Czech automaker Skoda on Monday forayed into the midsize SUV segment in India with the launch of its new offering Kushaq, priced between Rs 10.5 lakh and Rs 17.6 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The model, which is the company's first product designed and developed under the INDIA 2.0 project and based on the MQB A0 IN platform, comes with two petrol engines with power output ranging between 85 kW (115 PS) and 110 kW (150 PS).
The BSVI compliant engine comes mated with a six-speed manual gearbox, a six-speed automatic and a seven-speed DSG transmission.
The 1-litre petrol trims with manual transmission are priced between Rs 10.5 lakh and Rs 14.6 lakh while the automatic variants are priced at Rs 14.2 lakh and Rs 15.8 lakh respectively. The 1.5 litre manual trim is priced at Rs 16.2 lakh while the automatic (DSG) is tagged at Rs 17.6 lakh (all prices ex-showroom).
Skoda, however, did not share the fuel efficiency details of the models.
The Kushaq comes with various active and passive safety features including hill-hold control and a tyre-pressure monitor system, up to six airbags among others. The model also comes with a choice of two infotainment systems, each of which enables smartphone integration via SmartLink technology.
The SUV is 4,221 mm long, 1,760 mm wide and has a height of 1,612 mm. Its long wheelbase of 2,651 mm – which is among the longest in the segment – and a ground clearance of 188 mm.
The Kushaq is based on the MQB-A0-IN, a variant of the modular MQB platform specially adapted by Skoda for the Indian market. To achieve the desired localisation level of 95 per cent, the automaker has set up a new MQB production line at its Pune plant.
The SUV would compete with the likes of Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos in the high selling mid-sized SUV segment. Both the Creta and Seltos come with petrol and diesel engines, while Kushaq is available with only petrol powertrain options.
"The launch of Kushaq is a watershed moment for the company as we enter one of the most exciting segments in this dynamic automotive market," Skoda Auto India Brand Director Zac Hollis said in a statement.
The model is made keeping in mind what really matters to the customers and is localised and tailored to suit the Indian market, he added.
The Kushaq comes with globally renowned TSI technology (engine) across the range, empowering an optimum combination of performance, efficiency, refinement and output, Hollis said.
"With a world-class SUV that is ready for India, we are looking at taking the Skoda brand to new and emerging markets across the country, he noted.
India has seen a robust increase in SUV sales over the last few years. In 2015, the SUV segment contributed only 13.5 per cent to the overall passenger vehicle sales. This number became about 26 per cent in 2019 and further rose to 29 per cent in 2020.
With the Kushaq launch, Skoda plans to penetrate deeper into the country by expanding its network to Tier II and III cities. Skoda Auto India currently has 120 sales touchpoints in 85 cities and plans to expand to 150 touchpoints by the end of 2021.
Under the India 2.0 Project, German automotive group Volkswagen had announced in 2018 that it would invest 1 billion euro between 2019 and 2021 as part of its strategy to enhance its presence in India which will be led by group firm Skoda Auto.
Skoda Auto has been responsible for pressing ahead with the India 2.0 project on behalf of Volkswagen Group since June 2018 and has also been orchestrating the activities of the Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Lamborghini brands in India.
Under the project, Skoda was envisaged to set up an engineering design and development centre at Pune besides enhancing capacities at the group's two plants at Aurangabad and Pune.
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