A massive upgrade from my 1st gen Figo. The abundance of power, lack of vibration, absence of the gruff engine noise, the space in the cabin and the smart looking interiors all felt so strange and awesome at the same time.
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Slavia is home early:
The customary call-out: long post alert. I have started laying the groundwork for a detailed ownership thread, but before that, I wanted to share my booking, delivery, and usage journey so far.
It has been a little over a week and around 600 kilometers since I took delivery of my Slavia, and on every day, several times, without fail, I go near and gaze at the sharp lines and the beautiful curves for entirely too much time (According to my family, that is).
Compared to other folks, I think my booking to delivery time was extremely fast, but even then, it felt like a long-drawn-out drama with enough twists to qualify as an M. Night Shyamalan script.
This chapter started off as a 1L manual Ambition trim booking from Malayalam Skoda, Trivandrum, on May 1st. I had a test drive the week earlier, and the Sales Advisor (SA) was following up every couple of days. I wanted to try the 1.5, but it was not available at that time. They gave the tentative timeline as end of May when they will get one for test drives. Anyhow I went to the showroom and paid the booking amount of 25000 rupees and booked Ambition model with a promise that they will call me before confirming the model to the factory. The last part was explicitly mentioned because I had some confusion on the variant I wanted, and if I felt the need to upgrade my variant of choice, I can do it at that time.
Then came the first twist: the SA called me 2 days later and said they have the vehicle ready to be shipped from the factory and asked if I was ready to take delivery on the next week.
I was completely caught off guard, and after multiple calls, which also included talking to their team lead/manager, I rejected that vehicle, and the booking was changed to 1.5 manual. At that time, I was informed that the waiting period will be 4 months for the 1.5 manual, and I resigned myself to wait. This meant I would have ample time to set all my financials in order.
But as fate would have it, I got a surprise call from my friend (who also had a 1.5 manual booking) on 21st May that a 1.5 manual is available with Kochi dealers. I was really conflicted over this since I did not get enough time to arrange my financials or had a chance to sell my existing car, and I was debating furiously in my mind what to do next.
All my reservations were laid to rest when I heard a couple of news during my visit to the VW showroom, where I went to check out the Virtus:
- First news: Malayalam Skoda in Trivandrum are shutting down within few months (possibly getting replaced by EVM Skoda).
- Second news: Price hike on ex-showroom, insurance, and road tax, and to top it all – several features getting removed from the Style variant.
After a lot of discussions with family, friends, and the SA my friend was dealing with, I ended up transferring a booking amount of 11000 rupees to EVM Skoda in Kochi on the very same day (Why is there a booking amount discrepancy between Trivandrum and Kochi dealers?).
The next few days passed like a whirlwind – I was in a daze trying to get all my stuff in order: arranging the down payment, finalizing the insurance, the loan, then selling the existing vehicle, oh my gosh, I was totally overwhelmed! I decided to get the financing and insurance done all via Skoda itself. After some comparisons, I settled on SBI for the loan and HDFC Ergo for the vehicle insurance.
I planned to travel to Kochi on that Saturday, get the PDI complete and then decide on next steps afterwards. This is where I really appreciate the EVM folks – the vehicle was in-transit at that time, but they did not push me to make any further down payment, they promptly shared the vehicle VIN details on the next day after I transferred the booking amount and were perfectly happy to wait till my PDI was complete before going ahead with the registration process. But then came another twist: the vehicle was going to Kozhikode dealership instead of Kochi, and I had to decide to either go to Kozhikode, or get it driven over to Kochi. Reluctantly, I agreed to let them drive the vehicle to Kochi, and then do my PDI from there.
Fast forward to Saturday the 30th of May, and finally…
PDI in progress:
192 km since it was driven down to Kochi from Kozhikode:
A tine mark here:
PDI went well for both my friend and me. The only issue I could spot was a mark below the fuel filler for my allotted car. But it was very tiny, and could not be felt, and I was confident that a polish would take care of it. His was Candy white model and looked very neat. Both the cars were lying out on the yard under the merciless glare of the afternoon sun, and I got to experience the stark difference between the 2 colour models. If the insides of the White one felt like a sauna, the Carbon Grey felt like a boiling furnace. We were glad to get out of the sun and on to the shades where we finalised the next steps. Since the price hike was imminent, all of us were eager to go ahead with the purchase and we both gave the confirmation to the SA. Also, since it was a Saturday, the loan transfer had to wait till Monday, and we decided to transfer the down payment also on Monday. This would have given us ample time to finish the formalities before the new month starts.
The next few days were agonising, having seen the car, but unable to take it. Come Monday, further tension was added when the loan amount was not credited till end of evening. Apparently, SBI had a server issue, and they could not transfer the loan amount to the dealers before that. I was worried that we were going to get the car based on the hiked amount, until I was reminded that May had 31 days and not 30.
