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Back in 2002, Skoda made its debut in India with an iconic car - the Octavia. Those were the years when sedans ruled the streets and it was the same period that gave us quite a few iconic cars. Among these cars, the Octavia carved out its own niche and attracted enthusiasts as well.
Over the years, all of Skoda's sedans made an impression and left a lasting mark in the Indian automotive market. Be it the premium European feel, the spaciousness and comfort, or the stellar performance, Skoda's sedans quickly became the byword for prestige and flair and they remain so to this day.
However, Indians' love for sedans was then slowly replaced with an attraction towards SUVs and their various segments. However, it does seem like Skoda wants to rekindle Indians' love for sedans, with its latest offering - the Skoda Slavia. It is in essence a replacement for the Skoda Rapid, however, it looks and feels like something from the next segment.
Is it a proper Skoda sedan? How does it perform and how comfortable is it? We drove the Skoda Slavia and it turned out to be quite impressive indeed. Read on to know more about the Skoda Slavia 1.5 turbo-petrol.
Design & Style
Without batting around the bush, let's get to the point. It is in the design and styling area that the Skoda Slavia scores the highest. It is a properly pretty sedan and one might even end up calling it gorgeous. No matter what angle one looks at it from, it is proportionate, and it is quite difficult to find things to nitpick about.
The Skoda Slavia features all the typical design traits of a modern Skoda. Up front is the signature Skoda butterfly grille with a chrome surround. The grille is flanked by sleek LED headlamps with LED DRLs. The headlamps along with the grille create the signature look of the Skoda Slavia.
These LED headlamps add a lot of character to the front-end of the Slavia. The L-shaped Crystalline LED DRLs inside the headlamp unit further make the sedan look nice and pretty. The front bumper gets some cuts and creases and a honeycomb element as well. The circular fog lamps are powered by a halogen bulb and there is an inverted L-shaped element placed near the fog lamps.
Making the sedan's front-end more attractive are the character lines on the bonnet. These lines also add a little muscle to the Skoda Slavia. Some more character lines are found on the side profile of the Skoda Slavia. The bottom window line is finished in chrome and this same chrome strip ends in a little boomerang shape near the C-pillar.
There is also a Chrome strip on the door handles which is a unique design trait. You also get Skoda badging on the front fenders. The Skoda Slavia boasts a sloping roofline that creates a couple-like sporty appearance. The shark fin antenna finished in black is yet another element that stands out as a premium feature.
The Skoda Slavia rides on diamond-cut, dual-tone 16-inch wheels. These alloy wheels add a ton of character to the Slavia. These are 10-spoke wheels, but they feature a unique pattern and it looks very stylish indeed. This alloy wheel design is available only on the top-spec model.
There are two alloy wheel options and one steel wheel option with the Slavia. The Active variant rides on steel wheels, the Ambition gets single-tone alloy wheels and the top-spec Style variant gets these dual-tone wheels. At the rear, the Skoda Slavia looks the classiest with lots of design lines flowing into the rear end. The roofline and shoulder-line all merge at the rear end.
The first element to grab your attention quite obviously are the LED tail lamps. The split tail lamps have an inverted L pattern integrated into it. There is the ‘SKODA' lettering on the bootlid and the bootlid itself has some unique design lines.
The rear bumper is large and voluptuous with a black honeycomb element integrated into it. It even gets a chrome strip. These are little details that make a huge difference when it comes to the styling aspect.
On the whole, the Skoda Slavia is a gorgeous car that will have you taking a second glance at it when it passes by you.
Cockpit & Interior
What's a Skoda sedan without an elegant and classy interior? Well, the designers and engineers have stuck to the rulebook and given the Skoda Slavia just that. Tug on the door handle and the door opens with a weight that is typical of Skoda cars.
You are greeted by a spacious, dual-tone interior. You immediately recognise that it is a premium car and the interior speaks loads of how much thought Skoda has put into it.
The first element to grab your attention will be the two-spoke steering wheel that is taken straight from the Skoda Kushaq as it is in line with Skoda's latest design language. It gets steering-mounted controls for music and calls. The knurled knobs on the steering wheel finished in silver speak volumes of the attention to detail and only add to the list of features that make this sedan feel premium.
We drove the top-spec model with the 7-speed DSG, and so the back of the steering wheel featured paddle shifters as well. Behind the steering wheel and associated levers is the 8-inch virtual cockpit. The full-colour display can be customised according to the driver's preferences as it has a few presets of where the tachometer and speedometer can be placed.
The driver can also customise what information is to be displayed at any given moment. Speaking of information, it displays quite a bit, including distance-to-empty, current fuel efficiency, average fuel efficiency, fuel levels, odometer, speedometer, etc. Looks premium and fancy for sure.
