The Kushaq is the first localised compact SUV from Skoda. The Yeti and the Karoq being the other two. The Skoda Kushaq has a lot riding on its shoulders for the Skoda brand. It represents the new approach of the company and endorses Skoda’s commitment to India. I drove the 1.5-litre Automatic variant, in city conditions and was impressed with its dynamics.
The Skoda Kushaq has sharp looks, typical of a Skoda. Clean lines, minimal drama and a crispy appearance. This SUV, though competes head on with the Creta and Seltos, it doesn’t look as big as the Road presence is not its forte. However, It looks premium from the outside. The doors have the ‘thud’ of a Skoda, though I would like a bit more of it. Overall, the looks are neat and is sure to please many evolved buyers.
The interior is where is a mixed bag. The layout is typically of a Skoda, which looks classy, however, the quality and touch, feel could’ve been better. I quite liked the steering wheel, which is chunky to hold and a joy to use. The controls also are easy to use, with rollers on either side.The instrument cluster is old-school with analogue dials. The MID screen in the centre in monochrome, showing essential details.The new 10-inch touchscreen is inspired by the MIB-3 unit from the more expensive Skoda vehicles. The touch response of the screen is good and the interface is friendly. There is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay along with navigation. There are only USB-C type charging ports and no standard USB-A offered. Wireless charging for mobile phones is also offered.
The seats are quite comfortable. Front seats get ventilation, a welcome feature. Space at the rear is more than adequate, though not class leading. There is ample of legroom.The boot space is 385 litres, smaller than what the competition offers. However, there is deep cargo space and 60:40 split-folding seats as well.
The Skoda Kushaq is underpinned by the MQB platform called the MQB-A0 IN. The SUV is offered with two engine options, which is the 1.0-litre TSI that does duty in the Rapid as well. It a slo comes with a more powerful 1.5-litre TSI Evo The 1.0-litre three-cylinder puts out 113bhp and 178Nm, while the one I drove is a four-cylinder with 148bhp and a fantastic 250Nm of torque. Transmission options includes a six-speed manual with both engines, a six-speed automatic in the 1.0-litre version and a DSG dual-clutch automatic in the 1.5-litre one.
Now, this is a very refined and smooth motor. The power deliver is good and you have ample power at lower revs. There is hardly any need to push it to the redline or higher revs, this helps in city driving conditions. The DSG gearbox assists in getting quicker shifts.
The Kushaq is vibration free however its not a very racy vehicle. It has been designed for regular usage and commuting and does the job well. This engine comes with ‘Active Cylinder Technology (ACT)’, which deactivates two cylinders under lesser load conditions, thereby improving its fuel efficiency. This cylinder activation and deactivation happens quite smoothly and you cannot make it out.
In short, the engine is nice to cruise and pretty quick too. What I liked in particular is the steering geometry. It feels so good to manoeuvre this SUV, giving you a sedan like feel. This is something where it betters its rivals by a big margin. The brakes are excellent too, despite disc brakes offered only at the front.
The ride of the Kushaq is pliant like other Skoda cars, but a slight stiffness is noticeable. However, it absorbs the road unevenness and also the bumps and potholes quite well. At highway speeds, the ride hardly has any vertical movement and keeps you comfortable.
The Skoda Kushaq is fresh and offers something that rivals in this segment do not match up to. These are driving dynamics. The Kushaq excels in this department and makes up for the lack of features as compared to some of its rivals like the Creta, Seltos and Astor. If you’re looking for a driving friendly SUV at around 14-18 lakhs, the Skoda Kushaq 1.5 should be on your list.