Skoda Rapid: First Drive
Skoda Auto, fully owned subsidiary of Europe`s popular automobile maker Volkswagen, has been on the success route since its Voiturette A days dated back in 1905, which was a hit in those days and went ahead and became a synonym for Czech automobile design.
Skoda Auto has been in India for quite some time now. Internationally, they have made a mark as an economic brand but in India, they have a premium image. The Skoda lineup includes the premium hatch Fabia, up market sedan Laura, its racy cousin Laura RS, crossover Yeti and the premium luxury sedan- the Laura Superb.
Skoda Octavia was a very famous model in its days. Its comfort levels were second to that of premium German car makers. However, a void was felt when it was discontinued. The gap between the premium hatch Fabia and the D-segment Laura had widened. The Volkswagen Vento, coming from its parent company, does an impressive tenure in the mid-size sedan.
Thus Skoda Auto decided to penetrate the C+ midsize sedan market using the same Vento platform with its Skoda Rapid. The Skoda Rapid is a very important model for Skoda Auto India. It’s an India-specific model; built keeping the Indian conditions in consideration.
We drive the Skoda Rapid in Jaipur. A drive from Chandwaji to Mandawa, which included smooth highways, narrow bylanes and bad- patchy roads. We drove the Automatic 1.6 MPI/77 kW and the manual 1.6 TDI CR/77 kW. Will the Skoda Rapid be the mid-size sedan leader and take on the likes of Hyundai Verna, Honda City and Ford Fiesta? We find out.
The exteriors of Skoda Rapid are very ‘deceptive’. It looks like an amalgamation of Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Vento. Personally, I had wished for a better exterior design.
Skoda Auto maintains the similarity seen is mainly because the Rapid is based on the same Vento platform. They also insist that the design Skoda Rapid has been conceived keeping in mind the different Skoda ideologies.
The overall exterior proportions look decent. The same Fabia-ish front description complemented by the chrome trims on the conventional front grille.The side profile looks little stretched, thus giving more room space in the interiors. The B-pillar has a glossy black finish.
Muscular lines clubbed with wide doors give a nice side profile to the Skoda Rapid. The doors open really wide, thus making it easy to get in and out.
The 5-spoked 15inch Antares alloy wheels look really chunky and stylish.
In the rear, if compared with the VW Vento can be differentiated on many counts, which include the distinctly symbolic Skoda tail lights, the C and horizontally inverted C type.
The boot lif of the Skoda Rapid has an envelope crease look around the rear number plate, which adds quite a profile on the tail. The rear of Skoda Rapid has straight lines and very simple in design.
The ORVMs are body colored and can be adjusted electronically from inside with the help of an intuitive joystick control. The lower half of the ORVM has been given a black base to save it from scratches.The rear luggage space is generous and we suspect a 500 ltr space. The actual dimensions have not been released as yet.
The Skoda Rapid will be offered in 6 color shades.To conclude the overall design of Skoda Rapid, We had wished for a completely different looking car, but this one looks “deceptively” similar to a hatch and a sedan.
The interior quality of Skoda Rapid is nice and gives the up market feeling but that’s again a typical Skoda feel, which can be felt in all its portfolio models. Skoda has applied its ‘Simply Clever’ solutions to the Rapid.
The ivory interiors have dual tone Mocca/Ivory finishing to it. The entire theme of dual shades runs on the door trims too with chrome door handles.The seats of Skoda Rapid have an adjustment setting in which the front passenger seat can be adjusted from the rear. The front as well as rear seats have adjustable head restraints. The front driver seat has height adjustment feature too. The lumber support provided for the seats is comfortable for longer journeys.
The interior legroom and headroom are also of decent proportions. 4 spoke steering wheel has chrome tinge to it. The steering wheel is length as well as height adjustable. Something that was a disappointment, no steering mounted controls.
Instrumental cluster has the conventional Speedo and Tacho display along with distance travelled, average speed, immediate consumption, average consumption, travel distance before refueling, service interval, Outside temperature and clock.
Centre console is slightly tilted towards the driver and houses the AC vents, music system and AC controls also it has a 12V power socket. The music system, a Skoda audio player is the 2-DIN type ("DIN" is an industry standard for head unit size i.e., the radio/CD player that's mounted in the dash. 2-DIN is two DIN units stacked, or a single unit that's the same size as two DIN units. That means 4" tall and 7" wide.).
Music system has AUX-in for portable music players along with a SD/MMC data card reader and has speakers on both front and rear doors. The audio system can be locked with a security code. The Climatronic control took charge effectively in the extensive hot weather of Jaipur. The rear has adjustable dual rear-conditioning vents.
The windows work on one-touch and are tinted. The windows pull up when locked using the remote control. There is optimal storage space in the interior of Skoda Rapid. The front centre console, the recess under the armrest, the glove box and the front and rear door pockets all can house in the mundane necessities. There is a foldable cup holder which is positioned directly below the rear AC vents.
There is a coat hook provided on the B-pillars. Talking of safety, The Skoda Rapid is equipped with ABS, Dual Rate brake assist, Driver front airbag, front passenger airbag, security code for audio player, engine immobilizer with floating code system, Two three-point outer seat belts and centre lap belt at rear, halogen head lamps, Anti-glare interior rear view mirror, rear windscreen defogger with timer and child-proof rear door and window locking.
