Skoda Slavia long term review; 17,000km report


This is a car I would buy. The same spec, the same trim and I even like the colour. In fact, up the budget considerably, go well past the price of this car, and this is still the one I would buy; manual gearbox and all. Here’s why:

Where do I begin? How about with some fundamentals, specifically the tough build of the chassis. A year has gone by, but as expected, the Slavia feels as tight as a drum. This isn’t something that comes as a surprise. At all. One drive in the car and you know it has the build to take the abuse our roads throw at it and come out smelling of roses. There are some dodgy plastic bits though. There is an uncharacteristic rattle that comes from behind the touchscreen on occasion, and some of the slats in the vents are out of alignment, but that apart, this car still feels new. To know just how solid it is, just open and close a door and listen to that thud of a door shut. 

Deft, light, precise and accurate, but also with loads of feel.

Another thing I enjoyed every single day was this car’s absorbent but flat ride. It has the ability to both smoothen the worst of our roads and prevent the car from pitching or bobbing too much, albeit with a hint of stiffness at low speed. The Slavia’s 179mm of ground clearance, in fact, often had me driving confidently over dirt roads and unpaved country lanes.  

At its core, however, it’s all about how those fundamentals stack up when it comes to driving pleasure. No, this engine isn’t the most free-revving TSI unit around (probably because it runs a more efficient Miller Cycle), and there is some turbo lag below 1,800rpm. But cross that threshold and it pulls in a strong and clean manner all the way past 6,500rpm, the raw thrust of 150hp really making its presence felt in the mid- and top-end. And it’s this wide, smooth powerband that you enjoy the most. I certainly did, every single time I had the opportunity to. To waste, remember, is a sin. 

Plastic behind touchscreen has worked itself loose.

Even better, the absolutely delicious manual gearbox. Perfectly weighted, slick, and precise, the sensation of shifting gears even kept me entertained when ambling along. Even banging through a quick shift never caused it to baulk. 

Playing almost the perfect supporting role to the engine and gearbox is the suspension. The Slavia may not attack corners like a hot hatch, but it is poised, grippy and well balanced, so you can derive a pleasure from driving it hard. And that’s despite the tall suspension and some body roll.

What I also thoroughly enjoyed was the subwoofer. Placed inside the spare tyre, the sub delivers a strong and clean thump, often getting me to increase the volume. And it isn’t just the bass; the mids and highs are also super clean and clear, and they worked just as well for phone calls. I never had to strain to hear or speak loud to be heard, and that’s not something I can say about most of its rivals. 

Sharply styled tail hides a massive 521-litre boot.

Also much appreciated were the larger-than-normal sunroof, the supportive ventilated front seats, the space and comfort on the rear bench and that massive 521-litre boot that can take at least four large bags. With its cylinder deactivation (it can run using only two cylinders when not under load) and the stop/start chipping in, the Slavia 1.5 often delivered upwards of 10.5kpl. If there’s a good enough gap, I’d put my foot down, and in doing so, fuel economy would drop to around 7.5kpl. But on the flipside, long highway drives even got it to deliver upwards of 17kpl, the tall gearing in 6th surely helping here.

Faults? The driver’s window dropped instead of rising from halfway at times (this was fixed), and the boot lid had a tendency to hit your head if you didn’t push it open all the way. Then there are some of the obtuse design choices in the digital instrument cluster, and it feels there’s a ghost in the HVAC system (your hand keeps knocking against the air-con controls, inadvertently changing  the settings), but these are hardly deal breakers. 

With 179mm of clearance, the Slavia is practically an off-roader.

The strange thing is I miss the car so much, I’ve asked Skoda for another one. And just to be different, this time it’s an automatic. I’ll tell you about that soon; stay tuned.

Also see: 

Skoda Slavia long term review, 14,500km report

Skoda Slavia long term review, 12,000km report

Skoda Slavia long term review, 9400km report

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