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2022 Skoda Slavia Prototype Drive: Classy Customer!


Driving Skoda’s pre-production prototype gives us a taste of their new Rapid replacement

In a post SUV world golden nameplates like the Honda City and Hyundai Verna are struggling to keep their chin up in the midsize sedan segment. Launching a new sedan in this gloomy environment, from a sedan’s perspective, might be unwise, at the very least. 

Not if you are Skoda, though. With the backing of a family of desirable sedans like the Octavia and Superb to announce your arrival, the new Slavia is looking to bring excitement and desirability to the segment. But how does it plan to do so? Although still under thick, thorough and camo wrap, Skoda peeled back some of the secrecy surrounding the Slavia to give us a taste of what to expect. 

First Glance

The spirit of the original Octavia peeps out at you from this Skoda too. Its silhouette, especially the way the C pillar flows into the boot, reminds us of the Czech legend. However, we’d remind you (and ourselves) to temper expectations: after all there’s still a thick layer of green-orange camouflage that we cant see through. But it can be expected that the Slavia is going to carry forward the family look and will have a scaled down Octavia feel about it. So it will certainly feel premium. But there are many cost cutting aspects that the eagle-eyed readers amongst you would spot; because of an embargo at the time of publishing we can’t talk about it. Psst, did you spot the drum brakes for the rear wheels and the 16” alloy wheels?

Mini Octavia

Based on the many test mules that we spotted around Pune it was easy to see that the Slavia would be bigger than the Rapid, much bigger. So much so that we started calling it the mini-Octavia. But it isn’t a mini-Octavia! It’s bigger! Compared to the first gen Octavia, the Slavia is bigger in every dimension and much bigger than the Rapid. 

Dimensions: Slavia vs Family

 

Slavia

Gen1 Octavia

Rapid

Length

4541

4511

4413

Width

1752

1731

1699

Height

1487

1429

1496

Wheelbase

2651

2600

2552

in mm

Impressive? Absolutely! But in the twenty years since the first Octavia, the mid-size sedans have grown too. So when you compare the Slavia to the City you realise that they run neck and neck, with the Honda having an edge in terms of length and height. However, it’s the Skoda that’s wider and sports a longer wheelbase, which further suggests that this sedan should treat occupants well.

Dimensions: Slavia vs Rivals

 

Slavia

City

Verna

Length

4541

4549

4413

Width

1752

1748

1699

Height

1487

1489

1496

Wheelbase

2651

2600

2552

in mm 

The Slavia also promises the practicality expected of a Skoda, so while actually luggage space hasn't been shared yet, a visual inspection showed the boot to be large, possibly class-leading. However, the Slavia doesn’t get the signature liftback tailgate, instead opting for the more conventional and cheaper boot seen on other sedans. 

Insider info

We spent a lot of time in the Slavia, driving it on public roads; however, the embargo restricts us from sharing our impressions about the cabin, which despite being covered gave a fair impression of what can be expected from the Slavia and just how much it shares with its platform sibling, the Kushaq

Skoda says that Slavia uses 67% high-strength steel, laser welding for the roof and tailgate and is tested for more stringent crash test norms than are mandated. Skoda will offer the Slavia with six airbags right from launch too. Lessons learnt from the Kushaq have prompted Skoda to offer a digital instrument cluster too.

Wheeling Around

The information about the engine might sound familiar, as the Slavia shares its engines and gearboxes with the Kushaq. The made-in-India three-cylinder 1-litre TSI engine forms the sensible quotient with the six-speed manual transmission or the six-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. The four-cylinder 1.5 litre TSI is the creamier option and is likely to command the premium too as it is imported, as is the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that comes combined with it. It will also be offered with the six-speed manual as on the Kushaq. 

GFX 1.0 TSI Power 

 

Slavia 1.0 TSI

Kushaq 1.0 TSI

City 1.5 i-VTEC

Verna 1.0T

Power

115PS

115PS

121PS

115PS

Torque

NA

178Nm

145Nm

172Nm

Skoda confirmed that some changes have been made to the state of tune as the gearbox ratios are different from the Kushaq, though the power figures remain unchanged.

The combination of the torquey one-litre engine and the ultra-smooth six-speed auto gearbox makes a lot of sense for city use. The engine displays quick reflexes while being surprisingly quiet and the fast gearbox makes it very enjoyable. On highways you do wish there was a bit more punch, however the manual gearbox makes things a bit more prompt. 

 

Slavia 1.5 TSI

Kushaq 1.5 TSI

City 1.5 i-VTEC

Power

150PS

150PS

121PS

Torque

NA

250Nm

145Nm

The 1.5 TSI in any environment, city or highway, doesn't feel lacking in refinement or  responsiveness. The seven-speed DSG gearbox is smooth and prompt and Skoda has confirmed that mechanical and software updates to the gearbox have improved longevity and reliability. Maybe that is why, despite the extra 35PS you won't accuse the 1.5L+DSG combination of being exciting. The manual gearbox on the other hand can make you smile. 

The Slavia’s overarching focus is surely on comfort, and for this the suspension has been tuned beautifully. It gobbles up broken patches even better than the Kushaq, thanks to the lower centre of gravity. Interestingly, the test Slavia was wearing 16” rims, which will help cushion occupants further. Drivers are likely to enjoy the Slavia too as we found it well mannered at speed, handling hard braking and quick lane changes with composure. Some jitteriness from the rear suspension was experienced, but Skoda engineers said that the final suspension tune is still in progress and will be ironed out before its launch. 

Drop it!

The Slavia's camouflage will disappear on the 18th of November, with the launch slated for early 2022. While all the details will help us peg where the Slavia fits into the world of sedans and SUVs, it is clear that it has the potential to bring attention to this classy bodystyle once more. If prices, as expected, undercut the Kushaq slightly, this Skoda’s entrance will be grander still. 

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