2022 Skoda Slavia 1.0-litre first drive review
With the Kushaq, Skoda may have found the sound footing in the Indian market it had been looking for for a while. But the Czech brand's image in India has largely been built on the back of its sedans, starting with the Octavia over 20 years ago, and then complemented by the Superb and Rapid at either end. So with the Rapid being around as long as it has been, a contemporary Skoda sedan that is easily accessible has been a glaring blank space in the lineup. This is the gap the Skoda Slavia plugs, and to go a step further, will revitalize the sedan market, as Skoda claims.
2022 Skoda Slavia 1.0 litre driving impressions
The Skoda Slavia is mechanically identical to the Kushaq, right down to the 2,651mm wheelbase, and is consequently based on the heavily indigenised MQB-A0-IN architecture. Invariably, it shares the same engines as the SUV. The top-spec 1.5-litre and the 1.0-litre with 115PS and 175 Nm. This base engine goes into 85 per cent of all Kushaqs sold and will see a similar split in the new sedan.
This three-cylinder motor has always been one of the more competent ones of its kind around, and that continues here as well. So while there is some hesitation below 2,000 rpm, the motor quickly overcomes this and sets into a wide and usable torque band that makes progress at slow speeds steady and hassle-free, a handy attribute given that the Slavia will see a lot of daily commuting. And for those choosing the Slavia to add a touch of excitement to their driving, the 1.0-litre delivers here too with a noticeable step-up in performance post 3,000 rpm. This means that holding triple-digit speeds or picking through traffic is never a chore.
But all of this was also true for the Kushaq. So at its second crack at this formula, Skoda India has done well to iron out the flaws in this drivetrain from the SUV. So the aggressive creep function from the Rapid TSI and the Kushaq has been softened which makes crawling through traffic just that much uncomplicated while the harsh vibrations through the pedals and steering wheel have been reduced significantly. Having said that, some of the Slavia's rivals are more refined still although the deficit is now no longer a deal-breaker. As a bonus, the addition of start-stop should also amp up efficiency.
The Slavia 1.0-litre can be paired with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed torque converter, both of which are well-attuned to the job at hand. Like the motor, the auto has also been reworked to work better over the Kushaq. The unit is in sync with the motor's powerband, with well-timed shifts, even if they may not match the quickness or crispness of the DCT. In regular operation, the unit will always keep a healthy dose of grunt on tap and will also hold gears well past 4,000 rpm under more spirited driving, enough to not miss the absent drive modes. In any case, the S mode and the paddle shifters add a further level of alertness that works well in the higher reaches of the rev band.
And for those choosing the manual, there's not much to lose here either. The clutch action is progressive but substantial with a well-defined bite point, even with the slightly long clutch travel, which means you never really end up riding the clutch during shifts. In any case, the wide powerband means that shifts are few and far between. And when you do need to change gears, the clean shift action and well-defined gates dial out much of the effort. In fact, the manual 1.0-litre may be one of the more engaging sedans you can buy in this segment.
The Skoda Slavia continues in the long tradition of the brand's sedans that offer up the right mix of comfort and engagement on the move. The suspension set-up tackles our usual cracks and bumps well with very little of it being based into the cabin at any speed. But with the sedan bodystyle bringing with it slightly less suspension travel, impacts from the worst potholes and largest speed breakers are sometimes noisy and can make their way into the cabin to a small extent. But with 179mm of unladen ground clearance, the Slavia will rarely ever bottom out. And despite the fairly skinny 195-section tyres, the Slavia feels steady and confident at highway speeds with very little loose vertical or sideways movements.
Much like the Rapid before it, the pliant suspension in the Slavia has brought with it just the right amount of lean around bends. The stiff structure, combined with the lower height means that the Slavia feels confident at changing directions and remains poised at higher speeds. We only wish there was a bit more heft added to the steering as speeds rise, the standard setup is great for a stress-free urban commute but can be a touch vague when the Savia is driven with enthusiasm.
2022 Skoda Slavia 1.0 litre interiors
The Skoda Slavia takes the Czech brand's latest interior design themes and reinterprets them, largely successfully, into a more affordable form. So you get the intricate, layered dash design that has been seen on newer Skoda cars, although with the Slavia, Skoda has used varying materials, textures and colours even more thoughtfully.
