Sunday Drive by Hormazd Sorabjee: Is the Slavia powering up the sedan market?

Skoda’s new Slavia, a plush, feature-laden drive is the most powerful in its class, and irons out bad roads with ease
The top-spec Slavia Style gets a 10-inch touch-screen, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a large cabin that gives it a big car feel
The top-spec Slavia Style gets a 10-inch touch-screen, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a large cabin that gives it a big car feel
Published on Nov 27, 2021 08:36 PM IST
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At a time when every automaker and his uncle is launching an SUV, it’s refreshing to see a sedan hitting the market. Say hello to the Skoda Slavia, which made its global debut in India last month, and will go on sale in February 2022. That Skoda has chosen India to launch its all-new mid-size sedan speaks volumes about the importance of the Indian market in the Czech company’s scheme of things. The Slavia will be one of the pillars for Skoda in India and will supplement the Kushaq SUV, the other key model with which Skoda hopes to win back lost market share.

The SUV killer?

Sedans have a loyal, albeit small, following and Skoda knows this swathe of buyers rather well. That’s because Skoda has a history of sedans, starting with the Octavia over 20 years ago and, at the other end of the spectrum, the Superb which has consistently been the best-selling car in the small but influential premium sedan class. And for the past 10 years, Skoda’s bread-and-butter model has been the Rapid. It is this mid-size sedan that Slavia has replaced to usher in a new era for Skoda.

The Slavia is tasked with not just putting Skoda back on the radar of prospective sedan buyers, but also rejuvenating the entire sedan market, which has lost huge ground to SUVs. Sedans have lost appeal because it’s a segment with only a handful of well-entrenched players led by the Honda City. With the Slavia, that could change.

The Slavia looks like a mini Octavia and smartly wears all the unmistakable Skoda design cues
The Slavia looks like a mini Octavia and smartly wears all the unmistakable Skoda design cues

It would be fair to say that the Slavia looks like a mini-Octavia and smartly wears all the unmistakable Skoda design cues. The prominent grille and sharply-cut body is typically Skoda, and at the rear as well, the Slavia’s design has a clear link to the larger Octavia and Superb with tail lights that have a similar crystal effect.

On the inside, the Skoda Slavia’s dashboard gets a four-layer design. It also carries Skoda’s new signature two-spoke steering wheel and the cabin is packed with quite a few features. At launch, the Skoda Slavia will be offered in three trims—Active, Ambition and Style. In terms of features, the top-spec Slavia Style gets a 10-inch infotainment touch-screen, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and connected car tech. Overall, the fit and finish is quite premium, but it’s not a step ahead of the competition, which has further moved the quality goalposts.

First in safety

Where the Slavia aces the competition is in the area of safety. The top Style variant is packed with a host of safety features like six airbags, electronic stability control, a tyre pressure monitor, multi-collision brake warning and ISOFIX child seat mounts.

Powering the Slavia are the same set of engines and gearboxes as those on the Kushaq. This, immediately, makes the Slavia the most powerful car in its class. The 1.5 TSI or direct injection turbocharged engine puts out a stonking 150hp, putting it head and shoulders above its rivals. The 1.5 TSI is available with a 6-speed manual and a 7-speed automatic, and the latter works really well, giving you more power than you know what to do with.

That’s not the case with the smaller 1.0 TSI engine option which must work harder, but it has enough performance for everyday use. The suspension is a bit on the soft side, but the upshot is a plush ride quality that irons out bad roads with utter ease.

With its strong engines, comfortable ride, large cabin and big car feel, the Slavia promises a lot. It’s clearly a massive step over the Rapid, but let’s hope the price isn’t when it goes on sale in three months.

The views expressed by the columnist are personal

From HT Brunch, October 31, 2021

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    Hormazd Sorabjee is one of the most senior and much loved auto journalists in India, and is the editor of Autocar India.

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