2021 Skoda Kushaq Road Testing Review: The 2021 Skoda Kushaq, without exaggeration is the most significant car that the Czech brand has produced in India in the more than 20 years it’s been in existence.
The success or failure of the Kushaq will determine if the Volkswagen Group can continue to be a niche company in India or if it can claim the bigger and more lucrative automotive market currently dominated Japanese and Korean competitors.
Skoda India is targeting the mid-sized SUV buyer with the Kushaq. This segment offers buyers a lot of choice and provides a great deal of value for their money. We will see how the Kushaq compares in this highly competitive market.
2021 Skoda Kushaq Style, Dimensions, Ground Clearance
On paper, the new Skoda is smaller than other SUVs in its segment (L: 4,225mm; W: 1,760mm; H: 1,612mm), and visually. However, this does not stop it making an impact on the visuals.
Although the bright colours are a plus, Skoda India has managed to replicate the richness of larger SUVs, which is why they are so expensive. Skoda’s SUV-signature split-LED headlamps are very detailed.
The crystalline effect gives them a more rounded appearance. There is also more flair to the face with the large butterfly grille and sharply cut silver and grey elements on the bumper.
The more defined lines along the bonnet and doors continue this sense, with the 17-inch alloys twin-spoke Style trim adding further to this sense. Skoda’s large lettering on the fenders seems to capitalize on India’s goodwill.
However, the profile of the Kushaq shows that it could have used a wider and more upright stance for its ‘SUV’. This is a popular choice among buyers in this segment. This would have added to the finely detailed elements, such as the large silver roof rails or the 155mm (laden) ground clearance.
The Kushaq’s design has no practical limitations. It is a characteristic of most SUVs built on the MQB architecture used by Volkswagen Group, including the India-specific MQB A0-IN.
The rear, which is a Skoda as it should be, looks just as good as the front. Although the bootlid is stubby, the load-lip is relatively low. However, the C-shaped LED-highlighted taillamps with crystalline strakes are rich in detail.
The bulged panel with Skoda lettering, C-shaped reflectors under the lamps, and a small amount of chrome below the discrete badging is a sign of an extroverted yet still very classy interpretation. The 1.0-litre Kushaq and the 1.5-litre Kushaq are identical in the single Style trim that they are both available in.
2021 Skoda Kushaq Interiors and Features, Cabin Space
The Skoda Kushaq is unsurprisingly the benchmark in this segment for general fit-and finish levels. It starts with a satisfying thunk to your doors.
Although there aren’t many soft surfaces, except for the door pads and centre armrests, this is not unusual at this price. Each of the three Kushaq models has a different interior finish and upholstery.
This is a move that Skoda India seems to have made to make the Kushaq’s cabin more affordable. With the new Skoda themes, the dashboard features large air vents and a horizontally-layered theme that culminates with the bulged central stack with the touch-screen.
It feels great to touch the orange-speckled gloss-black panel, the hexagonal crosshatching, and the various plastic finishes. This segment is unique because of the light and dark grey themes with subtle orange highlights and ambient lighting.
The usual parts-bin raid was followed by the new two-spoke steering and rotary controls. There were also stalks, gear-lever, and other switchgear coming down from other Skoda cars. It also has a high level of perceived quality thanks to the soft leatherette upholstery and supportive seats.
The Kushaq has few physical controls. The climate control now includes capacitive touch buttons and the new infotainment system that is available globally. The unit’s 10.1 inch size is identical to the MIB3 system, but it was built on older MIB hardware.
It’s intuitively laid out, quick-reacting and easy to pair with your smartphone and has an app store. Although the infotainment crashed on both of our cars, these aren’t common issues as they were pre-production cars. It’s nice to have the four Type-C chargers as well as the wireless charger.
People who have been driving a Polo or Rapid for a while will be able to see the differences Skoda made with the Kushaq. These are even more noticeable with this SUV’s premium positioning.
These ten-year-old cars’ instrument clusters are a direct lift. The Virtual Cockpit will be available soon. The power windows, which have an auto-down function only for the driver, work quite loudly with the very effective ventilated seats.
The plastics used in the air vents feel fragile, as well as the steering mounted rollers. This is quite different from the rest of the old switchgear.
The Kushaq’s lack of a panoramic sunroof (a simple one is available), an app-only connected tech suite, and a powered driver’s chair are all industry-standard features that make it less attractive.
Fortunately, there are some thoughtful additions that are not common in this segment like the auto wipers or the reach adjustable steering column.
The Skoda’s practicality is not lacking. After a long time, we finally pulled out our measuring tapes to find the Kushaq as spacious as any of its closest competitors, despite having smaller outer dimensions.
The 2,651 mm wheelbase is a class-leading feature, providing ample legroom and elbowroom in the rear. Additionally, the central tunnel has been removed, making it possible to have a child as a third person.
