Skoda Kushaq First Look

Modified On Apr 14, 2021 04:28 PM By Tushar for Skoda Kushaq

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The Kushaq may be a compact SUV but it’s a very big deal for Skoda. So has it ticked the right boxes to make you look away from the “can’t go wrong” choices?

Exactly why is the Kushaq such a big project for Skoda? Well, think of every car the brand has sold in its 20 year-long India journey. The Fabia, Rapid, Octavia (and Laura), Superb, Yeti, Karoq and Kodiaq are all cars that are/were part of its international range and have been either localised or locally assembled.

Now, for the first time ever, it has got a car designed for India and made in India, based on the MQB A0IN platform. The Skoda Kushaq enters the popular, yet, heavily monopolistic compact SUV segment where the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos have tag teamed their way into dominance.

Here’s a look at what the Kushaq does to try and convince you away from the default picks of the segment; but first, an explanation.

What is MQB A0 IN?

It is the Indianised version of the Volkswagen Group’s (which owns Skoda) global compact car platform. Not only does this mean heavy local content for the Kushaq (95 percent of the car uses components sourced from Indian vendors), but also a change in internal benchmarking and design.

For instance, globally, Skoda’s cabin plastics are tested for temperatures ranging from -50 degree Celsius to 70 degree Celsius. While the higher temperature tolerance does make sense here, Skoda India decided against using European cold weather standards so more India-specific plastic trim could be chosen. The Kushaq also doesn’t have an obtrusive floor hump at the rear; something you will see in European cars that generally require the space to accommodate all-wheel-drive hardware underneath.

Exterior

Indianised as the platform may be, the Kushaq looks truly European. In typical Skoda fashion, the design is subdued, clean, and understated. Brands such as Skoda/VW have been opting for this approach as it helps the styling age well. For example, the Rapid has been on sale for a decade but with minor tweaks over the years it doesn’t look dated even now.

FYI: Ground clearance: 188mm (unladen)

You can also distinguish the Kushaq as a Skoda from the design language, especially because of the beefy front butterfly grille, how the exterior lights (including the crystal reflect pattern) have been shaped, and even the choice of character lines across the body. The finishing on the outside is top-notch as you’d expect and it feels well-built too.

FYI: The Kushaq is offered in three variants: Active, Ambition and Style. Skoda may introduce a variant above Style (possibly the Monte Carlo) with some exclusive features that haven’t been revealed yet.

What you won’t get with the Kushaq is the bragging rights of size. Its dimensions make it one of the smaller cars in the segment. While the difference isn’t massive versus a Creta or Seltos, it is noticeable. It does have a large wheelbase, in order to utilise its footprint for a better cabin experience (more on that later).

Dimensions

Skoda Kushaq

Hyundai Creta

Kia Seltos

Length

4,225mm

4,300mm

4,315mm

Width

1,760mm

1,790mm

1,800mm

Height

1,612mm

1,635mm

1,645mm

Wheelbase

2,651mm

2,610mm

2,610mm

The Kushaq is fully loaded with features including LED projector headlights, LED tail lamps, halogen front fog lamps, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a sunroof. The Creta remains the Kushaq’s only size rival that offers a panoramic sunroof.

FYI: The base variant rides on 16-inch steel wheels, while the mid-range model gets 16-inch alloy wheels.

Colour options include Candy White, Brilliant Silver, Carbon Steel, Honey Orange, and Tornado Red. Skoda is also considering a blue paint shade for the Kushaq, though it hasn’t been confirmed yet. We’re also curious to see if Rallye Green is offered as an option, perhaps reserved for a Kushaq RS if that ever happens.

Interior

In typical Skoda fashion, the quality levels are robust. No soft-touch plastics as such, but the trim has a smooth finish. It’s a mix of grey and black on the inside which looks sweet, though some may have expected a beige interior option as well.

While the centre console does have some similarities with the Skoda Kamiq and Skoda Scala, the dashboard design is very unique to the Kushaq. Both the doors and the dashboard use a blend of glassy finish black plastic, some textured carbon-fiber look-alike trim, and a light garnish of chrome. The two-spoke steering looks upmarket and even the steering-mounted rollers feel nice to use.

FYI: Boot space: 385-1,405L

Most of the cabin feels premium as a Skoda should. There are exceptions like the cabin light switch panels that feel a bit cheap but if you moved from a Skoda Rapid to this, you would feel the upgrade. So what’s the catch then?

