India is no longer a small car market, and the country is in love with SUVs. Last year SUVs commanded more volumes than the cumulative volumes of hatchbacks and sedans. The sedan segment is not something that has completely gone out. Sedans still constitute 12-15% of the market. To dominate that space, many companies compete. Now, Skoda has developed an all-new mid-size sedan Slavia, which will go against the likes of the Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and the Volkswagen Vento. Earlier, Skoda has tasted the Indian sedan market with Octavia, Superb and Rapid and now Slavia joins the list.
Will Slavia make a mark in the SUV dominated market? Let’s figure it out. First of all, I would like to talk about the design, since I could see a lot of sharp creases on the body, giving it a chiselled look. The nose sport a large grill with chrome surrounds and the headlamps extend outwards from the top corners. The led DRLs have the check crystalline effect and there’s a large air dam in the chin.
The customers started loving SUVs mainly because of the ground clearance. Sensing that Skoda has worked on it and it has a segment-leading ground clearance of 179mm. The side profile also sports sharp creases, and it has a swooping coupe roofline. While it does have a smart set of alloys, they are 16 inch and the wheel to body gap is quite large.
ஒட்டுமொத்த விகடனுக்கும் ஒரே ஷார்ட்கட்!
At the rear, the boot styling is on-point with the brand and the snazzy crystalline effect continues to the tail lights as well. Now Skoda wants to stake claim to being the most spacious sedan in the segment and if you compare it with Honda City and Maruti Ciaz, Slavia is the widest in the segment and it has even outperformed Ciaz in the wheelbase, which is at 2651mm. But just by a one-millimetre margin in length and height, it sits in between the Ciaz and the City. Slavia scores well in boot space too, it has got 521 litres, which is the class-leading number.
Inside the cabin, it’s pretty familiar. Many things look like the Kushaq. Salvia gets the dual-tone dashboard, 10-inch touchscreen, which sits in the recess, but the recess does have a different texturing. You get the two spokes steering wheel as well. There is a nice metallic strip that splits the two-tone dash right across and the round air-con vents as well. You get digital dials on the top variant, and it does have three themes as well.
When it comes to features, Slavia comes with a sunroof, wireless charging, which is a vertical slot and the phone leans against it. You also have ventilated seat. The interior is quite comfortable and there are lots of practical storage spaces, too. There are cup holders up front and all of these have anti-slip.
In terms of the safety features, Slavia impresses with standard ESC, low tire pressure warning, Isofix and even three-point seat belts at the back. Top-spec versions of the Slavia get six airbags. It also comes with an electronic differential system, which uses brakes to prevent wheel spin at the inner wheels in a corner and the multi-collision brake system activates in the event of an accident to automatically bring the car to a safe stop. There are no rear disc brakes, however, it does have front disc brake wiping.
Overall, the Slavia’s interior is good looking and its much better finished than what we saw on the Kushaq with things like the roofline and now being knitted. It is still not the quality of what we have come to expect from European brands.
Getting in and out of the cabin is pretty easy and it has a comfortable driving position. The steering has tilt and telescope, there’s a seat height adjuster and with the flat dash and large glass area, the visibility is also very good. Slavia comes with a 1.5L and a one-litre engine option mated to manual and automatic transmissions. These are essentially the same engine and gearbox combinations as in the Kushaq and even have the same power figures.
The one-litre TSI produces 115 HP and 178 Nm of torque. Now this one-litre engine is very familiar and it was impressive. In fact, it feels more energetic in the Slavia. It does feel pleasantly quick on the road. When you’re ambling around at city speeds, crawling along, you can be a lazy driver. It will pick up from lower RPMs, even in a higher gear. But progress was slow till it reaches 1800 RPM, later on, the power really kicks in.
Slavia’s gearbox is nice and positive and the clutches are light and easy. So driving in the city will also be a breeze. City or highway the one-litre does the job and it does it well, it never feels like a small engine and whether it’s performance or handling the Slavia impresses.
The suspension is softly sprung, so there is a bit of roll, but there’s lots of grip on offer and the steering actually gives you a good amount of confidence as well. So even when you drive enthusiastically, the Slavia stays better through the road, quite impressively. When the steering gives you confidence at higher speeds on the flip side, it’s light enough of parking in city driving too. The fact is that the more you drive the Slavia, the more you’ll begin to enjoy the combination of performance and handling. In fact, the right quality of the Slavia is one of its strengths. And while the experience behind the wheel is so enjoyable, it can keep you in there for a while.
The rear seats are comfortable with good thigh support and spacious too. It is more than enough legroom for tall people here as well. Now, though, the roof is scooped out and the seat is set low, taller people may find their head pretty close to the roofline. The window line is high, but there’s enough glass area, so it still feels open and airy. The floorboard is flat so the third passenger will be comfortable. There’s enough legroom for the third passenger as the cabin is wide. So three abreast will be pretty easy in this back seat.
So this backseat is a really nice place to be. There are air-con vents, two USB-C ports, handy pockets, one smaller one for your phone and a larger one to fit in other larger things. You do have the armrest and cup holders as well. The backseat is spacious. No doubt, but it’s also very comfortable because of the ride quality.
We also took a spin in the one-litre automatic, which make city driving quite easy. And it does, it moves up the gears very rapidly so we can expect this to be fuel-efficient. And it also makes the car more refined because you never really hear the engine rev hard like you’re doing in the manual. It also cruises comfortably. If you wanted a little bit more of a spirited drive, you can put it into sport mode where the shifts come faster and it holds the gear right up to the red line. If you want a quick downshift, you also have the paddle shifters.
Comparing the manual transmission the automatic does well, especially below 1800 RPM, where there was a lack of power in manual, so it does make the drive experience effortless. The one-litre TSI does well in combinations with both gearboxes and for those that want that little more punch, the manual does the job well. But the automatic also does a great job and ensures that the drive experience is more effortless. I am impressed with this engine, especially in Slavia and there are lots to be impressed about with this since its spacious loaded with features for convenience, entertainment, and safety.
The right quality is super and the performance is enjoyable. So while SUVs may be the flavour with their great ground clearance and massive boot, I think the Slavia has what it takes to compete and compete strongly. The price of Skoda Slavia 1.0-litre TSI variants ranges from Rs 10.69 - 15.39 lakh (ex-showroom, India). Slavia has a higher starting price than the Verna, Ciaz and Vento, although it is Rs 50,000 cheaper than the Honda City. At the top-end, the Slavia is again the most expensive of the lot, but the premium can be justified as the Slavia gets turbocharging and torque converter automatic gearbox compared to naturally aspirated rivals with CVT automatics.