The dashboard is made of hard-touch plastic, which is the only let-down when it comes to the interior. However, it looks like premium soft-touch plastic. Keeping in line with the dual-tone beige and black theme, the upper part of the dashboard is finished in black. Connecting the two circular AC vents on both sides of the dashboard is a beige element.
Under the beige bit is a piano black strip that also runs across the dashboard. Right above this strip and at the centre of the dashboard is the 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system that features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Pairing your smartphone to the system is child's play and the touch interface is pretty smooth and fast.
Sound is reproduced through high-quality speakers and the top-spec Style variant even features a sub-woofer. Skoda has placed the sub-woofer inside the spare wheel, in the boot of the sedan. This does free up lots of space, however this extraordinary placement does limit the bass reproducing capabilities of the sub-woofer. The sound quality definitely could do with some improvement.
One of the most important features in the Slavia is the Skoda Connect telematics solution. It allows you to stay connected to the sedan through your smartphone. However, it still doesn't allow you to control any aspect of the car remotely and hence you can say goodbye to the thought of entering a cooled cabin. More features can definitely be added to the Skoda Connect suite.
Below the infotainment screen are the centre AC vents and below them, lie the controls for the automatic climate control. There are no buttons, sliders, or knobs to control the AC. The controlling happens via a haptic touch panel and this is one of the many elements that gives the user a premium experience.
The centre console continues with the premium feel and the gear lever even gets a leather boot. The piano black panel that surrounds the gear lever also features a few buttons that control various functions of the sedan including traction control, hill-hold control, etc. Ahead of the gear lever is a slot to place your smartphone and this also doubles up as a wireless charger.
Skoda has also provided USB Type-C ports to charge your smartphone or any other gadgets. On the passenger side of the dashboard, the Slavia features neatly-integrated ambient lighting.
Comfort, Practicality, and Boot Space
Comfort and practicality are certain areas where Skoda's cars always shine bright, the Slavia is no different. As aforementioned, the sedan is equipped with dual-tone seats. At this point, it is also worth mentioning that the dual-tone upholstery is only available on the top-spec Style variant and so are the leather seats. Other variants make do with single-tone fabric seats.
All seats in the Skoda Slavia are perforated for added comfort. However, the front seats also feature ventilation and this only boosts comfort levels. Long hours behind the wheel are all set to be so much more comfortable.
Speaking of comfort, the seats themselves are very comfortable and though we spent only a few hours on these seats, we could see ourselves spending so much more time in them. We even ended up taking a quick power nap in these seats in the midst of the shoot.
The rear is spacious and cozy too. The Skoda Slavia has a wheelbase of 2,651mm which is the highest in the segment and this leads to an abundance of legroom and knee room for the passengers. The Skoda Slavia is 1,752mm wide, which is again the largest in the segment and this also means three people can be seated in relative comfort. The adjustable headrests further increase comfort for passengers at the rear.
Passengers can also make use of the rear AC vents and the two Type-C ports to charge their devices. In case you do not want to seat three at the rear, you also get a fold-down armrest with integrated cupholders. This brings us to the storage spaces and cubbyholes in the Slavia. As it turns out, the Skoda Slavia is a very practical sedan and there are quite a few of these storage spaces.
There is a small storage space in the dashboard for the driver to store small items like a wallet. There are cup holders in the centre console, a deep pocket under the armrest, deep door pockets, smartphone pockets behind the seats, a coat hanger at the rear, etc. One can even access the boot via a hatch in the rear seat. It is quite practical then.
Speaking of boot, the Skoda Slavia boasts a boot space of 521 litres, which is once again the largest in the segment. It can swallow quite a bit of your luggage and more. The rear seat can be folded-down and once this is done, Skoda claims the Slavia has a space of 1,050 litres! That is acres of space for a mid-sized sedan. Skoda certainly seems to have covered the comfort, practicality, and stowage space section pretty well.
Engine Performance & Driving Impressions
Skoda's cars are not just about luxury and comfort. The sedans made by Skoda generally boast best-in-class performance figures and the Slavia 1.5 that we drove is a perfect example. It is powered by the 1.5-litre litre turbo-petrol engine taken from the Skoda Kushaq.
The Skoda Slavia is based on the MQB-A0-IN platform and is the second product to be launched under Skoda's India 2.0 strategy. This allows for a lot of part-sharing between different models.
As a result, the engine and gearbox combinations seen in the Skoda Slavia are taken straight from the Skoda Kushaq. You get two engine options and three transmission options. The Skoda Slavia can be specced with a 1.0-litre turbo-petrol or a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine. In this review though, we are concentrating only on the bigger, more powerful engine.
It is a four-cylinder, 1.5-litre unit that produces 148bhp at 5,000rpm and 250Nm at just 1,500rpm. This engine can be specced with either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG. This engine promised explosive performance from the very start and we were eager to check it out.
Thumb the starter button and you barely get to hear the engine as it is very quiet. However, youcan't afford to be fooled by the smooth engine as the performance is actually explosive. The 1.5-litre engine in the Slavia puts out roughly as much power as the first-gen Skoda Octavia vRS. Now that is saying something.