Well, it isn’t cabin space if that’s what you were thinking. Even taller folks (6ft tall or slightly taller) will have enough knee, head and foot room to sit comfortably. What eats into the sense of space is the cabin width. Sure, you can squeeze in a 5th occupant, especially if the rear users are slim, but it’s most comfortable when used for four, maybe with a kid in between. The Creta/Seltos aren’t benchmarks for 5-seaters either but they feel more accommodating than the Kushaq.

Features

Let’s split this into three parts: staple, safety, and interesting.

Staple

Notable Features

Auto headlamps and wipers

Cruise control

Ambient lighting

Cooled glovebox

Wireless phone charger

4 x type C USB chargers

Smart key with access sensors on both front doors and push-button start

Tilt and reach adjustable steering

All round adjustable headrests, including the rear middle passenger 

Rear armrest with cupholders

Touch panel auto AC

Rear AC vents

Now, a brief dive into some of the hero features:

  • The top-end variants get ventilated front seats. A 7-inch touchscreen comes as standard, while higher models get a 10-inch touchscreen. Details of the smaller screen haven’t been completely disclosed but the bigger screen will support wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The screen itself is Android-based and comes with a suite of onboard apps (Audiobooks, Booking.com, Gaana and Sygic navigation) in addition to apps downloadable via the Skoda app store using a Wi-Fi hotspot.

  • The Kushaq gets a 6-speaker Skoda music system. No branded sound system here but we’d like to experience it in depth before commenting on whether this is a disadvantage or not.

  • There is connected car tech on offer which is functionality focused. Highlights include live car tracking, PUC/insurance/service reminders, geo-fencing, speed alert, car health data, and driving statistics.

There are some misses such as a fully digital instrument cluster, surround view camera, powered driver’s seat, and drive/traction modes. We may get to see the digital cluster introduced closer to the Kushaq’s launch, possibly as a halo feature reserved for an undisclosed variant altogether (the rumoured Kushaq Monte Carlo).

While the Kushaq does a lot in the features department, the Creta and Seltos manage to retain their edge as the cars with the heaviest tech package for the price, if only by a few features.

Safety

Aside from dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX and rear parking sensors, the Kushaq also gets standard ESC, optional front parking sensors, the option of six airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, and multi-collision brake.

Interesting

  • A grab handle is attached inside the tailgate which will help shorter users shut the boot with more ease (you may remember this from the Octavia).

  • The boot has two fixed baggage hooks (3kg load capacity) which will be useful to hold shopping bags in place.

  • Front door pockets have rubber straps to hold any items placed in there steadily.

  • Central cup holders come with rubber grips at the bottom to hold a bottle in place if you have to open it.

  • It also gets phone pockets outside the rear seatback pockets, though, plus-sized phones will be a squeeze in them.

Engines and Transmissions

Unfortunately, the Kushaq will not be offered with a diesel engine. Instead, it comes with two turbocharged petrol engines, detailed below.

Technical Specifications

1.0L TSI

1.5L TSI

Power

115PS @ 5000-5500rpm

150PS @ 5000-6000rpm

Torque

175Nm @ 1750-4500rpm

250Nm @ 1600-3500rpm

Transmission

6-speed manual / 6-speed automatic

6-speed manual / 7-speed DSG automatic

The 1.0-litre TSI is essentially the same unit we’ve seen in the Rapid/Vento/Polo TSI but it has been optimised to produce slightly more power. The upgrade from this is the same 1.5-litre TSI seen in the Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen T-Roc. This engine also features cylinder-deactivation which, under low load driving, shuts off 2/4 cylinders to reduce fuel consumption. Interestingly, the engine’s torque rating of 250Nm matches what VW/Skoda’s 1.5-litre diesel engine produced while delivering more power!

Parting Thoughts

The Kushaq is a well-loaded, well-built, and sharply styled urban SUV. It offers the premium experience you expect in a Skoda car and going by the brand’s track record, should be as enjoyable to drive as well. On-road prices could start around Rs 12 lakh and go up to around Rs 18-Rs 20 lakh. Skoda is expected to launch the Kushaq in June 2021 and commence deliveries in July 2021.

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abhishek savalia
Mar 21, 2021 12:24:13 AM

Very dull drl... look at seltos's !.. could have done better... just had to keep the headlight in jtd concept version...

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    siddharth doshi
    Mar 20, 2021 12:44:04 AM

    I love their cars... Pros: Cars are flawless, reliable, design, luxurious feel and touch and most important built quality Cons: Expensive to maintain, Dealers start cheating on you once warranty is go

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