Skoda’s baby RS joins our long-term fleet and quickly charms us with its stability, comfort and performance.
I haven’t done this in a long, long time. At least not since the early days of the pandemic. Then, early morning drives meant you had the roads all to yourself. Have to say early Sunday mornings are still pretty traffic free. I don’t quite feel like I’m the only car on the move in five square kilometres, like it did during the pandemic, but I still don’t need to slow down or manoeuvre around other traffic, which frankly is perfect.
Off to the baker’s; any ol’ excuse to drive is good.
I’m also pretty excited because despite having the Slavia 1.5 TSI for a couple of days, I haven’t really managed to give it a proper workout, use all that 150hp sitting dormant under the hood. As I set out onto some smaller city roads, the Slavia already has me impressed. It’s taking the majority of bumps better than many SUVs. Then the massive 179mm ground clearance means you can almost take the Slavia off road, and what also stands out, even at this early hour, is the solid feel and tank-like build. Absolutely love that. Being a manufacturer of tanks sure has impacted Skoda.
COMFORT PLUS: Absorbent ride helps Slavia tackle our roads easily; comfy tyres help too.
Once we are on more open roads, I do something I’ve been waiting to do since getting the car: open up the taps and wind the 1.5 TSi all the way to the redline before punching in the next gear. This gets the corners of my mouth to curl up involuntarily. The Slavia dispatches a long steep climb with the effortlessness of a much larger engined car; it displays a sense of calm and stability only cars twice the price exhibit, and then what sort of makes this the perfect weapon for our conditions is that it has a hovercraft-like ability to soak up bumps at speed… without the bumps having any adverse effect on directional control. The fact that it’s built on what is widely considered to be one of the best platforms around sure does help.
The road up ahead is still clear, so I steer the car smoothly into the next couple of corners, add power progressively and then revel in the sensations as the Slavia hugs the road and exits the corner with plenty in reserve. The roads are so empty and I’m enjoying the drive so much, I reset my destination. Nothing to do now but drive on some of Mumbai’s fast and fun roads. Going to my favourite old bakery in Fort area will just have to wait. This car is so sorted, I can’t resist carrying on. It’s a good thing too as this turns out to be a real fun drive. And then even when I eventually get to Fort, downtown traffic hasn’t picked up too much either.
TOO TOUCHY: Hand keeps brushing against touch-sensitive air-con controls when changing gears.
Wish the engine was a bit more reactive though. Its laid-back demeanour is all very well when you are ambling along, but every once in a while, you want the engine to react with some amount of urgency, and it isn’t quite there. Driver modes would have helped for sure. I’m also not a big fan of the design of the dash. It is solidly built and quality levels are pretty good, but the bronze trim looks very ‘80s, very Miami Vice to me, and the central rib that runs across the cabin doesn’t elevate cabin ambience either.
POP UP ADS: Tachometer impossible to read when speed warning pops up.
Then I keep brushing my knuckles against the ‘touch’ sensitive air-con panel as I shift gears and the tachometer gets obscured by the speed warning that pops up at 80kph. Even the driver’s seat doesn’t drop as low as I’d like; the ratchet mechanism has been moved up higher for short drivers.
THUMP THUMP: Sub-woofer in the wheel works great…even when you really turn up volume.
Absolutely love the front seats though. Large and supportive, these seats will keep you comfortable for hours, and I like how well insulated and isolated the car feels from the rest of the world outside. Features I use regularly include wireless Apple CarPlay, which I find to be both essential and quite exceptional, and I like that the sub-woofer-equipped multi-speaker audio system just rocks. It clearly has more punch and drive than many of the branded systems around.