Interview: Zac Hollis on the pricing of Skoda Kushaq, more variants and its safety and reliability
Skoda India has finally launched the Kushaq in the Indian market and it has created quite a bit of stir since its launch. Although it lacks a diesel propulsor, its efficient and frugal TSI range of engines mated to both manual and automatic gearbox options take the charge. While the pricing of the Kushaq stands where we expected it to be, the entry price is a bit higher. We ask Zac Hollis, Director, Sales and Marketing, Skoda India about the price and variant distribution of the Kushaq.
Rohit Paradkar - The pricing is where we expected it to be but the entry point is marginally higher. The market was expecting sub-10 lakh pricing for the base variant but the actual pricing is half a lakh more. There are still quite a few states that charge more road tax for vehicles costing more than 10 lakh ex-showroom versus under 10 lakh pricing. So could you please throw some light on the pricing strategy of Skoda Kushaq?
Zac Hollis - You are right! We are aware that having a sub-10 lakh car brings a small tax advantage to the customers. However, if you look at it, we haven't offered a naked car. Straight off the bat, it comes with an infotainment system, standard safety with advanced features like the electric differential lock, brake disc wiping and many more. Skoda has never offered a naked car in the market and with the features on offer, it is not possible to price it under 10 lakh ex-showroom. Furthermore, if you price a car under 10 lakh, you end up restricting the production and that leads to customer dissatisfaction.
Rohit Paradkar - Just to remind our viewers, we are recording this interview when the Skoda Kushaq is launched and we are yet to have the variant-wise break up of the Kushaq. The customers have a query regarding the non-availability of six airbags in the automatic variants of the Kushaq. So could you please shed some light on that and will six airbags be offered moving further or is there any roadblock causing it to not be available?
Zac Hollis - From launch, the automatic variants of the Skoda Kushaq will only be available with 2 airbags. However, we have a myriad of safety features on the Style variant. The Kushaq offers ESC across the range, brake disc wiping, making for a safer ride in monsoons and a lot more safety equipment across the range. We assure our customers that the Kushaq offers the safety they expect from a traditional Skoda and it will lead the industry in terms of safety.
Rohit Paradkar - We spoke about the Skoda Octavia a few days back and I am going to repeat the question asked earlier, the Octavia has come at a time when crossovers are the flavour of the season. So what's your strategy to lure the customers to walk in the Skoda showrooms and how will the sales team convince them to stick to Skoda and buy the Kushaq over its rivals?
Zac Hollis - The most important factor we are looking for is the test drive experience. You have driven the Kushaq and you must have found the TSI engines to be absolutely outstanding and that's most important for the Kushaq, the drive experience. The handling of the car is amazing and the TSI engines are the best in the industry. The 1.0-litre TSI is heavily localised and the 1.5-litre TSI offers the active cylinder deactivation system to save fuel. We are having the TSI engines from the base variant whereas rivals are still offering MPI engines with the baseline variants.
Rohit Paradkar - Our reviews are only to give you a direction, but we strongly recommend you test drive the car, especially the Kushaq. We have loved the 1.0-litre TSI with the Rapid and the 1.5-litre TSI with the Skoda Karoq. Given your market expertise and customer feedback, what do you foresee the split to be like in terms of both the engines and variants? We are thankful that you haven't confused the market with too many variants, unlike other brands bombarding the customers with a slew of engine, gearbox and variant options.
Zac Hollis - Keeping the variant line up small helps in production planning and management. We expect a vast majority of sales from the 1.0-litre TSI. Everyone after the drives loved and appreciated the 1.0-litre TSI. The 1.5-litre TSI is a powerful engine, 150 PS and 250 Nm in a small package like the Kushaq is incredible. If I go a few years back when I had a Golf GTi, it had a lot less power but still was pitched as a sports car. The 1.5-litre TSI is for enthusiasts and hence, it's only available with the Style variant. I strongly believe that the 1.0-litre TSI will bring the majority of sales.
Rohit Paradkar - Finally, there has been a lot of buzz about the possibility of a Monte Carlo variant with the Kushaq. We've seen a TFT display with the Kushaq' sibling that's going to launch soon. When do we expect the TFT display and more kit with the Kushaq and will it be a part of Monte Carlo, if there is any?
Zac Hollis - It's normal to launch a special variant in the lifecycle of a product and we will surely do that. The Monte Carlo would be the perfect pick as it's well established in India. It's an option we would consider in the future, however, I can't give you any exact timing. I promise you that we would bring exciting additions to the range, with the Monte Carlo being one possibility.
Rohit Paradkar - Just to give reassurance to customers and viewers, one common question that never leaves us is the DQ200. It has proven its reliability with time and extensive changes have been made. To reinforce that, you also have some warranty packages behind the curtains. So could you please shed some light on that?
Zac Hollis - The engine and gearbox have seen a lot of software improvements and have been tuned for Indian conditions. I have absolutely no concerns about the reliability of the DQ200 and the team has told me that it's been solved. The Kushaq comes with 4 years warranty and 2 years / 50,000 km warranty extension. The warranty includes the whole powertrain, including the DSG unit.
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