Despite Skoda’s decade long presence in India, it has always remained a fringe player in Indian automobile industry. Skoda it seems by default chose to target the top-end niche market and was quite content with it. But with the ever growing 8-10 lac segment, it has decided to do what it did with Octavia successfully for many years. However over the years Octavia did it’s must buy status in the Indian car market. With Rapid Skoda wants to get back into the race for top-end billing and market share for itself in the Indian car market. Will Rapid be able to make Rapid strides and live up to the legendary quality standards as well as performance aspect that Skoda is known for, ecardlr drives to find out the answer:
STYLE & SUBSTANCE
Rapid no doubt is a Skoda, after all at a first glance it looks like an amalgamation of the Fabia and Vento style statement. Rapids’ front fascia is quite similar to Fabia, side profile clearly hints a Vento skinning. Skoda it seems has done a cut-paste job with Fabia’s front nose grafted to Vento’s sides. Angular front headlamps sit quite comfortably on the sculpted bonnet and provide the Rapid a character of its own. Well laid out large air-dam with neat placement in the bumper merges very well with the overall design.
Rapid comes with same wheel base as of a Vento & there is nothing to differentiate between two when seen from the side.
Rear is where the car has a design sense of its own, merging seamlessly while making the overall dimensions very appealing to look at. Heavily raked rear windscreen with tail lamps which make signature C of Skoda when lit, makes Rapid quit elegant. Whilst Rapid does have a character of its own, but similarities with its other family members makes one ignore this fact. Dimensions of the car one must admit are spot-on with a balanced profile.
INTERIORS, SPACE & ERGONOMICS
Interiors of the Rapid are of high quality & come with excellent fit & finish. Center console comes in beige-black color scheme with dull design though quality is of high standard except the air-con vents which feel flimsy. Four-spoke steering wheel is chunky & feels superb to hold. It adds to the convenience of finding ideal driving position thanks to its reach & rake adjustment settings, though we miss the seat height adjustment, which is available in higher trim level. Higher trim level also offers the useful MID (multi information display) which equips you with necessary information like travelling time, distance travelled, average speed & average consumption etc.
Front seats are large and well bolstered. The car feels spacious both in the front and rear. Rear seat bench is wide and has more than adequate space for accommodating three adults. However some more thigh support would have been welcomed.
Rear AC vents and cup-holders are nice touches. Higher trims also gets a unique touch in the form of ergo-lever providing the convenience of adjusting the front seat from rear bench (also available in VW Vento). Storage space of 460 liters is large enough to swallow your entire luggage for weekend trips.
POWER TRAIN & TRANSMISSION
Power to the wheels of Rapid comes through transversely placed 1.6 L, 4-cylinder, TDI diesel engine breathing through a 16 V architecture mounted on two overhead cams. Rated Power of 105 bhp@ 4400 rpm and a torque of 250 Nm @ 1500-2500 rpm makes the Rapid quite an agile car.
Rattling associated with the engine at lower rpm’s are quite audible outside the car, but internally the car is quite well insulated from this noise. The engine gets smoother & much more silent once it starts revving.
Linear power delivery is Rapid’s motors’ strong point. Power mill pulls up quite strongly even at low rpm unlike other turbo charged power plants in competing car which feel strained at low end. Release the clutch, sit back, relax and let the car do the rest. Rapid does not stall even at higher gears, a very useful feature for tackling city congestion. Drive it in almost any gear even at lower rpm’s and you won’t need to downshift as often as is the case with other turbo diesels. This practical aspect will help Rapid in delivering good efficiency figures even in the city traffic.
Mid-range is far more refined & punchy. There is more than adequate grunt available to do the overtaking maneuvers. Just gas up the pedal and zoom past the vehicle ahead. No planning, down shift or any such drama required.
Electrically assisted steering wheel is light and a boon in the city maneuvering though unfortunately it does not deliver the road feel as effectively. Brakes are inspiring & bites well, thus equipping the Rapid with good stopping power.
Engine is mated with 5-speed manual transmission & this is one of the slickest gear boxes around us. Throw is short & light. Clutch is light & easy to use in city without any leg pain.
Rapid uses the McPherson with torsion stabilizer up front & compound link crank axle at the rear. 14” wheels do the duty in model we tested while higher trim comes with 15” wheels.
Suspension settings are on the firmer side which is a welcome deviation from the recent trend of softly-sprung new cars. Whilst this arrangement delivers a slightly harsh low speed ride with considerable thump to passengers, but, with increasing speed, everything seems to settle down and the car takes all undulations & potholes without fuss.
Suspension by nature seems to be quite compliant with the Long wheel base providing the Rapid amazing stability as car rides flat for the most of the time.
Stiffer suspension settings makes the quite a great handler but compromises the excitement associated with other type of suspension settings. Corner the Rapid with confidence and be rest assured it won’t misbehave and the car seems quite under control with zero roll over feeling.
Rapid is Skoda’s first shot at the executive C-segment & it has managed to do it in style. Rapid seems to be the blockbuster which has everything to please one and all and that too in a segment that’s getting crowded with every passing day. With an entry price of Rs.7.95 lacs, Rapid promises to give a tough fight to entrenched competition. The only danger though could be to its elder sibling the Vento, as they are almost similar cars.
Style and Substance : 4/5 Interiors & Space : 4/5
Power Plant & Transmission : 4/5 Ride & Handling : 4/5
Safety & Equipment : 4/5 Mileage : 3/5
Value for Money : 4/5