We drove the 1.6 MPI and the 1.6 TDI CR avatars of the Skoda Rapid.
Skoda Auto, I always have believed make very driver centric cars. The cars give immense driving pleasure. The 1.6 MPI is a 4-cylinder 1598cc 16V DOHC engine. This mill produces a power of 105 bhp at 5250 rpm and a torque of 153 Nm at 3800 rpm. The transmission options offered are 5-speed manual as well as 6-speed automatic, with Tiptronic manual gear change.
The 1.6 TDI CR unit is a 1598cc turbocharged 16V DOHC engine producing a power of 105 bhp at 4400 rpm and a torque of 250 Nm at 1500-2500rpm. The transmission offered on this one is a 5-speed fully synchronized manual shift.
The 1.6 TDI CR behaved fantastically throughout. The diesel unit is very active and the turbo kicks in at precise intervals. The performance figures also claim the same. The 1.6 TDI CR is capable of doing a top whack of 186 kmph and a 0-100 kmph in 10.8 seconds. The 1.6 MPI (A) can reach a max speed of 183 kmph and does 0-100 kmph in 12.4 seconds.
The manual shift is super smooth. The route chosen for this drive was meticulously planned to display the prowess of Skoda Rapid. We were very impressed by the handling of the car. The narrow bylanes were no longer something we avoided; on the contrary it was a delight to drive through them.
Reaching triple digit figures on the 1.6 TDI CR was not a task at all. We were comfortably cruising at speeds of 160 kmph. However, we felt the suspensions are little bit inclined towards the stiffer side.
It performed really well on the highways too. Braking also is as impressive as other performance figures courtesy the highly effective ABS system. Move her to any direction and you won’t feel any body roll.
We did performance driving as well as economic driving and were impressed to see a best fuel economy of 14.5 kmpl.
The growl of the engine is super addictive (you can hear it when the video starts). Give her some hard throttle and the engine comes into life, firing all the cylinders. On a stand still you can rev the engine upto 2500 rpm.
All the fun we had in manual unfortunately was not experienced by us in the Automatic version.
The automatic lacks the punch considerably. We were struggling to pass the 125 kmph mark in it. On highways, the car was a big disappointment as and when we had to overtake, a lot of momentum had to be built to do it.
Shift her in the Tiptronic mode and still the miseries don’t end. The Skoda Rapid Automatic was too adamant to respond. The confidence of the 1.6 TDI CR was totally lost in this one. The most embarrassing moment was, when we were overtaken by a Swift DZire and were given a pathetic look for occupying the road on something as slow as this :P
However, we loved one particular thing i.e. at a standstill this engine could be freely reved to any rpm. Thus, you could hear the perfect engine growl on this one unlike the 2500 rpm limited in the 1.6 TDI CR.
|Variant||Elegance Petrol||Elegance Diesel|
|Torque in NM/RPM||153/3800||250/2500|
|Tyres||175/70 R14||175/70 R14|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||55L||55L|
|Turning circle radius in M||5.3||5.3|
|Features||Active||Active Plus||Ambition||Ambition Plus||Elegance|
|Alloy wheels 15" Anteras||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Front and rear fog lights||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Aanti glare interior rear view mirror||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear windscreen defogger||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Driver front airbag||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Front passanger airbag||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ivory faric upholstery||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Leather wrapped steering wheel||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Leather wrapped gear selector knob||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Leather wrapped hand brake lever||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Electrically adjustable ORVM||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Multi Function Display||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Leather seat upholstery||No||-||Yes||-||Yes|
|Ex showroom price in Mumbai Rs|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||Elegance Petrol||T-Jet Plus||1.6 SX VTVT||Elegance Diesel||1.3L Emotion||1.6 SX CRDI|
|Engine Capacity (L)/Cylinder||1598||1368/4||1591/4||1598||1248||1582|
|A/C with climate control||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Integrated CD/MP3 Player||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Steering mounted audio controls||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Remote keyless entry||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Electrically adjustable ORVM||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Driver seat height adjustment||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear arm rest||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Real-time mileage indicator||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Leather wrap steering wheel and gear knob||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ABS with EBD||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ex Showroom price Mumbai||855236||924976||891466||855236||960407||1032666|
The Skoda Rapid is a very well designed C+ sedan. The levels of fit and finish and the exterior styling do justice to the winged arrow badging to this one.
On the occasion of Skoda Rapid Drive, we caught up with a relaxed Mr.Tarun Jha (Marketing Head- Skoda Auto India) and asked him if the Skoda Rapid would cannibalize the Volkswagen Vento share to which he replied, The Skoda Rapid has been made to target to C+ segment. The Skoda Rapid will be positioned against the premium players of the segment and not the entry-level players. Globally, the Skoda brand has always been positioned below Volkswagen and so the tradition will remain the same with the Rapid too.
The Skoda Rapid has all what is takes to take on the likes of Hyundai Verna, Honda City or even the benchmark Volkswagen Vento. Skoda Auto is also considering a sub 4-metre version of the same but it’s not in the immediate plans.
We are a price conscious country. The recent growing interest rates and steep hike on fuel prices have made all re-think their buying decision. Skoda Auto has priced the Rapid very tentatively to snug it inside the C+ segment.