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    Skoda Kushaq, Slavia, and Kodiaq Drive Experience at Natrax

    Authors Image

    Aditya Nadkarni

    21,065 Views

    Introduction

    Left Front Three Quarter

    Skoda Auto India introduced the Kushaq mid-size SUV, followed by the Slavia sedan, along with refreshed iterations of the Octavia, Superb, and Kodiaq as a part of its India 2.0 plans. The all-new models, which are based on the MQB-A0-IN platform, scored a five-star rating in the Global NCAP crash test in the last one year, and to showcase its safety prowess, the folks at the Czech-based brand invited us over to Natrax in Indore, which happens to host not just India’s but Asia’s longest high-speed test track. So what all did Skoda have ready on its platter for us to sample? Read on to find out.

    Front View

    We were welcomed at the Natrax facility in Indore, MP, by a bodyshell of the Kushaq with a cut out of five stars, reminding us of the solid and safe build quality of the model. Before getting our hands on the cars, we were given a short brief about the tracks, cars, and then some more that we were scheduled to devour later in the day. The agenda for the day consisted of three elements: Trying our hands on the handling track, a high-speed test track, and an off-road experience.

    The handling track with the Slavia and Kushaq

    Dashboard

    The Octavia and Superb stationed at the premises were our rides to the various tracks for the day, with the first one being the handling track. Waiting for us to test their potential were the Slavia as well as the Kushaq, but first, we needed a lap to get us acquainted with the track, while also having an instructor in tow as there is only a small margin for error. Right then, off we go with the Kushaq Monte Carlo to carve corners. Why an SUV though on a handling track, one must be thinking.

    Dashboard

    The Kushaq, though positioned as an SUV, held its own as I pushed the car slightly above the required pace, getting used to the track and its turns. Lap 2 meant I could go all out with the car, but the instructor could overrule this if he sensed that it was being pushed above a specific limit. I was amazed by the way the Kushaq handled the twists and turns, and this completely changed my views on how a car should handle, more so on the track. The 1.5-litre TSI motor paired with the quick and smooth seven-speed DSG unit was certainly audible in the cabin in sport mode, but hey, I certainly wasn’t complaining. Being a self-admitted rookie, I didn’t push the Kushaq so much as to entail the tyres screeching, yet managed to maintain apt speeds in order to enjoy the track and the vehicle as well as understand its handling prowess.

    Dashboard

    Next up was a lap with the Skoda Slavia, and this time, we would go only for a single lap, having gotten an idea of what the track is all about. A quick start and a few turns later, it was evident that the difference between the handling of the Slavia and the Kushaq (or sedan vs SUV, for that matter) was certainly much more than I expected. The Slavia was much tighter around the turns, masking all its weight as I pushed the car around corners and at small straight patches that I got to taste. The overall body roll had also come down to a considerable extent when compared to the Kushaq, so much so that it awakened the desire to get back a low-slung sedan after driving an urban SUV back home for the last few years.

    The way the engine and gearbox are tuned, it feels seamless and smooth, like they were made for each other. Off from a standstill, I could hear the now mandatory beeps (for speed alerts) every few seconds to the occasional beeps that went on continuously every now and then, subconsciously reminding me of the speeds we were doing while attacking corners. With the handling track laps done, we headed to our next activity even as the weather gods continued to play shuffle with the temperature and skies.

    The high-speed track with the Slavia and Kodiaq

    Entering the pit lane of the high-speed test track meant we were welcomed by a set of Slavias and Kodiaqs that would be our rides here for the day. We got half a lap of the 11.3km track in each of the cars, switching with another driver at half the distance of the entire track length.

    Dashboard

    Unlike most cases where we’re told to increase the speed at a certain pace, here we were asked to go all out the minute we were out of the pits. Pedal to the metal and we’re in triple digits speeds in no time. The Slavia gains speed at a rapid (no pun intended) pace and the first turn at the track is already in sight. Like a typical layman on the road and bound by habit, I slowly reduce my throttle input until I’m asked by the instructor to continue with the same speed. This being my first time at such high speeds, it was a little unnerving to begin with, but I quickly got a hang of it and I could finally see 200+ on the speedo. Even as the feeling was just sinking in, we were told to slow down to the side and switch cars.

    Front View

    Getting into the Kodiaq and pushing it to the limit would’ve been a different experience I thought, especially after noting the difference between SUVs and sedans at the handling track. I was proved wrong yet again, as the Kodiaq stayed firm to the ground even as we maxed the car out to a mind-numbing 215kmph.

    Right Front Three Quarter

    Having been used to barely touching triple-digit speeds on public roads, this feeling of going so fast, yet being so calm, on such a smooth tarmac, is an experience I would say is best felt by one rather than hearing or reading from another’s experience.

    The off-road experience with the Skoda Kodiaq

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    Even as the sun had begun its descent for the day, we were taking the Kodiaq on a trail experience on the specially curated track. We started with the basic sausage obstacle that involved taking the SUV through a huge speed breaker of sorts at a particular slanting angle to avoid scraping the belly, followed by the next obstacle which had angular banks on each side, which we slowly maneuvered through.

    Dashboard

    The infotainment screen, meanwhile, showcased the angle at which the SUV was crossing these obstacles. A steep descent allowed the car to showcase its hill hold control function. To enable this function, one is required to slowly take the car into the descent and then release the brake, thus allowing the car to take full control and maneuver out safely.

    Right Front Three Quarter

    The last obstacle saw the Kodiaq getting into a deep pit and making its way out, thus showcasing its approach and departure angles, proving its mettle as a soft-roader.

    Images by Kaustubh Gandhi

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