Skoda Slavia: First Drive Review

Published On Feb 28, 2022 By Nabeel for Skoda Slavia

The sedan to end your hunt for SUVs?

skoda slavia review

If you have been looking for a sedan in this age, you are part of a smaller and niche audience. However, with all the focus on SUVs, sedans have been left unattended. The Ciaz still hasn't received a generation update, the Verna is less spacious than the i20 and the City; though tempting, It likes to scrape the front lip on speed breakers. There has been no India-focused sedan for a long time that has the potential to be an allrounder. 

The Skoda Slavia has, on paper, all the making of an ideal sedan for our conditions. Powerful engine options, automatic transmissions, high ground clearance and loaded with features and practicality. Can it end your search for a sedan and take the fight back to the SUVs?

Looks

skoda slavia review

The Slavia manages to look like a slightly smaller Octavia with the muscular bonnet, aggressive front grille and the sporty bumper. The details of the LED headlamps and DRLs look good too, and the fog lamps get halogen bulbs for better illumination. What helps its case further is the size. This sedan is larger than the original Octavia which launched back in 2002, and when compared to the rivals, the Slavia is the widest, tallest and gets the longest wheelbase as well. 

From the side, the Octavia resemblance is more evident. And this is where the size of the Slavia really comes into the picture, thanks to the large glass area, a strong shoulder line and the relatively smaller 16-inch alloy wheels sitting on a high ground clearance. Speaking of the wheels, a lot of chatter has started with regards to them not being 17s. To me, the 16s are definitely the better choice. These dual tone wheels look good, and the generous sidewall protects the rims and the occupants from harsher blows that the roads can offer – a fair trade.

At the back, the design is subtle. The tail lamps feature LED highlights, and the Skoda lettering makes it look a bit premium. Also interesting is that throughout the exterior, there is no engine or variant badging. However, if you really wish to know what engine is under the hood, the 1.0-litre or the larger 1.5-litre, look under the rear bumper. The bigger engine gets a dual tip exhaust, while the smaller one gets a single tip. Shame, though, that Skoda did not take advantage of this and put shiny exhaust tips extending to the bumper. Heck, even some subtle badging to denote the bigger engine would’ve been great. Overall, the Slavia gets an impressive presence, with the front bringing some aggression to the look, and the rear being more humble. 

Interiors

skoda slavia review

There are two sides to the interiors. One is well executed, and the other, not so much. The well executed part is the design. The dashboard looks good with the gloss black panels and the bronze strip running across the width, all the way into the side AC vents. And despite different layers and a standing 10-inch touchscreen, the appeal remains minimalist. The steering follows the same philosophy with just two spokes, and there is a subtle use of chrome. Touchpoints like the steering, gear shifter and the leatherette seats feel premium as well. 

The not-so-impressive bit is the quality and fit of the cabin. There are hard plastics all round, whereas cars like the Honda City offer a bit of soft and premium touch. Also, the panels, especially the bronze strip and the AC vent housing, are made of thin, low-quality plastics and bend with minimum force. They also creek and make noises, which can be a recipe for rattling sounds coming in the cabin in the later part of the ownership. The roof liner feels flimsy and the cabin light buttons should really have been smoother in operation. Also, and this might be a nitpick, why are there no soft folding grab handles in a Rs 16 lakh car? Skoda really should have looked into fixing these as customers don't expect such quality from the brand. 

Features

skoda slavia review

Unlike the cabin experience, which is a mixed bag, the feature bag of the Slavia is full. For the driver, it offers automatic headlamps and wipers, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, manual seat-height adjustment, keyless entry with push-button start/stop, and finally, a digital driver’s display which is a new addition over the Kushaq. It is the same unit as the Taigun and is fully customizable in three layouts, giving you the freedom to have the desired information up on the screen. However, the yellow theme cannot be changed, and at least should have been different between the 1.0 and the 1.5 litre engine options. 

