Ask any auto buff about the most important launch in India this year, and they will point you towards the Skoda Kushaq. There’s a good reason why they would do that. In fact, there are many reasons. The Kushaq, whose name has been derived from the Sanskrit word for King, is no ordinary automobile. It represents both, a first step and an important milestone for Skoda Auto India.
The story of the Kushaq began unfolding back in 2018, when the Volkswagen Group green-lighted the path-breaking, € 1 billion India 2.0 project and put Skoda Auto India in charge of leading it. What does the project seek to achieve? An array of affordable, well-engineered cars built by India for the world. The first of those cars is, of course, the Skoda Kushaq.
A NEW CHAPTER
The India 2.0 project, which saw Volkswagen Group in India consolidate its entities here into Skoda Auto Volkswagen India, revolves heavily around the MQB-A0-IN platform. Derived from the Volkswagen Group’s much-acclaimed MQB-A0 platform, which is widely recognised as the world’s best front-wheel-drive platform, the MQB-A0-IN, as the suffix suggests, has been customised for India and other emerging markets. Breakthroughs by Skoda Auto on various fronts have resulted in the Skoda Kushaq achieving localisation levels as high as 95 percent. A large part of this has been achieved due to the company’s efforts at helping Indian suppliers aim for, and achieve, world-class levels of quality.
FORM AND FUNCTION
We know looks are subjective, but there is no denying the Kushaq’s visual appeal. It is a blend of muscularity and harmony, and its attractiveness is a result of several factors coming together. These include the clear-cut LED headlights and tail-lights, the prominent bonnet, powerful wheel arches, and a confident stance. The Kushaq is a vehicle that will set several industry benchmarks on launch, and the first among those will concern the wheelbase, which is, at 2,651mm, the longest in its class. Space, as a result of that long wheelbase, is not the only thing you’ll find inside the Kushaq’s well-put-together cabin, which is studded with modern technologies and comfort features.
IN THE DRIVING SEAT
In January this year, Skoda Auto India invited journalists to have a go at the pre-production Kushaq at a ‘covered’ drive. The consensus that emerged was that this was a car that would redefine the SUV category in India. The Kushaq won, among others, a lot of praise for its ride and handling, but that’s not all. It has a perfectly weighted steering that is primed to make low-speed driving – and parking – a cinch.
PRIMED TO DELIVER
Clearly, the Kushaq seems set for glory, but Skoda Auto has not stopped at building a world-beating SUV. Over the last two years, it overhauled its sales and aftersales ecosystem. The company’s dealership network has been expanded, innovative customer service initiatives have been introduced, and there has been a renewed focus on customer centricity and digitisation. The company’s workshops and service centres are now as thoughtfully specced as its plush showrooms, and there has been a massive infusion of updated training and digital technology that makes things more convenient for the customer. In 2020, Skoda had 100 sales and 60 service outlets, which they will grow to 150 sales and 110 service outlets this year. Their aggressive network ramp up has been developed in line with their new product launches planned for India. Getting close to customers is one of Skoda’s strategies, that means no matter where you are, you’ll always have a Skoda Auto touch point close to you.