Skoda's business model was reimagined in 2018. VW India's parent company committed a billion euros to ensure a customer-centric focus and affordable, low-cost products made in India for India. The first result of this renewed India focus is the Kushaq, which means Emperor in Sanskrit. The Kushaq, which will go on sale in June, aims to take over the segment currently dominated by the Korean cousins, the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos.
Skoda first arrived in India in 2001, and the Octavia, which debuted the following year, revolutionized the luxury segment. However, even though it had strong products like the Superb and the Fabia, the brand quickly became associated with driving pleasure and a muscular build due to poor after-sales service.
Are the Emperor's new robes adequate? It's a real eye-catcher, with a lot of styling details. Skoda crystal lighting elements can be found in the split lamps, headlamps on top, and daytime running lights (DRL) below. They sit on either side of a chrome-encrusted double-bar grille. For added strength, the chin has a large air dam that is highlighted by the skid plate. The overall lines are upright, giving it the appearance of an SUV, and it rides on a stylish set of alloy wheels.
Intricate crystal detailing can also be found in the split design tail lamps. The contouring also adds to the appeal of the back. The Kushaq is a surprise that catches your attention from every angle. But being king necessitates more than good looks—it necessitates core strength, which the Kushaq possesses.
It is built on the capable MQB AO IN platform, which was introduced by Volkswagen in India in 2019 as a modular platform on which to build its automobiles. Although the exterior dimensions aren't the best in class, they provide the most space between the wheels, which translates to enough room in the back seat for a six-footer. The width, on the other hand, is a problem. The cabin is cramped, and even though Skoda flattened the central tunnel, three people in the back would be uncomfortable. On the other hand, the rear passengers have their own set of AC vents and an armrest. A practical 385-liter boot is available for carrying luggage.
The interior design and quality are what stand out. The layered dash has a richness to it that feels premium. The modern-looking cabin features a 10-inch touchscreen, two-spoke steering, and feather touch controls. Unfortunately, the dials aren't digital, so they stand out in the otherwise modern cabin, despite their neat layout. The Kushaq, on the other hand, isn't short on features. Ventilated seats, ambient lighting, a cooled glovebox, a six-speaker system, internal memory storage, connected car technology, wireless smartphone connectivity, a sunroof, and a slew of safety features such as six airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, auto headlamps and wipers, hill hold control, and electronic stability control are all included.
Two petrol engines will power the Kushaq: a six-speed manual and a six-speed torque converter auto for the 1.0 TSI and a six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic DSG for the 1.5 TSI. It started with the 1.5 automatic, which has one of the smoothest gearboxes ever driven. It shifts up quickly, ensuring that the engine runs smoothly, but it also works well when you press your foot to the floor for a quick overtake. Expect some DSG hesitation, so don't expect it to be as smooth as a manual, but it kicks down quickly and delivers the power. The engine is strong and responsive, and it works well in conjunction with the automatic transmission to cover both city and highway driving.
Is it the Emperor on the roads? The Korean cousins, based on what we've seen, should undoubtedly be concerned. However, there are other factors to consider in addition to a strong product. First, Skoda must price it correctly—and rumors suggest it will be competitive—then persuade customers that they will receive a new and improved 2.0 after-sales experience. If Skoda succeeds, the Kushaq will recreate the magic that the Octavia created 20 years ago.