As for the infotainment, the fluid 10-inch screen makes its way here with a friendly interface. It has in-built apps like Gaana and BBC news, which will require a hotspot connection to operate. The in-built maps are offline, though. Also, the wireless Android Auto bugs creep in here too with music playback issues (plays two tracks simultaneously and music starts playing on the phone’s speakers when the car’s ignition is switched off) while Wireless Apple CarPlay works as intended. This, combined with the wireless charger, makes for a very convenient everyday setup. The impressive 8-speaker sound system also comes with a punchy bass, thanks to the amplifier and the boot-mounted subwoofer. 

skoda slavia review

Creature comforts and cabin practicality are well sorted with automatic climate control, ventilated seats and a sunroof. The wireless charging pad is cleverly designed to not take up the space in the storage, plus you get more storage under the sliding armrest and a driver side pocket. The glove box, though, could have been slightly larger, but nevertheless, is cooled. Charging options are Type-C all around the cabin with one 12V socket. The Slavia offers a good safety package as well with ESP as standard, upto 6 airbags, ISOFIX seat anchors, hill hold, Multi Collision Brakes and Tyre Pressure Warning System. 

Rear Seats

skoda slavia review

Rear seat comfort is crucial for a sedan, as the mantle of the original boss car needs to be carried with caution. Luckily, Slavia does not disappoint. The seat base is large and well contoured, and so is the seat back. This offers good support for the entire body including the under-thigh and shoulders. The recline angle is just right, and long journeys will be comfortable in this seat. Space is generous too with good knee, leg and head room. The overall visibility is good with a large glass area, thanks to the large windows and a rear quarter glass, the light roof liner, and the sunroof. 

The limitation, however, is for three people. The strong contouring of the seats and limited width of the cabin pushes the three occupants closer to each other so much so that the shoulders start to completely overlap. And that is not comfortable. But if you seat 2, these seats are very comfortable. And that is when you will enjoy the features as well like an armrest with cupholders, which is at the same height as the door armrest, two Type-C ports, rear reading lights (which again suffer from quality issues), rear AC vents and mobile pockets. But, Skoda should have gone an extra mile to add window shades, and at least a rear windscreen sunshade that even the competition offers. 

Boot Space

skoda slavia review

433, 385 and 425. These are the boot space figures in litres for the Creta, Kushaq and Harrier, respectively. The Slavia - 521L. It can take up two large suitcases with ease with space left for more bags and overnighters. Plus, because the boot is deep, you can even stack suitcases one over the other. However, the loading lip is a bit high so heavier luggage will require some effort. 

Engine And Performance

skoda slavia review

The Slavia is available with a 1.0-litre, three cylinder and 1.5-litre four cylinder engines. Both are petrol and turbocharged and are available with manual and automatic transmission options. The one litre will surely be the one most of you are looking to buy, so let’s start there. On this drive, we sampled the 6-speed AT. 

This is the same engine we have sampled in the Rapid and the Kushaq, and the refinement for this three-pot mill remains impressive. However, in the Slavia, the better cabin insulation helps it feel even better. Another improvement is the crawl function. In the Rapid, the initial acceleration when you let go of the brakes was a bit too aggressive and made you get on the brakes more aggressively every time you were in traffic. This was better in the Kushaq but has been eradicated from Slavia. The initial acceleration here is smooth and just as much as you'd want. 

skoda slavia review

This smoother nature of Slavia’s tune continues when you get going as well. The throttle feels a bit more laid back, and hence the acceleration feels more relaxed. A downside to this is that a quick change of pace requires effort. It's only when you go heavy on the accelerator that the urgency kicks in and the transmission downshifts. For regular overtakes, it likes to hold gear and use its segment-leading torque to get you going. 

But that doesn't mean that there is any lack of power. Press the accelerator harder and the transmission will go down a couple of cogs to get you in the turbo-zone. And then, overtakes, even the quicker ones, can be done. It's just that in this situation, you can hear the engine work hard. Speaking of the transmission, the shifts feel seamless here. It has a tendency to go up the gears quickly to keep the drive relaxed, and hence while cruising in the city, 3rd, 4th and 5th gear come up without you noticing it. Slavia also gets idle engine start/stop and brake energy recuperation. This works smoothly and helps save fuel as well. Hence, the claimed efficiency here is higher than the Kushaq. 

We also sampled the 1.5-litre engine with the manual transmission on this drive but aren't allowed to talk about it just yet. It will be updated here on the 3rd of March. 

