The mid-size SUV segment finally gets a big refresher. After Koreans, French and Japanese, it is time for the European to take a turn. Skoda Kushaq is the product we waited for quite some time. Skoda India has launched the mid-size SUv with some fanfare and some criticism already within a few months of its launch. We told you sometime earlier in our videos about our first impressions. Today we road test and after driving both the engines on offer. How is Kushaq with its Indian-ized platform that is based on the worldwide and highly acclaimed global architecture that seems to be winning hearts everywhere? We tell you just that after clocking over 800 kms on it.
On the outside, the butterfly grille size is the biggest we have ever seen and it is for the good, as it does look befitting. The rather simple LED DRL at the front and very fancy-looking C-shape LED tail-lamps make the car look all typically Skoda. The C-pillar and the window frame make it look like a proper European SUV and just like all its siblings.
A very macho lower part of the front bumper on both ends makes the Kushaq look tough and rugged. The build quality on the outside seems and sounds great and it scores high on crash tests like any other Skoda. The elements on the car, such as grille, LED lights on both ends, a large wheelbase, multispoke diamond-cut wheels add substance to the stance of the Kushaq making it one of the best looking mid-size SUV’s out there when it comes to subtle and smart, understated yet powerful.
On the inside, the build and quality are good and so is the expansive feature list we have explained time and again in our launch report. You get every feature possible in the saloon. Right from automatic lights and wipers to reversing cameras, single ambient light, projector lamps and more. The car is devoid of the large panoramic sunroof, power seats, front parking sensors, and a digital cockpit for now.
The instrument cluster area has all fuel economy indicators and other bits can be seen with a touch of the toggle button on the right side of the steering buttons. A fantastic sound system by Skoda themselves is on offer makes the experience top-class. The main screen is slick, quick and works quite well. There are some bugs with Android phones when it comes to playing music on our test car which should be a one-off case. Wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto work flawlessly. Skoda’s MY connect system includes a host of GPS-related features such as GEO and time fencing and much more. We loved the illumination and spread from the headlamps as they were more than required. The fog lamps are halogen but LED lights and DRL add to the aesthetic appeal as well.
Space is more than sufficient with enough shoulder and knee room you expect, is here. Leg and headroom continue to be in good supply but as always it is more of a four-seater than a five-seater. The boot space is good enough at 400 liters and so is the overall practicality of the interior. Road and wind noise inside the cabin is also well-controlled thanks to good insulation all around. Like any other Skoda premium car, it is still a pleasant place to be thanks to things like Aircare with multi-level filtration. Safety kit continues to be high with electronic stability control and six airbags on the top-end variant, Hill Hold Assist, ABS and EBD, and more come as standard.
Skoda TSi engines are smooth, free-revving, and low on NVH and the one on the Kushaq is no different. Be it in any part of the rev range. Low and mid-range are good on the 1.5 turbocharged petrol motor that makes a 150 PS and 250 Nm of torque going through the fantastic, smooth, seamless, and quick-shifting 7-speed DSG automatic. The engine is linear flexible and powerful at the same time. The 1.5 is a bit crude at higher RPMS as vibrations and sound can creep in the cabin but that is only apparent at race pace. 1.5 delivers spectacular fuel economy of 14 km/l in Mumbai-Pune run. Dealing with traffic of both cities and a slightly spirited highway run too. All thanks to 7 speeds and cylinder deactivation.
The 1.0 litre making 115 PS and 175 Nm of torque also has a fast and smooth shifting gearbox but the shifts are not seamless, which feels exciting for enthusiasts but keen everyday joes will think of it otherwise. There is a bit of turbo lag between 1400-1700 RPM but below and above that it moves with authority. 1.0 litre delivers 10 km/l in the city and 15 km/l on the highway. Manual gearboxes are quite smooth on both engines. Clutch is light, long travel and have a typical bite point just like another VW group of cars. Both engines do make sense in any condition. However, if you are limited to city-to-city runs, you should stick to 1.0. 1.5 litre if you want to go across the country. Both engines sound not so normal when it comes to exhaust notes but it is how you look (see, hear) at it that really matters.
The ride quality is good at all speeds making the Kushaq the best mid-size SUV’s to buy and drive yourself and even being driven around. The steering gives enough feedback and is very precise at all speeds. Wish it weighed up a bit more. High-speed stability is spot on thanks to the ideal balance of underlying stiffness and compliance. The brakes were good too with great pedal bite and lot of performance on offer. Body roll exists while changing lanes at high speeds but it is still a very confidence-inspiring car to drive at any given speed. Overall, a very easy-to-drive SUV, surpassing its rivals in this aspect as it provides fun and comfort at the same time.
2021 Skoda Kushaq Review, Verdict
The Kushaq is no doubt a new approach to the mid-size SUV. The SUV has the right balance of feature set, great petrol engines and superb manual and automatic gearboxes on offer. The cherry on the cake is the fantastic and livery dynamics that the Kushaq has to offer. The safety kit is good enough and we expect it to score quite high in crash tests too. The pricing, yes, is a bit higher and it may not let account for value when you consider active features but it is the passive features and experience that is surreal in this segment which you are paying for. Skoda Kushaq has our vote for the mid-size SUV as it truly shows what Skoda India can accomplish if they put heart and soul into a product made especially for the Indian market and ready to go the farthest corners of the globe.
2021 Skoda Kushaq TSi Review