Sold my Maruti Ciaz for Skoda Slavia 1.0L manual: Overall experience

I want to call it a mini Audi but that would be an insult to what is a bespoke and robustly engineered product in its own right.

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My Ciaz was still newish and I had no intention of buying the Slavia but since I was an old Skoda customer I took a couple of test drives. After the second drive, I felt the compelling need to get one! So the Ciaz went out and in came the Slavia 1.0 active manual. The purchase experience was smooth and I took delivery in the 3rd week of March 2022.

The overall comfort is what stands out. The package of the seats, the ride and the low NVH levels (at lower rpms) result in almost zero driver and passenger fatigue even after an 800-900km drive on a single day. The same trip in the family Innova leaves me disabled for a few days. I have had longer trips in larger European sedans and even they leave you with aches and pains.

The seats are soft, large and reasonably supportive. If you are big and tall like me they are a godsend. I have had back problems for the last couple of years and the Slavia does a better job than the Ciaz at keeping me pain-free. Flat and mature are the best words to describe the ride. Large bumps at very slow speeds do filter in but even then it is not uncomfortable. Most bad roads do not even register a presence in the cabin. The stiff shell and the flat ride prevent the usual undulations from transferring into your body.

The Slavia has the ride of a car two or three segments above. How VAG managed this without any magnetic damping or other wizardry is beyond me. My backseat passengers too have found the ride to be comfortable and not very tiring.

The ground clearance is exceptional. There are no scrapes or hits even in places where the Innova manages to ground. The biggest speed breakers do not cause any difficulty with even a full load of passengers and luggage. Anyone can manage a Ladhak trip or two safely. The under-chassis protection is reasonable and most monsoon-affected roads are also dealt with easily.

The handling is a miracle when you consider the ride and the ground clearance at play. The car stays quite flat through most corners and the steering is certainly more alive than the unit in the Ciaz. It does not compare to the old fiesta but is acceptable for what it does. Where it does lack is at lower speed through tighter corners-the understeer becomes extremely pronounced and you need to keep yourself from getting caught off guard.

The halogen Skoda crystal vision units are a million times better than what was there on the Rapid. Night driving is stress-free and I have no intention of ever buying any LED bulbs. The LED DRLs give good visibility to oncoming traffic in poor weather.

The gearbox does not hold a candle to the gem that was there in the Ciaz but is OK. The sixth gear could have been taller as the engine note gets a little high at faster highway speeds.

The 1.0 TSI engine lets you down only very low down in the rev range and transforms as revs and speeds build up. I have never felt any shortcomings and have no regrets about not buying the 1.5L. Most highway traffic can be left behind whenever you feel the need to do so.

The brakes lack ultimate bite but are acceptable and safe. The ABS is more on the limit than it was on the Ciaz but this is a good thing. The only issue I faced was having to get the pads and rotors replaced early on due to a grinding noise that never went away. The dealer did this free of cost. The stock CEATs were traded in for Continentals of the same profile. Works like a dream. This is an upgrade most people should consider. The CEATs are reasonable but the change to the Continentals immediately improved both ride and handling. The Continentals do have a tendency to pick up stones in the thread and this contributes to the wobbling issue I describe later.

I have, touch wood, not experienced any of the problems mentioned in these threads. The active variant has the manual ac which works a treat in any conditions. There is a wobbling issue which has never gone away. It comes and goes at certain speeds and very specific stretches of road. The narrow range of the problem has meant that it does not bother me much. I drove another active Slavia and it had the same issue. It might be related to the steel wheels/hub interface.

The brake rotors and pads were replaced early on for noise issues but the problem has not cropped up again. Using the disc wiping (windscreen washer in dry conditions triggers it) seems to help. This 1.0 motor consumes oil and the manual tells you so. A small top up after 10k km is needed. Keep your eye on the dipstick every week or so. A small can of 0W20 oil in the boot is always helpful.

The service from the local dealers here in BLR has been exceptional and is on par with any Maruti outfit. The spares seem affordable. For example, a side mirror costs 1/5th of the one on the Innova. The 4 years service package does not cover wheel alignment and this is a small irritant.

There was an impact with a stray dog (which happily walked off). The damage was covered by insurance and the dealer made the entire process very smooth. There were three campaigns performed in the last few months including rerouting of wiring in the wiper panel, a.c software update and refitting of a cowl panel. My Slavia has not had any major squeaks or rattles. It feels as well-built as my old Rapid.

The fuel consumption varies a lot with your driving style. Normal highway speeds give an average of 16.5km to the liter on Shell regular petrol. Any faster and it drops like a brick. The auto switch off feature conspires (it can be a pain) to give a mileage of around 13 in heavy city traffic but here too a light foot helps.

Other negatives

The suspension crashes nosily into potholes at higher speeds but unlike in the Rapid there is no damage that occurs. The higher ground clearance translates into some swaying at higher speeds in extreme crosswinds but is a non-issue under most conditions. Till my last check, the local emission centers did not perform emission checks on the Slavia since it was not listed in the software. I hopped across the border to AP where the nearest testing center gladly did the needful.

Overall conclusion

The Slavia is exceptional value for money. It gives levels of comfort that are only found in cars costing the north side of 50 lakhs. Skoda has listened to its customers and the negatives of the Rapid are mostly gone. I want to call it a mini Audi but that would be an insult to what is a bespoke and robustly engineered product in its own right. I have some choice words for those joining the boring SUV brigade but heck…. to each his own. I will keep adding to this thread whenever I can.

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