The long-awaited compact SUV, Skoda Kushaq, has finally been launched. Kushaq means ‘King in Sanskrit,’ and the importance of Skoda on this SUV is huge. It is the result of the MQB A0 IN platform (Volkswagen Group MQB Platform), and it is the made-for India SUV that Skoda has been promising for a long.
Now that the Kushaq is here, the question remains that has the hype been justified? Only a detailed review can answer that!
How does the Skoda Kushaq look?
The dimensions suggest a design somewhat between a Creta and a Venue. Skoda has tried to find the right balance between compactness and an SUV presence. The Kushaq on paper seems smaller than rivals since it has a length of 4,225mm and a width of 1,760mm.
Kushaq is a quality design that gets your attention at very first sight. It is also amazing that the SUV comes in both the Honey Orange color and the Tornado red paintwork, which looks superb with a metallic touch.
You will no doubt appreciate the Kushaq more when you notice the nice detailing. The front-end, for example, is pure Skoda with the large butterfly grille. The LED headlights are divided into two parts. There is cladding, and the headlamp and the bonnet merge well, with the edges being sharpened off.
Like any SUV, you get cladding on the side along with roof rails, but we like the twin lines running across the side. The rear, like a crossover, gets interesting shaped tail-lamps in a ‘C’ design. We suggest going for the orange or the red. You can get the Kushsaq in metallic silver, a carbon steel color, and white.
The first touchpoints are impressive and remind you that you are in a Skoda. The Kushaq feels premium and well built, with even the door feeling heavy and closing with a reassuring feel. The cabin has a grey/black look with some colored accents while you see an old-school manual handbrake along with classic analog dials.
While an electronic handbrake would have been nice, the dials are clear and simple to read, so no problem there. New to the Kushaq like all Skoda cars are the two-spoke steering wheel.
The steering wheel is unique and of nice quality, along with a chrome finish to the switches. The pattern on the dash to the touch screen is good. Unfortunately, the air-con vents could have been finished better, while the roof lining could have been sturdier.
The steering adjusts for both rake and reaches, which is good, while the driving position is nice. Look closer, and the climate controls are touch-based, and while it may seem difficult to use, the actual usage is not bad. The act of increasing/lowering temperature/ac setting is easy via a touch system.
Back to space and the Kushaq has the longest wheelbase in its class, while in actuality, space is decent. Getting in and out is not an issue, and for tall persons, the rear seat has enough legroom and headroom though the width is a bit on the narrow side which means only two passengers can fit comfortably. That said, the boot is huge, and the door pockets are big too.
What about the Features?
Dethroning the Koreans is tough, but Skoda has tried that. The 10inch touch screen is slick and easy to use with a nice display layout. Then you get various tech in that like Wi-Fi hotspots, wireless smartphone connectivity, preloaded apps like Gaana, etc. There is also the Skoda connect with the MySkoda app, which lets you have a whole host of info, including remote vehicle access and more.
The other features include an electric sunroof, ventilated seats, a 6-speaker audio system, USB-C ports, ambient lighting, rear ac vents, and more. That said, its competition has more with a panoramic sunroof, cooled seats, rearview camera plus sensors, cruise control, etc. Safety equipment comprises six airbags (curiously two for the DSG 1.5 TSI), ESC as standard, hill-hold, tire pressure monitoring system, ISOFIX, etc.
Driving Experience of Skoda Kushaq
The Kushaq is a perfect driver’s choice for the way it handles and the engines it offers. It has two turbocharged petrol engines and no diesel. The range starts with the 115hp/178Nm 1.0 TSI, which comes with either a 6-speed manual or a torque converter automatic. We sampled the automatic 1.0 TSI first.
With the rise in demand for automatics, the 1.0 TSI auto does make sense, and here the torque converter 6-speed is perfectly suited for the job. Unlike the manual, the automatic hide the engine’s lag and works out as a smooth everyday city SUV. The engine is refined for a three-cylinder, and it is only when pushed that it gets noisy. In traffic, the automatic gearbox and the engine work together to make it an effortless drive.
Also, the light steering comes to be a plus point here. Further brownie points include a comfortable ride with a slight firm edge, but the toughness is there to see. You go over potholes or bad road surfaces with a sense of authority- it feels well built and can take a beating. The 1.0 TSI gets paddle shifters and an S model so that you can do that quick overtake easily – no problem there.
That said, the engine to buy if you are looking for performance thrills is the 1.5 TSI. This is an imported engine and makes 150hp and 250Nm. These figures are class-leading, and that shows. It feels and is quick with a strong performance. It is also hugely practical to live with since the 6-speed manual required very few downshifts with so much torque and power.
The gearbox is slightly heavy but has that performance feel, and it is a joy to drive. Out on the open road, the Kushaq feels like the sportiest compact SUV, but the excellent ride along with high-speed stability is what wins it for us. Efficiency wise do not expect more than 10/11kmpl for the 1.5 while the 1.0 will stretch.
So, should you buy one?
Prices start at Rs 10.4 lakh for the base spec Kushaq 1.0 TSI manual, but even the base variants are well equipped while there are only three trims on offer. The top-end auto 1.0 that we drove is Rs 15.7 lakh, while the 1.5 TSI manual is Rs 16.19 lakh. The 1.5 TSI DSG is the most expensive here at Rs 17.5 lakh. The Kushaq does have some shortcomings like the lack of diesel or some features which its rivals offer. Moreover, it could have also been priced better. But, looking at the quality, design, and, more importantly, the driving experience, the Kushaq makes sense. If you love driving, the Kushaq it is.