Skoda Kushaq Test Drive Review
We do a detailed road test review of the Skoda Kushaq.
Car Tested: Skoda Kushaq 1.5 TSI MT; Road Test No. 1319; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs 12.43-20.85 Lakhs
Stellar looks, feature-loaded cabin coupled with superb performance and dynamics make the Kushaq a great driver-friendly compact SUV
The first product to culminate out of Skoda-VW’s India 2.0 game plan is the new Kushaq. The Skoda Kushaq is a compact SUV that is set to rival the likes of the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Creta and it is based on the Made-for-India MQB-A0-IN platform. Skoda gave us a preview of the Kushaq a couple of months back and now we have finally driven this car.
MotorQuest – Since the Skoda Kushaq is a Made for India vehicle, the automaker wanted some Indian connection with the naming and thus they ended up going for Kushaq which is derived from the Sanskrit word “Kushak” which stands for Emperor or King.
Exteriors – The Skoda Kushaq isn’t a very big SUV and you will notice that the very first time you see it. The dimensions are compact and the Kushaq is also much shorter than its rivals. However, Skoda has kept the wheelbase the longest in the segment and it also a wee bit longer than the Karoq’s. The Skoda Kushaq borrows styling cues from its bigger siblings like the Karoq and Kodiaq and thus it has this nice family look to it.
Despite being the most compact car in its segment, the Kushaq sports the longest wheelbase
The Kushaq looks very proportionate and all the body panels sit flush with consistent panel gaps. Like all other VW Group cars, the Kushaq also bears a minimalistic approach and this works rather nicely. The vehicle gets LED projector headlamps but the indicators and fog lamps are halogens. The same thing goes for the taillights too wherein just the main lights are LEDs while the others are halogens. The Skoda Kushaq gets 17-inch wheels with a neat looking design.
Interiors – The cabin of this compact SUV carries a dual-tone grey colour theme. The design isn’t very flashy or loud, it looks rather basic and functional, yet the ergonomics are completely spot on. There’s a mix of dark grey and light grey everywhere including the upholstery and only the stitching has been done up in orange. Now some people might not like the plain-jane colour theme because somehow people have got accustomed to flashy stuff.
The interior also has a minimalistic approach and all the controls are very neatly laid out
Skoda has equipped the Kushaq with a ton of features, some of which aren’t even available on the recently-launched Octavia! This compact SUV gets a sunroof (not a panoramic unit), front ventilated seats, wireless charging, ambient lighting, auto headlamps, auto wipers, front & rear parking sensors, auto-dimming IRVM and keyless go with push-button start. All the doors come with pretty big bottle holders and you can easily store a couple of 1-litre bottles and some of your other belongings.
The front seats offer very good support and are quite comfortable on long drives. Outward visibility is nice and since the Kushaq isn’t very big, it is fairly easy to drive this car around. We drove the manual variant and it did come with a dead pedal but I found the space between the dead pedal and the clutch to be slightly cramped for my size 11 shoe. The steering can be adjusted for rake and reach so finding the perfect driving position is easy.
Skoda’s clever packaging has resulted in plenty of knee room for rear passengers, and the difference is noticeable
The rear seat is also very supportive and Skoda has managed to liberate a lot of knee room so even with the front seats set to a tall person’s seating position, you get more than enough knee room at the back. Headroom is fine too but a panoramic sunroof would have made the cabin feel airier. The cabin isn’t very wide and hence three people at the rear is a tight fit. However, the vehicle does come with three adjustable headrests at the rear. What I did notice is that the space where you rest your feet is a bit cramped and there’s not much room to move your feet down there. The boot is nicely shaped and it gets a capacity of 385-litres which can be expanded to 1405-litres with the rear seats folded down. The rear seat gets a 60:40 layout.
Performance – The Skoda Kushaq is going to be offered with two petrol engine options. The first engine is a 1.0-litre, 3-cyl, TSI unit churning out 115 PS and 178 Nm. We have seen this engine on the Skoda Rapid previously but the automaker claims to have made some tweaks to the software and some mechanicals like the oil pump. This engine gets either a 6-speed MT or a 6-speed torque convertor.
Skoda is offering the Kushaq with two turbocharged petrol options, one shared with the Rapid while the other is shared with the Karoq
However, the car which we drove had the bigger 1.5 TSI engine under the hood. We have experienced this engine also before in the Skoda Karoq and VW T-Roc and both the engines are part of the EA211 family, with the latter being an Evo unit which means it comes with cylinder deactivation technology too, which basically shuts down two cylinders when the car is at low speeds or when you’re driving around at low RPMs with light throttle inputs. This is being done in the interest of fuel efficiency.
The 1.5 TSI engine offers mind-blowing performance and the way it delivers all that power is just something else. Peak torque starts coming in early from as low as 1600 RPM which means turbo lag is minimal and then there’s a strong pull. The Kushaq 1.5 accelerates away pretty fast and the engine also likes being revved. The redline starts at 6000 RPM which isn’t very high but the engine also has a very sweet note to it.
This powerplant gets either a 6-speed MT or a 7-speed DSG and we drove only the former. The gearshifts are precise with a mild hint of notchiness and the clutch travel is a tad long. The clutch release action is also a bit snappy and it feels similar to what we’ve experienced with some other VW Group diesel manual cars. Overall, the 1.5 TSI is truly a driver’s delight and you’ll have a blast driving this.
Driving Dynamics – Skoda seems to have found a good balance between the ride and handling of the Kushaq because it drives so well that it actually mimics bigger European cars. It has this nice poise to it and it always remains very planted. The suspension tackles potholes with aplomb and comfort levels in the cabin are nice. At high speeds, we didn’t find much vertical movement even at the rear.
The Kushaq sports excellent ride quality along with an exceptional ride and handling balance
The Kushaq gets the same 2-spoke steering as the Octavia and it feels light to use when you’re driving the car in the city. It also has a decent heft to it at higher speeds and while it is precise, some more feedback would have been welcome. The Kushaq handles rather well and it is a joy to push this car around. It is no sedan and has some body roll too which is under control. None of the variants come with rear disc brakes but the stopping power felt adequate to us.
Safety & After Sales Service – Skoda has come a long way in India. There was a time when a lot of customers used to have complaints with regards to service but things have surely improved in the last few years with service experiences getting better. The company has been responding to issues effectively too but this is the Indian market where competition is tough and a lot of automakers are offering exemplary service which Skoda is trying to do as well. However, it does make sense opting for the highest possible extended warranty that you can get because that ensures peace of mind. The vehicle gets safety features like six airbags (Style variant), ABS with EBD, ESC (on every variant), TPMS, Hill Hold Control, ISOFIX and multi-collision brake.
Verdict – The Skoda Kushaq is a lovely car. It looks stellar, has lots of features to boot and comes with tasty engine options. The 1.5 will be offered only on the top trim while the 1.0 will be available on all variants. The car isn’t very big and a diesel engine is lacking but otherwise, it’s a great little package and pricing is key because this car could turn around Skoda’s story in India. Bookings open on 28th June and deliveries for the 1.0 TSI variants will begin shortly thereafter while 1.5 TSI deliveries are slated to begin in August.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Renault Duster, Nissan Kicks
Further Reading –
Skoda Kushaq Video Review