Skoda specialises in sedans. From the first-generation Octavia, which established Skoda as a luxury car brand in India over two decades ago, to the best-in-class Superb and, of course, the popular Rapid. SUVs and hatchbacks have come and gone, but Skoda's backbone in India has remained the three-box sedan.
The Slavia, Skoda's new car, is important because the Slavia is part of a USD 1 billion (about Rs 7,500 crore) commitment to developing products more in tune with local tastes and budget. Like the Kushaq, the Slavia is built with almost 95% Indian parts.
The Slavia replaces the Rapid, but it also moves up a sedan rung. It is, in fact, larger than the first generation Octavia.
A distinctive Skoda grille enhances the front of the Slavia. This car's emotive features include a winged grille, sharply cut bumper, and two noticeable creases running down the bonnet to create a power dome effect.
The Slavia's sides, on the other hand, are unique but simple, with a chrome strip across the window line that curves into the rear quarter glass and two strong creases from the front doors to the rear lights. Similar to the Kushaq and other India 2.0 cars, these character lines give the body a nice tension.
Despite the huge rear overhang, the Slavia has great proportions from the side that enables the class's biggest boot. Luggage capacity is 521 liters and can expand to 1050 liters by flipping the rear seats 60/40.
The Slavia has beautiful tail lights and a well-sculpted boot lid, and the neatly spaced out Skoda lettering on the badging.
The car has got stylish ten-spoke wheels, but the 179mm ground clearance and higher ride height spoil the stance built on the VW Group's proven MQB-A0 platform. Skoda and VW will share this platform across India 2.0 models, including the Kushaq and Taigun SUVs and the upcoming VW Virtus.
The Slavia, like other Skodas, has a practical and large interior that seems well built. The interior, however, does not feel as luxurious as the exterior due to the finish of certain materials. The imitation leather seats are crinkly in some areas, like aftermarket seat covers.
The boot fabrics are uneven, and the woven roof liner looks cheap in a luxury midsize sedan. Some plastics are also iffy, but overall, everything works flawlessly. The knurled control wheels and signature two-spoke steering wheel reeks of quality.
The layered chunky dashboard is busy, and the bronze strip that runs across it and into the round air vents at the ends is garish, but it's what today's buyers want. As is the trend, the air conditioning blower control is a touch-controlled slider, but it is smartly located in an indent on the fascia, making it simple to locate without taking your eyes off the road.
The Style variant has a 10.1-inch screen, like the Kushaq. Unlike the Kushaq, Slavia's instrument cluster is fully digital and customizable. Toggling through the functions provides minor customization. A few displays have both a rev counter and a speedometer dial. The empty spaces around the screen could have displayed additional information.
The touchscreen has logical menus and clear graphics. The Slavia gets the same built-in applications as the Kushaq, including the BBC World Service news app live radio. Wireless charging is standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the charging pad's angle hides the phone's screen.
The MySkoda Connect app includes standard connected features, including geofencing, time-fencing, and car stats. No remote lock/unlock or engine start to pre-cool the cabin. Due to environmental concerns, starting the engine before entering is not allowed in the EU.
Ride and handling
No other midsize sedan rides as comfortably as the Slavia. The long trip suspension and outstanding body control flattened out the bumpy tarmac for a rock-steady ride. Although the Slavia's suspension is firm and authoritative at low speeds, it does not disrupt the cabin's calm.
The 1.0 variant's lighter engine is good at changing direction. Because the Slavia isn't a sharp tool, you won't be able to drive it fast, and the light steering won't encourage you to attack corners. Because of its incredible stability and eager 1.0 TSI engine, even an average driver can confidently hold astonishingly high speeds.
1.0 TSI Engine and performance
The Slavia, like the Kushaq will come 1.5 and 1.0 TSI engines. This compact 1.0 TSI three-cylinder 110 hp engine punches far above its weight and doesn't seem small. The 6-speed manual is faster than the torque converter automatic. This car's short-throw, smooth gearbox and light progressive clutch make it a better option for enthusiasts.
The 1.0-liter engine responds well to part throttle, but full speed causes turbo lag. It is not very pleasant to overtake fast, and the engine is warm. This engine is fully awake above 1,800 rpm and continues to spin vigorously till 6,600 rpm. The engine becomes audible at high revs but not unpleasant, and it is very smooth for a three-cylinder.
The 1.0 Slavia hits 100kph in 11.1 seconds and is faster in third and fourth gear than the Honda City! The well-judged gearing enhances the Slavia's wide powerband and torque, and you won't be wishing for more power except at low revs.
The 6-speed auto is also suitable for everyday use. It's not quite as quick as the manual, but 12.1 seconds from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour isn't bad. In stop-and-go traffic, the 6-speed auto thrives. When you press the throttle, the torque converter connects the transmission smartly, making it seem responsive when you accelerate from a stop. The first rapid reaction gives way to a touch of hesitation until the 1,800rpm mark, after which the engine starts up strongly.
Skoda Slavia is a better product than the Kushaq. It's a well-built car with plenty of safety features. It is spacious, has got well-equipped interior, and the 1.0 TSI engine is the package's biggest surprise, producing performance belying its size. Some buyers may miss the diesel option and the plusher cabin.
The Slavia has confidently priced at the top end of the midsize segment, competing with the market-leading Honda City. Skoda provides enticing four-year maintenance packages and Rs 0.46 per km best-in-class maintenance costs. Slavia is a worthy alternative to the City and Verna.