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Skoda Slavia – Goodbye Rivals


For many, sedans are a dying breed considering the dominant SUV that has managed to appeal and please many consumers over a considerable length of time.

With SUVs coming in many shapes and sizes now, there’s one for nearly every purpose that different buyers are aiming to fulfill. Yet, in the deep recesses of the heart, the appeal of a three-box sedan or coupe overshadows the pragmatic SUV.

Skoda realises its strengths as a manufacturer that has been well regarded as one which has consistently offered desirable sedans in India. Going on the offensive to increase its product portfolio, the new Slavia comes as a successor to the Rapid and what they’ve created is a very likable offering.

The Slavia’s well proportioned exterior along with typical Skoda styling cues gives it an outlook of a premium sedan that’s as large as the original Octavia and puts it at par with the competition as a replacement for the Rapid.

The Slavia instantly reminds you of the original Octavia in dimensions, visibly larger than the Rapid it replaces and is at par with its competition. The clean and bold lines of typical Skoda designs gives the Slavia a stretched look as the sloping roofline and sharp design cues follow from the front to the rear of the sedan. Angular headlamps and tail lamps, smart DRLs and details within the two sets of lamps give it that quintessential premium look, well complimented by the family grille that dominates the front end. Bold Skoda lettering on the boot is spread out in the centre with no visible exhaust tips, making for a clean rear design. Riding on 16-inch wheels, the Slavia doesn’t look under-tyred rather, it looks proportionate, sporty even despite the 179mm of ground clearance.

Black and beige interiors makes for a bright cabin that’s loaded with comfort and convenience features along with a minimal layout dominated with screens and minimising physical buttons.

Stepping inside the Slavia, the initial impression is that of a premium cabin with a mix of materials layered in black and beige. Circular air-con vents on the extreme right and left sides are a first in a Skoda while the piano black panel separating the top and bottom halves of the cabin looks good.

The dashboard layout has been kept tidy and minimal with the 10-inch touchscreen taking centre stage and paired with an 8-inch instrument cluster and a touch panel for the air-con controls, eliminating most physical buttons and making the interior feel properly contemporary. The two-spoke steering wheel feels solid to hold and is wrapped in a soft touch material. The infotainment system gets a few apps for music and is loaded with the latest connectivity features supporting both Android and Apple devices. Wireless phone charger is a miss out but a 12v socket and USB ports have been provided.

A few physical buttons are placed around the gear lever for easy access, like the door lock/unlock, auto start/stop on/off and two-stage seat cooling buttons.

The seats are a bit firm for shorter journeys but will offer more support for the longer ones with the front bucket seats getting a two-stage cooling option. The rear seats are supportive and spacious with ample legroom even for taller occupants, to stretch their legs and get better under-thigh support. Seating comfort aside, the bright ambience thanks to the black and beige upholstery with generous window areas and a sunroof makes for a lively look for the cabin and its occupants.

Quality levels for the most part is good, especially around the touch points and top half of the cabin with a few bits in the lower half lacking the solid fit and finish of Skoda cars we’ve seen thus far.

Although, spending a bit more time inside also reveals the use of lower quality materials in the lower half of the dashboard, seats, door pads. The roof liner has been a concern for the Kushaq’s customers and Skoda claims to have improved upon it but it still depresses in certain areas upon pushing it inwards. Fit and finish levels too aren’t at par with Skoda products we’ve been used to over the years, that have created expectations of solid build quality and high fit, finish levels. Nevertheless, these factors don’t take away from the positives of the Slavia’s cabin, one that’s full of modern features and the fact that there are no rattles and noises to speak of. Sound insulation could’ve been better too as a lot of engine and road noise filters into the cabin.

Safety has been paid particular attention to and the Slavia comes equipped with a plethora of features to bring it up-to-date with current consumer expectations and then some more features that Skoda has emphasised upon. Up to six airbags are on offer with ABS and ESP. The Slavia even boasts of Multi Collision Brake that is said to prevent potential follow-on collisions in case of an accident. This aside, there is an Electronic Differential System that improves traction while cornering and that brings us onto the highlight of the Slavia’s ride and handling package.

The Slavia’s dynamic abilities and overall ride and handling package is possibly the best in the segment right now, offering comfort on regular drives and commutes as well as rewarding enthusiastic driving with equal ease.

The Slavia is the second product on the MQB-AO-IN platform after the Kushaq but it is the former that brings out the real dynamic capability of this chassis. Skoda has gotten the overall balance of the chassis so spot on that it’s evident as soon as you take a corner fast. The Slavia turns in deftly, then goes on to hold its designated line as the front sticks on without protest and the rear comes around nicely to bring a smile of satisfaction to your face. No understeer, no oversteer and simply no drama, the Slavia’s chassis brings in predictability and assurance that really encourages the driver to push the car confidently into corners. Enthusiastic driving aside, the Slavia even displays poise and surefootedness over varied surfaces, with the damping being adept at soaking bad roads just as well as managing bigger undulations at high speeds. The extra ground clearance definitely comes in handy where it takes away worries of scraping the underbody or even damaging the front bumper lip if the suspension compresses too much. Riding tall, there is body roll while going around quick corners but never too apparent from behind the steering wheel and neither is there excessive suspension dive under hard braking.

With prices starting at Rs 10.69 lakh ex-showroom, Skoda has priced the Slavia aggressively and ensured that it covers all the bases with a choice of engine and gearboxes as well as being loaded with features in various trims.

Most of this light and nimble handling is also due to the 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder motor underneath the bonnet that is presumably light. Lest you get the impression that it may be a bit short on power and excitement like me, it was a joyous revelation to enjoy the response of the engine after the first press of the throttle. There’s no turbo-lag to speak of as the engine revs up quickly and feels effortless in acceleration even with passengers on board and tackling rolling roads. The engine response feels sprightly and coupled with the six-speed manual on test with us, it made for proper enthusiastic driving feels that tugged at the heart strings just right. Even on busier road conditions, the light clutch action and smooth shifts of the manual gearbox made driving the 1.0 TSI Slavia immensely enjoyable.


The 1.0-litre TSI engine in the Slavia is also offered with a six-speed torque converter automatic as it sees competition in the form of the Honda City, Hyundai Verna and the Maruti-Suzuki Ciaz and Skoda even has a 1.5-litre TSI engine as an option under the hood, covering all bases for anyone wanting more power and performance. We’ll be able to delve on that engine and its nuances on 3rd March when the embargo lifts and prices are announced. That however, is the primary difference as the rest of the car remains the same. The Slavia then, is a well rounded sedan that covers most aspects of owning one exceptionally well. Sprightly engine, smooth gearbox, enjoyable to drive, comfortable when you need it to be and spacious enough for the family. Sure there are some interior bits that can be improved upon but it is still loaded with a plethora of features while boasting top safety equipment.


Skoda Slavia 1.0 TSI Style

Engine – 1.0-litre, 3-cyl, turbo-petrol

Power – 115bhp @ 5,000rpm

Torque – 178Nm @ 1,750 rpm

Gearbox – 6-speed manual

0-100kmph – 10.7 seconds

Fuel efficiency – 19.47kmpl (claimed)

Boot space – 521-litres