Skoda Rapid Facelift First Drive

OVERVIEW ;

The Skoda Rapid is the most important product in the Czech carmaker’s India line-up. It is an India-specific product and a volume player for Skoda.

Half a decade into its life, the Rapid gets its first major design revamp and sheds the face it inherited from the Fabia. We hit the road with the aesthetically sharper, more powerful and better equipped Rapid to see just how much more appealing and fresh it feels now. Check On Road Price of Rapid

EXTERIORS ;

The Rapid’s fascia is completely new. A new chrome-outlined grille and angular headlamps bring it more in line with its bigger brothers, the Octavia and the Superb. Below the grille sits a redesigned bumper, with a large, honey-combed lower air intake, prominent air dam and fog lamps. In profile, the Rapid has not changed at all, and the only revision round the back is the lightly redesigned bumper and tailgate-mounted chrome strip. Other nouveau embellishments include the projector headlights with “jewel-shadow” daytime running lights as Skoda calls them and chrome moulding on the door handles. On the whole, the clean lines and sharp edges make the Rapid look fresh, purposeful and contemporary.

Other changes include a new 110hp diesel engine and some equipment upgrades. As earlier, the Rapid will be available in three trims – Active, Ambition and Style, with petrol as well as diesel, and manual as well as automatic options.

INTERIORS ;

On the inside the Rapid gets fabric seats. The Dashboard is the same which looks dated. There haven’t been any changes to the interiors, which is not a very pleasant thing. It does not get a touchscreen either, which is available on most cars in its segment. The Rapid Black Edition has cruise control too. It is a spacious car and has very good leg room, even at the rear. The seats are high and have good padding and support. Getting in and out of the car is very convenient. Like in all Skodas the trunk space is phenomenal with one drawback being that the boot can’t be opened from the outside unless the user does so with the key. The boot can be opened by a one touch button from the inside, but hitting the unlock button for the doors does not unlock the trunk. The spare wheel is not a full size one and gets a narrower tyre.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;

;Powering the front wheels is a 1598cc oil burning lump which features like double over head cams and a high pressure direct injection system. While you don’t have to guess where this engine comes from, what you will keep wondering is how different this engine feels in the Rapid. Pushing out a 105 PS @ 4400 rpm and a meaty 250 Nm of torque between 1500-2500 rpm, the Rapid is tuned in a slightly different way compared to the Vento. While it’s slightly more audible, performance throughout the rev range is extremely linear with a crisp throttle response. In fact driven around town, the Rapid actually feels quicker than its German sibling. However numbers tell a different tale.

Flat out the 100 comes up in 12.03 (11.16 seconds for the Vento) seconds which is a tad slower than the Vento. Roll-on figures reveal a similar story. The 40-120 in fourth gear takes 17.12 (16.29 seconds for the Vento) seconds which are some very good figures. Keeping the throttle pedal buried we maxed the Rapid out at 182 km/h. There is absolutely nothing to choose between the Czech and the German when it comes to performance. Braking is also a sure footed affair with the Rapid featuring dual rate brake assist along with ABS which helps in shedding speed rapidly.

RIDE AND HANDLING ;

Driving around slow moving traffic and by lanes, we really appreciated the direct and easy to twirl steering which makes it easy to maneuver. Low speed ride is absorbent and pot-hole infested roads were also dismissed without any problem. But large road imperfections do make their presence felt in the cabin, as the suspension thuds through them. On the highway, the Rapid displays good stability and the comfortable ride makes it an able cruiser. Over undulating surfaces it does tend to bounce a bit and a flatter ride would have been welcomed. Around twisty sections, the Rapid feels willing and the direct steering, good body control and loads of grip gives you lot of confidence. The brakes too offered good bite and stopping power felt more than adequate.

SAFETY ;

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.

CONCLUSSION ;

The update has certainly made the Rapid a lot more competitive. For starters it looks a lot sharper than before, gets more features along with ABS and Airbags being standard across all variants. Skoda has also looked into the warranty aspect and is now the only manufacturer offering a standard four year warranty along with four years of Skoda Roadside Assistance and Skoda maintenance Package. With prices for the base petrol manual starting at 8.19 lakh and going up to Rs. 12.55 lakh for the top end Style DSG (ex-Mumbai), prices are on par with the competition. The Rapid makes a strong case for itself for those who like to drive and appreciate a well-built product.

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