The Skoda Rapid has been in our market for the past five years, but its success rate hasn’t been what the Czech manufacturer was hoping for. Buyers primarily preferred the ever dependable Honda City or the flamboyant Hyundai Verna or the value for money Maruti Suzuki Ciaz. The fact that it felt too similar to the Volkswagen Vento and people apprehension over Skoda’s aftersales service quality further put it out of preference.
Now though, Skoda has launched the updated Rapid and the changes aren’t just skin deep. You also get the upgraded 1.5-litre diesel unit which makes more power than before. To address its aftersales issue, Skoda is also offering a comprehensive 4-year maintenance plan with the car. So are these factors enough to get the buyers back in Skoda showroom? We drove the car in picturesque Mussoorie to find answers
Adding some sharpness are the new quartz-cut projector headlights. Adding some more drama is the chrome eyelash blending in with the jewel-shadow LED daytime running lights. It might sound complex but it does look good. The bumper has been revised as well with redesigned fog lights and now incorporating a lip spoiler s well.
The side profile remains the same barring the inclusion of the new 15-inch ‘Matone’ alloy wheels and chrome moulding on the deck lid and door handles. At the rear you now get C-shaped smoked tail lights and an integrated spoiler.
Overall the Rapid looks much sharper and definitely in line to take on the fresh competition.
Skoda have always had a common theme on the insides for all its cars and the Rapid is no different. While the basic dashboard layout is the same, it now gets doused in loads of Skoda overtones. A combination of beige and brown makes the already spacious interiors even more roomy. The front seats are extremely comfortable and offer good support all round. Adjustable for height and reach, finding a good driving position is very easy.
However it’s hard to ignore the carried over parts like the headlight switch, climate control and the aircon vents which could have received a different treatment. Another major miss are the steering mounted controls which Skoda for some reason seems to avoid.
A major change however, is the addition of the seven-speed automatic DSG transmission. This is the same one found on the Octavia and also the VW Vento. The Rapid is powered by a 103bhp four cylinder diesel unit and mated to the new DSG transmission. The Rapid Black Edition is a pleasure to drive car with the DSG transmission. No more shuffling through gears or having to press the heavy clutch, which is painful in city driving. Just shift the transmission to the “D” position and let the car do all the work. The shifts are seamless and there is not too much turbo-lag. The Rapid Black Edition is easy to drive and is comfortable too. Power wise the Skoda responds well to changes in the throttle position as well as deciding which gear to be in. One aspect that should be highlighted is that the seven-speed dual clutch DSG transmission provides a better fuel efficiency than then manual car. At 22.1km/l the Rapid Black Edition is extremely fuel efficient, all because of two extra cogs in the gears.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
The suspension setup on the Rapid remains the same as previously, which is good considering the Rapid has always been comfortable on the move. Rapid’s ride settingsseem consistent with the engine characteristics as the petrol Rapid rides considerably softer than its diesel counterpart.
Between the petrol and the diesel Rapid, the petrol is lighter than the diesel by about 70kg for the manual version and 40kg for the automatic. The weight gain and stiffer setup results in a better grip for the diesel Rapid which inspires confidence at higher speeds.
The diesel Rapid is also a bit more engaging for the same reasons although the electro-mechanic power steering doesn’t deliver much feedback.
The steering feels light and doesn’t weigh a great dealat higher speeds. That said, the steering never appeared vague at any speeds; it’s just light but precise. Considering that the Rapid rides a bit soft, body roll is well contained and the cabin doesn’t unsettle unless it is driven rash.
Talking about safety, Skoda India is offering ABS and dual front airbags as standard across all the trims of the new Rapid. You also get Hill Hold Control and Electronic Stability Control with the DSG transmission. Skoda has had a bad reputation in India when it comes to after sales but they’ve come a long way in making the process transparent and reliable. They are also offering 4 year service car programme as standard with the new Rapid that covers 4 years warranty, 4 years of roadside assistance and an optional 4 year service package.
When viewed as a whole, there is a strong case to be made for the facelifted Rapid – it looks fresher and drives very well. While those looking for a family car might find more value in rivals like the Honda City or the Maruti Ciaz, those who are likely to spend most of their time behind the wheel will enjoy the punchy, relatively-more-involving rive of the Rapid.
SKODA RAPID PRICE IN INDIA ;
Skoda Rapid Ex Showroom Price in New Delhi ranges from 8,20,250/- (Rapid 1.6 MPI Active Petrol) to 13,06,425/- (Rapid 1.5 TDI CR Style AT)