Skoda Slavia test drive: A sedan that is strong, safe, comfortable and fast

The Skoda Slavia has been made for India. Though Skoda has been in India for more than two decades this is the first time it is producing a car for the market.

Starting from a cycle
Skoda founders Václav Laurin and Václav Klement started off with producing cycles, and before that they manufactured guns for some years. The first bicycle that they made in Czechoslovakia in 1890 was called Slavia.

Bigger than Octavia
The Skoda Slavia is bigger than the first version of the Octavia that was launched in India. Longer, wider and taller by inches, the Slavia is just a few millimeters shorter in dimensions to the Octavia that is available now. Due to this, it is actually a segment above the category that includes the likes of Maruti Ciaz and Hyundai Verna.

Made for India
Based on Volkswagen's MQB A0 platform, the Slavia is made for India. The platform is shared by Skoda Kushaq and Volkswagen Taigun too. At 2,650 mm, the Slavia has the longest wheelbase in the segment. The build quality is strong, and the doors make a reassuring thud while closing.

Good looks
No sedan that has been launched recently can claim to have such good looks. It truly stands out among the flurry of new launches. Well sculpted, its beautiful design language begins from the front grille, flows through the sides and reaches the rear.

Hexagonal front grille with chrome surrounds, crystalline LED headlamps and taillamps, the bold Skoda badge on the fender and the rear, and 16-inch alloy wheels are all eye-catching.

By using quality plastics on the dash and trims, Skoda is stating that it is aesthetically pleasing than soft-touch dashboards. Get in and you feel you are in a super luxury German car. The three-layered dashboard looks beautiful.

At 25.4 cm, the LED screen is quite large. The two-spoke steering wheel is classy and great to hold. The gold band running across the dash is not seen in any other car and stands out. AC vents and the way they close are upmarket. Both the front seats are ventilated and get height adjusters. The 8-inch instrument cluster is fully digital. Seats are comfortable and offer good legroom.

Fully connected
The Slavia gets several connected car features that can be used via the MySkoda Connect App, including live tracking, driving behaviour and trip analysis. The 380W music system with eight speakers, a sub-woofer and amplifier packs a punch. The amplifier has been placed under the seat of the co-driver and the sub-woofer has been tucked under the spare wheel in the boot.

A deity spot
Skoda has taken care of the smallest of the details so much so that the Slavia gets even a deity spot on the dashboard. Other nifty features include the storage space in the centre armrest, a reflective tape at the bottom of the doors, smart clip ticket holder, enough slots to keep mobile phones and USB charging ports. Rear AC vents, a 521-litre boot, and split-fold option for the rear seat are other key features.

Tech excellence
The Slavia is powered by technologically advanced 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre TSI engines. Both are petrol engines and Skoda's India chief Zac Hollis has categorically stated that they do not intend to bring any diesel engine to India, claiming that petrol is new technology.

His claims are true for the TSI engines. The state-of-the-art engine from Volkswagen has start-stop function that helps save on fuel and it can pick up speed quite quickly like a race car. Besides, it has cylinder-deactivation technology that improves fuel efficiency. The three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine churns out 110 bhp of peak power and the 1.5-litre engine produces 150 bhp of power. While the 1.0-litre unit is paired to a six-speed manual and torque-converter automatic transmission, the 1.5-litre engine comes with a six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG.

Driver's notes
Both the engines provide stunning performance. If you wonder whether a 1.0-litre engine can do justice to such a big car, you would become an admirer once you are behind the wheel. The lighter clutch and the short throw manual make driving a pleasure. The torque converter is meant to offer hassle-free driving. The engine comes to its own after 1800 rpm and pulls strongly all the way till over 6000 rpm. The car hits 100 kmph in just 11.1 seconds, beating even Honda City. The mileage is rated at 19.47 kmpl.

Energetic 1.5
If one needs a little more power to their driving, go for the 1.5-litre engine. It takes only 9.4 seconds to hit 100 kmph. For enthusiasts, the manual would be more appealing here too. However, the DSG holds its own with its lightning-quick shifts. The 150 bhp of power gives you a high level of engagement.

The Slavia is fully loaded in terms of safety features, which include six air bags, ABS, EBD, multi-collision brake, hill hold, traction control, tyre pressure monitoring, rain sensors and disc brake wiping.

No need to fear
Once upon a time Skoda horror stories were commonplace. The spare parts were costly, labour charges were high and even engine oil used to cost a bomb. After sales service were not up to the mark. Zac Hollis claims that all these issues have been sorted. The ex-showroom price of the car starts from Rs 10 lakh and the per kilometre maintenance cost is just 46 paise. Pay Rs 25,000 and you need not pay anything for service for four years, which means no headaches at all for four years. This can be extended at an additional cost. Service network has been improved 60%; Skoda now has 175 service centres in 117 cities. This means you can enjoy the German tech without any worries.

The ex-showroom price starts from Rs 10.69 lakh.

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