Cuttack: The day saw a lot of WhatsApp, phone and social media activity for me as soon as the prices of Skoda Kushaq were announced. There is a real buzz on social media with people drooling over the new European SUV.
Did you know the name ‘Kushaq’ means emperor or king in Sanskrit?
That’s not the only Indian connection of the new Skoda. The SUV is 95 per cent localised — a first for Volkswagen-owned Czech brand. This level of localisation means massive investment, commitment and expectations. It is clear that Skoda is betting big on the Kushaq to regain its past glory in India. But can it?
Sales-wise, Skoda has struggled in India despite being here for the last 20 years.
Why Skoda Kushaq May Succeed?
Price Is Competitive
Prices start at Rs 10.50 lakh ex-showroom, which is in sync with the competition, unlike imports that cost a bomb. The second variant, Ambient, hits the sweet spot with Rs 12.80 lakh price and this is expected to be the volume puller.
The turbo engines, especially the 115hp 1.0 litre TSI, are efficient (17.5 kmpl) and powerful enough to make people excited. The availability of DSG automatics will certainly help. Even the larger 150hp 1.5 TSI gets cylinder deactivation technology for better fuel efficiency.
Features, Features & More Features!
This is what we Indians love. Skoda has made sure not to miss out on goodies that are popular here — big touchscreen, sunroof, ventilated seats, and even an umbrella in the door pocket Rolls Royce-esque!
Skoda is seen as a premium brand in India. The Kushaq is definitely one of its value-for-money products. This, along with the perception of European build quality, is bound to make the SUV desirable. Also, it is a looker which is proved by the amount of buzz it has generated on social media.
Warranty & Service Packages
Skoda has had a bumpy past in India when it comes to service costs. This is where the 4-year maintenance packages and 6-year extended warranty will definitely help.
What May Not Work For Skoda?
Lack Of Diesel Engine
With petrol hovering around Rs 100 a litre in India, not having a BS6 diesel engine on offer can be problematic for Skoda, and something the competition (Tata Harrier, Kia Seltos, Hyundai Creta, MG Hector) can take advantage of. 60 per cent of Hyundai’s Creta sales come from its diesel variants. Diesel engines are usually more efficient than petrol ones, and with mid-size SUVs, the difference is somewhat noticeable, unlike small cars.
The mid-size SUV segment is hot with volume makers all around from the Koreans to MG and home-grown Tata.
Skoda has in the past suffered from a poor reputation of expensive service. There is a dedicated thread on one of India’s popular auto-forums about this. Surveys have revealed Skoda has had low resale values in the country. However, some report that the company has taken corrective measures and the 4-year service packages along with the long 6-year warranty can be reassuring. Also, the 95 per cent localisation is expected to lower costs of spare parts.
Insiders report that Skoda is hoping to sell 2,500 units a month. The company seems to have got it right this time. Seeing the buzz around the product, it is a safe bet to say the numbers can touch 5,000 units a month.
Also Read: 2020: The Death Of Sedans & Rise Of SUVs