At the Skoda Kushaq premiere, an event which we covered live, you must have got to know the specs, engine as well as launch timeline of the vehicle. To recap, the Skoda Kushaq comes with two engine options – 1.0-litre TSI and 1.5-litre TSI. The latter is from the Evo family of engines and comes with ACT or Active Cylinder Technology. This deactivates two cylinders, thereby enhancing fuel economy while the vehicle is cruising or coasting. The 1.5-litre direct injection turbo petrol engine makes 150hp of power and 250Nm. During the round table meeting with the Skoda Auto India top bosses, Gurpratap Boparai and Zac Hollis, the question of why no diesel engines was raised. As you may be aware, the Volkswagen group only sells petrol vehicles in India. At the same time, a considerable 40 per cent sales of the Kushaq’s Korean competitors (Kia Seltos, Hyundai Creta) comes from diesels.
Skoda bosses said that
The 1.5 TSI fuel efficiency will be very close to what the diesel offers. It has the same amount of torque, 250Nm, as a diesel. The driving characteristics will be appreciated by one and all. Refinement of petrol cannot be matched by diesel and that's what we aim to offer. With the approaching BS6 CAFE II norms coming in a couple of years, diesel won't make sense anymore. It will just increase the price differential to unsustainable levels.
Now, while the official fuel economy numbers aren’t out yet, the top boffins are optimistic that it will match that of a diesel engine. Perhaps we can expect 21kmpl. The question then turns to the smaller 1.0-litre TSI. This engine is in use in a couple of Skoda-Volkswagen sedans and hatchbacks in India. It has been deemed a peppy performer and in fact Skoda India thinks that
1.0-litre TSI to be a bigger selling engine in the Kushaq. That engine has good power and ample torque. In the Rapid now, it has accounted to as many sales as we used to do before with the diesel and petrol engines combined.
We also checked if CNG can be an option for future Skoda and Volkswagen cars. Gurpratap said
CNG, we have looked at it. Factory fitment of CNG kits attract 43% taxation. We aren't happy with dealership fitment. The higher taxation doesn't allow us to operate as efficiently as we will like.
If you noticed the Skoda Kushaq, you will have observed that it doesn’t have discs at the rear. Skoda India says that the current stopping power is more than sufficient with the rear drums and a disc only adds to the weight and cost. Plus rear discs, it has been observed, tend to pick stones and dust more. An electronic parking brake would have also added to the cost. We need to find the right balance between price and features, quipped the bosses.
Speaking of cost, when the car rolls from the factory in end-May, it will have 92 per cent localisation. 95 per cent will be achieved only by the end of this year. Few sensors, as well as electronic components that are not produced in India form part of the five per cent which is not localised yet. Semi-conductors will form the second form of localisation and that will happen at a later date, as per industry standards.
While the entire topic of cost comes in, what about the infamous after-service. Will it be relatively cheaper to maintain the Kushaq? Skoda officials present at the launch were quite affirmative it will be. The Skoda Rapid, for example, has a longer service period and the cost of spares is 27 per cent lower as well. The cost of ownership of the Kushaq will be low as well and this should help sales. After all, localised means lower turnaround time as well as cost.
When the Skoda Vision IN concept was shown, it was noticed that there was a fancy illuminated grille. On being quizzed if it was always supposed to be just a concept ornament, Gurpratap confirmed it indeed was. The reason was it is quite distracting, and while the driver may not be distracted, other road users will be and this might lead to accidents.
Skoda believes that the Kushaq segment will grow by at least 18 per cent in the coming years. Segments grow when new products and manufacturers come in. Skoda aims to sell 30,000 cars this year. The Kushaq is expected to play a king’s share in these numbers. Many existing customers might trade-in a Rapid while new ones too are expected to drop in to showrooms to see the latest entrant in this highly competitive space. The Skoda Kushaq could also be exported because there are good prospects for the car abroad as well. Skoda officials jokingly said that Czech Republic citizens were miffed that the car isn’t already there. New markets and segments is something the Kushaq will allow Skoda to enter, confirmed the officials, though which regions wasn’t specified.
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