Skoda Kushaq DSG: My observations after 2 days of driving

Slot into D mode, take your foot off the brake pedal and the Skoda Kushaq DSG slowly creeps forward. This will be highly appreciated in heavy traffic conditions where you can drive with just the brake pedal.

GTO spent the weekend driving the 2021 Skoda Kushaq DSG. His review below:

Driving the Kushaq 1.5L DSG Automatic

Having driven the Kushaq 1.5L MT & all the fun I had with it on the highway, I was looking forward to the 1.5L DSG as well. Called for the car in Bombay and spent some time with it. As you would’ve guessed, the engine + transmission are identical to the VW Taigun.

The likes are as expected = fast shifting DSG, fantastic 1.5L motor, enjoyable performance, nice engine braking, well-tuned suspension. The dislikes too are as expected = DSG reliability woes, no AT with 6 airbags (terrible decision by Skoda) & the 1.5’s prominent boominess at high revs (gets annoying). Am also very concerned about the many breakdown reports of brand-new Kushaqs.

Fast and effortless at any legal speed, this powertrain compliments the ride and handling characteristics of the car beautifully. The combo makes the Kushaq an effortless cross-country mile-muncher, if fuel prices aren’t a concern.

Slot into D mode, take your foot off the brake pedal and the Kushaq DSG slowly creeps forward. This will be highly appreciated in heavy traffic conditions where you can drive with just the brake pedal. With a light foot, the gearbox moves up the ratios pretty quickly. Impressively, you won’t feel these shifts as the transition is butter smooth. While the automatic transmission makes the Kushaq very easy to drive in the city, when crawling in slow traffic (1st – 3rd gears), you will experience a little jerkiness, which is a typical DSG trait. In the city, the 1.5 motor’s healthy bottom end helps you get around effortlessly. Throttle response is good and the Kushaq rolls smoothly. Add to that, the direct-injection and turbocharger ensure that the engine isn’t lethargic at any speed. There’s always enough power on tap to accelerate or overtake quickly.

Out on the highway is when things go from good to great! This is easily among the most fun-to-drive crossovers for 2 million bucks, whether with a DSG or the MT. You’ll find yourself addicted to flooring the throttle whenever there’s an empty stretch of road. Outright performance is excellent and the strong mid-range takes care of all the overtaking you need to do. Downshifts are quick (not as fast as upshifts though) and the gearbox responds well to throttle inputs. The 7th ratio gives the Kushaq DSG long legs on the highway. And touring you must do – this car is built for long road-trips. In summary, the 1.5 TSI DSG is a jewel of a combination that will keep you happy at low revs & high, and in the city as well as on the highway. Other than its reliability woes, this is one of the best AT gearboxes sold in India.

I found the 1.5L TSI to be too boomy at high revs though. If you are continuously driving hard and / or in “S” mode, your passengers will complain about the prominent boominess. It is part motor, and part compromised insulation levels. The sound gets very annoying if you are driving aggressively for a longer duration.

Tap the left paddle for a downshift and manual mode is engaged. The ECU blips the throttle to match the revs, and holds the gear till near the redline. This gets addictive, especially during overtakes! However, even in manual mode, the DSG will upshift above ~6,000 rpm and also downshift below ~1,000 rpm. We feel this is way too conservative – the MT revs to ~6600 rpm. Manual mode will also ignore wrong gear selections which put the engine out of the above rpm ranges. Long hold the paddles to revert back to auto mode.

Cruising around in D mode, one won’t even notice the gears being shifted. They are damn smooth. The kickdown response time is quick enough and you will never feel that the gearbox is hunting for gears either. It’s in the right ratio almost all the time. When you are in the mood to drive the car aggressively, engage Sport mode. In S, the gearbox downshifts to keep the car in the power band, holds the ratios longer and lets the punchy midrange do all the heavy lifting required. But in “S” mode, the boominess is more obvious (due to the higher rpm levels). Out on the open road, you will find it hard to resist the urge to go hard on the throttle. The Kushaq is simply brilliant to drive!

On the flip side, we have scarily serious concerns over the DSG’s long-term reliability. Just search on Team-BHP and you will see story after story of DQ200 failures & breakdowns. Skoda insists they have fixed the problem, but we aren’t convinced at all. This gearbox has inherent design defects IMHO. Some BHPians who can’t resist the DSG have mentally relegated themselves to 2 breakdowns over 8 – 10 years of ownership. If reliability is your topmost criteria, you should pick the 1.0 with a torque-converter AT, or consider another car model altogether.

Continue reading the discussion on the 2021 Skoda Kushaq on our forum.

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