1.5-litre Manual Transmission

The difference between the 1-litre and the 1.5-litre engine is evident from the time you press the starter. It is much smoother and even the engine note feels more muted. Start revving it and the refinement comes into play. As you set off, the Slavia just feels more effortless with this motor. The acceleration is smooth and linear, thanks to the creamy power delivery and the revs climb effortlessly. This just makes the drive experience more relaxed and effortless. Even when you go for overtakes, it takes less throttle input to execute it. 

Another advantage is that even when being pushed closer to the redline, the 1.5-litre doesn't sound or feel stressed. It is an engine that likes to rev and feels natural while doing so. This is contrasted to the 1-litre which does sound and feel stressed while revving hard. And when you decide to put your foot down, the Slavia 1.5 has the capability to charge ahead. The acceleration is strong and the revs climb smoothly. Plus with the manual, the throws are short and the clutch is light, which makes the experience even more satisfying. 

And don't think that you lose out a lot on fuel efficiency, because the claimed numbers are 18.72kmpl for the Manual and 18.41kmpl for the automatic. For the 1-litre they are 19.47kmpl for the manual and 18.07kmpl for the automatic. This is partially helped by the cylinder deactivation tech, which can shut two cylinders while coasting or cruising, to save fuel. The 1.5-litre Slavia feels better to drive in every aspect than the 1-litre. Be it spirited driving or effortless cruising, the 1.5-litre is better. 

Ride and handling

skoda slavia review

The Slavia’s suspension, like the engine tune, is well suited for the city. It cushions you well from the surface, especially the everyday bumps like speedbreakers and broken roads. It absorbs all of those bumps easily and keeps the cabin stable. Larger bumps can be felt, and the suspension tends to make a thud as well, but the suspension does take care of the harshness. On the highways, the Slavia remains very stable and mile munching will be effortless. 

This becomes all the more impressive when Slavia’s handling comes into play. The sedan turns in confidently, and the body roll is kept in check. At speeds, the steering does weigh up and offers just the right amount of feedback. And if you enjoy driving eagerly through a set of corners, the Slavia can step up its game. The electronic differential lock can manage the speed of the inner wheels to give you loads of grip. Hence, as you go faster, the Slavia starts to feel sportier and can hold its line really well and tight. This is when you’d wish for the steering to be more engaging to get a better feel of the tyres. And since we are asking for a better steering, spritted driving would have also benefited from better bite from the brakes. 

Another important aspect that we need to discuss is the ground clearance. With 179mm of clearance, the Slavia is boasting almost SUV figures. This is 14mm more than the City and just 9mm less than the Kushaq. Numbers apart, even the front and rear overhangs are very well managed. Result, the Slavia did not scrape once in our drive. We intentionally went fast and braked on speed breakers, but were unable to run out of clearance. Something no other sedan can do on the segment - give you a peace of mind on Indian roads. 

skoda slavia review

Price and variants

The Slavia is available in three variants - Active, Ambition, and Style. The 1.5-litre engine is only available with the Style variant, which will also have the option of the 1.0-litre manual and automatic. In terms of pricing (ex-showroom), the 1.0-litre variants will go head to head with the Honda City whereas the 1.5-litre sits above the segment.

Ex-showroom prices

Variants

1-litre TSI

1.5-litre TSI

Difference

Active MT

Rs 10.69 lakh

-

-

Ambition MT

Rs 12.39 lakh

-

-

Ambition AT

Rs 13.59 lakh

-

-

Style MT (w/o sunroof)

Rs 13.59 lakh

-

-

Style MT

Rs 13.99 lakh

Rs 16.19 lakh

Rs 2.2 lakh

Style AT / DSG

Rs 15.39 lakh

Rs 17.79 lakh

Rs 2.4 lakh

Verdict

skoda slavia review

The Slavia has proved to be a very competent sedan. It looks good, drives and handles very well, is loaded with features and practicality, and the 1.0-litre engine is a great allrounder. If Skoda could have worked on improving the interior quality, the Slavia would have been an almost flawless package. But as it stands, the quality is a disappointment and the space for three at the back is limited. 

But what the Slavia is doing very well is taking the fight back to the SUVs. Its SUV-ish ground clearance keeps you worry-free even when feeling a bit adventurous, and the ride comfort will suit all the family members. It is definitely a sedan that does not make you miss the SUV and goes on to offer more to the driver. If you have been looking for a reason to buy a sedan again, you just got one.

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