Next day, the registration process was done from the dealer side, but I received the Form 20 only on June 1st. Those 2 days were even more agonising – we were wondering if more payment must be done if the registration falls over to the next month. Luckily, the entire registration was done with the original on-road amount, but the wait continued to get the plates printed and installed.
Then, on that week Saturday, the wait ended; and I got to see her, all clean, shiny, and ready to set the roads on fire.
Last round of checking before taking delivery:
Waiting to be unleashed:
First bellyfull of XP95 petrol:
Delivery went without any major hiccups. But I found that several wheel nuts were missing the plastic cover. My SA promised that he will courier them to me later:
I drove down to Trivandrum early next day and I was grinning from ear to ear the entire journey. Few observations from that journey and other short trips:
- A massive upgrade from my 1st gen Figo. The abundance of power, lack of vibration, absence of the gruff engine noise, the space in the cabin and the smart looking interiors all felt so strange and awesome at the same time.
- Even though I used to love the steering feedback that the Figo gave me, I am really enjoying the light yet sharp steering of the Slavia. Smooth and effortless during city speeds and stable and secure when I was in the highways doing about 80 or so. But the feel I used to get from Figo is missing. Strangely though, I am not missing it too much, because this was one of my main gripes during the test drive.
- Gearshifts are smoother than in my Figo but shifting from 2 to 3 and 3 to 2 is not that smooth. I also felt this in the 1L test drive vehicle. No problem for changing to other gears.
- I am so used to fiddling with the buttons and stalks, it felt nice when the auto wipers kicked in when the inevitable rains started, and when the auto lights came on and switched off for all the right scenarios.
- Zero fatigue felt after the journey. Even though the trip was only about 200 kms, I usually feel a bit uncomfortable because of the harsher ride and roughness in the Figo. But I was feeling fresh and ready for more at the end of the trip.
- As mentioned in the user manual, I never went above 3/4th of the max engine speed, but even going till 3000-3500 rpm felt thrilling, and the overtakes which I never even dreamt of doing in my Figo, were dismissed with grace and aplomb by the Slavia.
- At speed, all the road imperfections are ironed out, but large potholes are felt with a load thud inside the cabin. Really pained to hear that a couple of times when a sudden pothole appeared on smooth highway road.
- For me the brakes were excellent, and the car stopped on a dime whenever I wanted it to, but then again, I did not have to do any hard braking. However, my friend mentioned something concerning: During highway runs and braking for a speed bump from high speeds, the car will stop all right, but with a lot of drama. He said the steering went extremely light and the car swayed to the sides. Have any fellow owners experienced anything like this under hard braking?
- At the back, the passenger in the middle is always uncomfortable due to the contoured finish of the seats. It is best for 2 at the back.
- My risk appetite was not high enough to go for the DSG, even though I wanted to have an automatic for my next vehicle. Knowing all the horror stories associated with this gear box kept me away from that model. I have never felt that the manual gearbox is a liability unless I am stuck in traffic. Since that happens very rarely for me, I am completely satisfied with my choice for now.
- I believe I will be the only owner who got this unique and not-so-pleasant surprise along with the car – I have heard of tales about surgeons leaving forgotten cotton or other equipment inside their patients; I got a torch that was left behind, in the area where the windshield washer nozzles are mounted, under the bonnet. I hope this is the only miss done by the mechanic who checked my car.
Even though the car is an upgrade over all measures for me, there are some rough edges and surprising feature omissions when compared to its European cousins. The interiors, even though it looked nice and modern, lacks finish in some places. The creaky ambient light strip, the exposed hinges and budget grade coverings of the boot, the roof liner that flexes when pressed, all takes away the premium feel that is expected after spending so much money.
However, all these are forgotten when I am back behind the wheel and with open roads in front. This car feels built for touring and that is exactly what I plan to do.
Basking in the evening sun at Kovalam beach:
Chilling besides Vellayani Lake:
Immediate plans other than going on trips:
- Dashcam: I will take a stab at installing the 70mai A500s that I got but will certainly require some help for the hard wiring part.
- Detailing: Initially, I had a plan to get Graphene coating from Schimmer in Kochi straight after taking delivery, but then I had to travel to Trivandrum before that could happen. I am searching for a good place to get it done from here now, but Schimmer has been following up regularly with me, and offering competitive rates (haven’t discussed the exact amount yet). Maybe I will take a trip back to Kochi soon and get this done. I don’t know any detailers in Trivandrum.
Now, if you have stayed with me till this point, and if you are wondering where the amazing twists and suspense are that this guy promised, my apologies for overselling this experience. In my mind this had all the tension and unpredictability of any classic suspense thriller.
In the meantime, there have been several opinion polls created which felt targeted squarely at me and my current situation. The answers to those: “Yes, I went over budget for my car purchase,” and “I have never owned a VW/Skoda car and would buy their India 2.0 cars;” I went the full monty and got myself the Slavia 1.5, which was almost double my original budget, and now, one of the most polarising VW/Skoda India 2.0 cars.
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