We were driving the sedan equipped with the 7-speed DSG. Using the DSG is easy and we got out onto open road in no time at all. The engine has its power spread out even throughout the powerband which means, there is enough and more grunt at the bottom-end, mid-range and even at the very top.
When you get to the top-end of the power band, the engine does become a little noisy and you start wishing for a throatier exhaust note to offset the engine noise. The engine is easy-going even in urban areas and stop-and-go traffic. However, the same can't be said for the DSG transmission.
The DSG is more than happy to be out on the open road and the twisties, shifting gears really quick. We wouldn't hesitate in saying that the 7-speed DSG is an absolute treat to drive and is a perfect match with this 1.5-litre engine.
Gear changes are quick and smooth even in drive mode. This turns into aggression in the sport mode, and we're not complaining. It is fun-to-drive. Then comes the manual mode where the gears shift almost as if it were a manual gearbox. This, combined with the brilliant feel on the paddle shifters makes for a driving experience any enthusiast will love.
Speaking of manual mode, we did get to experience the sedan equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox as well. This gearbox takes things up a notch. The throws are short and precise and it falls into place with a satisfying feel. It certainly is an enthusiast's delight. The clutch is also light and effortless to operate.
These engine and gearbox cominations got us thinking that Skoda should have called the 1.5 as the Slavia vRS instead. However, a quick look at the suspension, steering response, and handling revealed why Skoda didn't do that.
The suspension on the Skoda Slavia is slightly on the stiffer side. At moderate speeds, the sedan glides over potholes, and corners are handled with grace. There is a reasonable amount of body roll, which isn't really something to complain about. However, passengers at the rear do feel a slightly excessive body roll compared to those up front.
The steering wheel offers a typical Skoda feel. It is light at lower speeds allowing for easier maneuvering in urban areas, but nicely weighs up as the speed builds, thereby instilling confidence in the driver.
When it comes to braking, the Skoda Slavia has got just enough, nothing more and nothing less. The initial bite is perfect and progression of braking power is decent. Disc brakes at the rear instead of drum brakes would have made things much better in the braking department.
NVH levels are very well under control and at no point does one feel the noise could have been lesser. The larger displacement in the 1.5-litre engine makes picking up speed an easy task and the engine at no point feels stressed.
Speaking of displacement, it is impossible to not talk about the ACT (Active Cylinder Technology. With this turned on, the Skoda Slavia shuts down two of its cylinders whenever firing on all four is not needed. This is extremely useful technology and makes the sedan a lot more efficient than it should ideally be.
On the whole, the Skoda Slavia 1.5 is a sedan that gets your heart racing. Both gearbox options are brilliant and at the end of the day, it comes down to just your individual preference.
Safety & Key Features
Skoda's cars are always known to have the best safety equipment. It is not just the brilliant build quality that is generally seen on Skoda cars but the cars are also equipped with active and passive safety features. With the Slavia too, Skoda hasn't skimped on safety features.
Skoda Slavia 1.5 Safety Features:
- Six Airbags
- ABS with EBD
- Multi-Collision Brake
- Park Distance Control
- Electronic Differential Locking System
- Traction Control
- Electronic Stability Program
- Hill Start Assist & Hill Hold Control
- Electronic Differential with Anti-Slip Regulation & Motor Slip Regulation
- Rollover Protection
- ISOFIX Seats
With so many safety features, the Skoda Slavia gives some cars from higher segments too a run for their money.
Skoda Slavia 1.5 Key Features:
- Crystalline LED Lighting
- Steering-Mounted Controls
- Ventilated Front Seats
- Ambient Lighting
- 10-inch Touchscreen Infotainment
- Skoda 8-Speaker Audio System
- Cruise Control
- Keyless Entry & Go
- 9-inch Full Colour Virtual Cockpit
- Type-C Charging Ports
Variants & Colours
The Skoda Slavia is available in three variants and can be had in five different colours
Skoda Slavia Variants:
Skoda Slavia Colour Options:
- Tornado Red
- Candy White
- Carbon Steel
- Reflex Silver
- Crystal Blue
The Carbon Steel colour looks elegant and classy while Tornado Red looks really attractive. However, the Crystal Blue shade is surely the colour to have. It looks beautiful. In-fact, it is a colour that is exclusive to the Skoda Slavia.
In many aspects, the Skoda Slavia feels like the spiritual successor to the first-gen Skoda Octavia. The first-gen Octavia was the car that made Skoda what it is today in the Indian market. Well, the Slavia certainly has the potential to do the same.
While most manufacturers peg SUVs at the very top of their priorities, Skoda seems to be sticking to its roots and has brought us yet another beautiful sedan. The Skoda Slavia is very attractive to behold and feels properly premium too. This one is worth your money.