Why would I buy it?
- Excellent driving dynamics
- Extremely practical thanks to the huge boot
- SUV-like ground clearance
Why would I avoid it?
- Lacks refinement in a few areas
Engine and Performance
Powering the Slavia are the same engine options that you get in the Kushaq. So you get a 1.0-litre and a 1.5-litre TSI engine with manual and automatic options. What we are driving is the 1.0-litre TSI variant. Now, this engine can be had with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed torque converter automatic gearbox and we're driving the former. With 114bhp and 175Nm on tap, the Slavia feels peppy enough for daily driving situations. Response is immediate and overtaking traffic is a quick affair. It’s refined too and with 175Nm of torque available from pretty low in the power band, the 1.0-litre TSI goes about its business calmly.
However, try heavy footing it, and you can feel the three-cylinder motor running out of breath. Revving this motor isn’t a rewarding experience and low and mid-range performance is its forte. We have driven this engine in the Polo and in the Kushaq and it feels similar in the Slavia as well. Skoda claims a 0-100 kmph time of 10.7 seconds which is quick but something we will verify once we test the car.
Also, at higher revs, the refinement starts waning and the engine takes on a gruff note. Unlike the Honda City’s naturally aspirated engine which revs like there’s no tomorrow, the Slavia just isn’t as rev-happy. For those looking for more performance, one can always opt for the 1.5-litre engine.
The six-speed manual gearbox goes about its job seamlessly. Shifts are positive and the throws are short and sporty. The clutch pedal runs deep but is progressive.
The Slavia also comes with stop/start technology which according to Skoda aids fuel efficiency. The Slavia returns a claimed 18.07kmpl which is phenomenal but then expect the figures to reduce under normal driving conditions. Again, something that we will test soon.
After the 1.0-litre TSI, the 1.5-litre engine feels like a whole different animal. Right off the bat, the bigger engine feels a lot more eager and refined too. 150bhp and 250Nm is plenty of power to play with and the Slavia obliges. Acceleration is quick and the seven-speed DSG gearbox keeps the engine right on the button enabling very quick progress. Skoda claims a 0-100kmph time of 8.8 seconds which is entry-level sports car territory. In-gear acceleration is just terrific and one is never ever left wanting as far as performance is concerned.
According to Skoda, the engine does not just promise scintillating performance, but is fuel-efficient as well. Along with Start/Stop and Active Cylinder Technology which automatically shuts down two cylinders when the car is not under load, the claimed fuel efficiency figure stands at 18.41 kmpl, which is brilliant but something we will verify in our road-test.
Ride and Handling
Let’s get to the ride quality now. Like all Skoda's the ride quality is firm and at slow speeds, you do feel the bumps. But as the speeds get higher, the Slavia rides flat on undulations and the ride quality improves considerably. With 179mm of ground clearance, will the Slavia roll in the corners or has Skoda managed to get it right? Indeed they have managed to get it right. The suspension balance is spot on and the Slavia corners flat. What also helps is the steering which feels direct and has enough weight to inspire confidence. Pushing it hard into the corners, there is understeer, but the ESP isn’t overly intrusive and allows you to correct your line. Overall, the Slavia is a fun car to drive.
Talking about the design, one look at the Slavia and you know this is a Skoda. One can immediately connect to the now discontinued Rapid and the Slavia looks like a bigger more matured version of it. Starting with the front, taking centre stage is the hexagonal grille with these vertical slat.You also get chrome surround to add a dash of premiumness. The headlights are what Skoda calls Crystalline LED headlamps which also get L-shaped DRLs and these look very similar to the ones on the Kushaq. Moving towards the bottom, you get the air dam with the honeycomb effect. The honeycomb effect continues in the fog lamp housing as well.
Now moving to the side, the Slavia gets a sporty profile. It’s not as swoopy as the coupe-ish Verna but does get a more sporty side profile than the Honda City. You get plenty of cuts and creases and some extra details too in the form of this fender garnish and this chrome detail on the C-pillar. Adding more pizzazz are the 16-inch Ving alloy wheels.
Moving to the back, it’s a little plain-Jane here. You get the same crystalline effect on the split tail lamps and a big Skoda badge running across. Overall, the Slavia is a handsome looking sedan and what helps is that it looks like a scaled-down Octavia.
Comfort, Convenience and features
On the insides, the first thing that you notice is the steering wheel. The two-spoke steering wheel looks and feels outstanding and contributes majorly to that feel-good factor. Then you get the two-tone dash that’s designed quite nicely. You also get this gold band running across the dash which can be a hit or a miss. What is definitely a hit is the 10-inch infotainment system which sits in a slightly protruded area and looks great. The instrument console gets a piano black surround and on the inside gets an eight-inch virtual cockpit which gets nice sharp graphics and a bunch of information. Also, like on the outside, you get small details on the inside as well like the Skoda brand on the side of the instrument console.
Now getting to the seats, these are very comfortable with a good amount of support. The steering wheel is adjustable for rake and reach, so it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. These seats also get cooling function and what is great is that the co-passenger seat gets height adjustment too.
At the rear, you get plenty of legroom and the backrest angle is also just right. What isn’t as remarkable is the under thigh support which could have been better. The width too is similar to what you get in the Kushaq but more on rear seating when we test the car later.
Boot space is one of the major highlights of the Slavia. What you can see here is 521 litres of boot space which is more than what you get in the City and a lot more than what you get in the Verna. But that’s not all, the Slavia has another ace up its sleeve. These seats fold which increases the capacity to a massive 1050 litres which is just as much as you get in most SUVs.
Features are an important part of any car's arsenal and the Slavia is as loaded as it gets. The list includes the 10-inch infotainment system, virtual cockpit, wireless Apple CarPlay and android auto, wireless phone charging, ambient lighting, ventilated leather seats, electric sunroof, eight-speaker sound system with a subwoofer, air purifier and more.
On the safety front, the Slavia comes with six airbags, ABS with ESC, EBD, electronic differential lock multi-collision brake, hill hold, TPMS and brake disc wiping.
So we've driven the Slavia and what do we think? As a product, the Slavia is brilliant. It’s got the looks, it’s got the features, the 1.0-litre offers good performance and you also have the choice of the stonking 1.5-litre engine. It’s also practical with SUV-rivalling boot space and ground clearance.
But will that be enough to pull SUV buyers or make it the king of the sedan segment. For that, Skoda really needs to shake up the segment and price the Slavia right. The product is already promising what will make it a guaranteed hit and that is an aggressive price tag. The 1.0-litre version will be available in three variants and we expect the Slavia prices to start at around Rs. 10.5 lakh which will undercut the Honda City.
But can Skoda do better and pull a rabbit out of the hat? I guess we will have to wait to find out.
Pictures by Kapil Angane