The well-cushioned rear seats are supportive. Skoda India has supported the Kushaq’s front seats to compensate for the MQB architecture’s low floor.
This gives you more room for your feet. The roof’s low height and single-pane solarroof make it a comfortable experience for taller people. However, there is plenty of headroom.
The Skoda-staple practicality features complete the package.
You have plenty of storage and door pockets, as well as gripped bottle holders, seatback phones-holders, and useful holder straps for the boot and door bins. However, the rear sunblinds of the new Octavia have been removed.
2021 Skoda Kushaq 2.0 AT Driving Impressions
The 1.0-litre TSI engine that debuted on the Rapid was now the most popular option for the Kushaq. It can be fitted to all three variants. The three-cylinder unit doesn’t have a straight lift.
Some modifications are being made to improve efficiency, reduce emissions, and still make the same 115PS. The torque has been slightly increased to 178 Nm from the Rapid, but both peak torques are still within the same rev range.
The six-speed torque converter was also retuned to this application. This includes a stronger focus on efficiency and a different tuning to fit the Kushaq.
Although these changes have maintained fuel efficiency in the same range as the Rapid, it hasn’t been an easy trade-off. This engine’s spirited nature has been reduced to a certain extent.
However, there is still some progress around town as shown by our numbers. It isn’t as smooth or refined as the sedan. The powerband’s lower parts are more obvious and the gearbox doesn’t seem as eager to downshift for overtakes or the like.
Sport mode is also less rauty. You have paddle shifters if you want to move the Kushaq. This gearbox’s tendency to pull the car ahead of a stop is still a problem. It requires more attention from the driver in stop/start traffic.
But more obvious is the very apparent vibrations entering the cabin, especially at idle.We’ve come to expect positive dynamics from Kushaq.
The Kushaq may be the most capable SUV you can purchase in India’s mainstream. The Kushaq feels light and precise, and it is easy to maneuver on daily commutes due to its tight turning radius and clear sightlines.
The Kushaq is able to handle most bumps at city speeds well, and passengers will only feel the smallest low-speed imperfections.The Kushaq is a great choice for those who want to run a lot.
The Kushaq feels calm at highway speeds. With the engine running in the highest, most responsive part of its powerband, and the gearbox holding a gear steady, it is easier to make progress.
The Kushaq feels more like a bigger Rapid around bends as the ride becomes smoother. The SUV has a little more roll, but the front end is alert and the steering response progressive are the same. This gives it a feeling of poise and agility that’s so rare in this segment.
2021 Skoda Kushaq 1.5 DCT Driving Impressions
You will quickly realize that the Kushaq 1.5 is the engine to choose. With the engine’s more quiet operation and fewer vibrations, the Kushaq 1.5 feels like a more refined package.
This motor is a direct upgrade to the Karoq’s and works in conjunction with the 7-speed DCT. The outputs are identical at 150 PS and 250 Nm.
This engine is more efficient at metering power and the DCT is more focused on drivingability. The Kushaq’s movements feel effortless. DCT can be a little indecisive at crawling speeds, but this soon fades into well-timed and decisive shifts.
Sport mode also makes the large displacement engine more responsive and delivers power earlier in the rev band. The paddle shifters are a great way to enjoy the engine’s snappier nature. This Kushaq version is very fast, as we have seen in our tests.
The Karoq’s well-calibrated stop-start and cylinder-deactivation (a segment-first and a segment-first) have been retained. This engine, with its higher gear ratio, is actually more efficient in real life than the 1.0-litre.
Skoda India appears to have made minor adjustments in the suspension and steering setup to compensate for the extra weight of the drivetrain. This has given the steering a little more weight, which improves its already precise nature.
The Kushaq 1.5 seems to be a little more stable over bumps and at higher speeds, with the only downside being a slightly less alertness when you are rushing around bends.
2021 Skoda Kushaq Security
The Skoda Kushaq is a very reassuring package, until you reach the absurd deletion of safety features on the top AT models. Traction control is standard across the entire range, which is a first in its segment.
The Style trim top adds notable aids such as roll-over mitigation or an electronic differential lock. Although there are six airbags, the rear-view camera is not very clear. The Kushaq maintained impressive stopping distances even without rear disc brakes.
2021 Skoda Kushaq Verdict and Expected Prices
The Skoda Kushaq’s price range is between Rs 10.50 lakh to Rs 17.60 lakh. Its Korean counterparts are much more affordable.
The compromise 1.0 AT drivetrain may not be liked by some buyers. It is also less expensive than its Korean counterparts.
The Kushaq, with its 1.5-litre engine, is a Skoda. But, look beyond this. This engine is more economical than the smaller one, and has the same solidity and refinement that Skoda is known for.
It’s practical and comfortable, while still being a great daily driver. There is also a high level of driver involvement that you won’t find in any other engine.
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