So even though soft surfaces are limited to the armrests and steering wheel, the grained dash-top with the dotted pattern to the recesses around the touchscreen help amp up the sense of class. The angular gloss black panel with the bronzed plane intersecting it also makes for a distinct style. A similar level of detailing is also seen in the round side vents. This is despite most of the components being lifted straight from the Kushaq like the lower dash surfaces, the centre console and the still-fiddly capacitive climate controls. But these bits too have been improved in terms of material quality and finish, even though fit remains as impeccable as ever. The door cards feel more substantial while most surfaces have a smoother edge to them even as the roof-lining feels much nicer. Having said that, we would have liked a few more improvements, say to the rough functioning of the windows or the flimsy sun visors.
Addressing one of the Rapid's biggest flaws, the Slavia is now one of the most spacious cars in its class as its dimensions suggest. Combined with the intelligent space management of the MQB architecture, the footwells in the front are now much larger and the seats are supportive to most body types. There's even a good view out even though you sit quite well ensconced in the cabin in ventilated, supportive seats. The two-spoke Skoda wheel is great to hold and the 8-inch digital instrument cluster with its many displays is a vast upgrade over the analogue gauges in the Kushaq. The 10.1-inch touchscreen also falls in easy reach and now adds more apps while there's a wider suite of connected-car tech.
But those travelling in the rear seat, a key consideration in this segment, are by far the best served. The seats are densely cushioned and well contoured, with good under-thigh support, although the defining feature is the masses of legroom and the large windows which make for an airy space despite only a single pane sunroof. The sloping roofline eats into headroom and we would have liked sunblinds here but the Slavia still should offer one of the more compelling rear-seat experiences in its price range.
2022 Skoda Slavia 1.0 litre styling
This may not be immediately apparent in pictures but the Slavia is a large car. The sedan is significantly larger than the Rapid with a 128mm increase in length, 53m increase in width and 21mm increase in height. In fact, the Slavia is even bigger than the first-gen Octavia. So it carries with it a sense of class that should make it appealing to those looking for the full sedan experience. The newest Skoda design themes have been put to use here, heavily influenced by the international-market Fabia. So you have a large and protruding Skoda grille and the fairly simply shaped headlamps with their crystalline detailing. The air dam is also well executed with its interplay of black mesh and body-colour flacks and cuts.
Also like other, larger Skodas, there is a great use of well-defined lines and discrete panels to add to the sense of sophistication. This is most apparent in the strong bonnet creases and the sharp lines that run along the shoulder. The three-box shape is proportionate and although the Slavia isn't a hatch as is Skoda tradition, the sloping roofline does convey that sense to an extent. The 16-inch wheels with their meaty tyres fill up the wheel-wells reasonably well but the alloy wheel design feels a touch too familiar now, carried over from the last Octavia. The rear is again unmistakably a Skoda, with the strong edge to the boot lid, hiding a massive 520-litre capacity, and done up with sharply cut L-motifs to the taillamps and their cut-glass detailing. Here, the halogen bulbs are also quite well disguised.
2022 Skoda Slavia 1.0 litre safety
The Skoda Slavia carries the same safety package as the Kushaq, which means base trims get two airbags, tyre-pressure monitoring and stability control as standard. Top versions get six airbags and a host of safety tech like an electronic differential lock, brake disc wiping ad so on. There's only a single rear camera which is again of not the greatest resolution.
2022 Skoda Slavia 1.0 litre verdict
Skoda says it wants to revitalize the sedan segment in India, and on first acquaintance, the Slavia seems up to the job. Despite some of the rough edges not quite brushed away and some equipment missing in comparison to SUV competitors, the Slavia does a fine job of condensing the Skoda sedan experience into a more accessible package. It looks classy, has a comfortable and rich-looking interior, a peppy drivetrain and the sprinkling of driving pleasure that makes a Skoda a Skoda.
2022 Skoda Slavia 1.0 litre MT real-world performance
0 to 100 kmph - 10.6s
30 to 50 kmph(3rd) - 3.3s
50 to 70 kmph(4th) - 4.1s
60 to 80 kmph (5th) - 5.6s
100 to 0 kmph - 42.7m, 3.0s
2022 Skoda Slavia 1.0 litre AT real-world performance
0 to 100 kmph - 12.2s
30 to 50 kmph - 2.1s
50 to 70 kmph - 2.5s
60 to 80 kmph - 3.1s
Images by Anis Shaikh
Starts Rs 10.69 Lakhs