The Rapid is the newest member of the Skoda family. Just one look at this latest offering from Skoda’s stable and one can’t but help be reminded of the Volkswagen Vento. It is no hidden secret that Volkswagen and Skoda share engines and platforms and the Skoda Rapid is basically the VW Vento with a couple of tweaks here and there.
Skoda is offering the Rapid in three trim levels. There is the base 'Active', mid-level 'Ambition' and the highest 'Elegance' trim. The petrol variants have been priced in the range of Rs 6. 96 – 8. 32 lakhs and the diesel variants cost Rs 8. 22 – 9. 58 lakhs. The automatic transmission (petrol) variants are priced from Rs 8. 42 – 9. 33 lakhs. All the prices are ex-showroom Kolkata. Unfortunately, the automatic transmission is not available on the diesel variants as of yet. Autojunction test drove the Skoda Rapid Ambition (diesel). Read the car review to find out how it faired.
Design & Engineering
As we mentioned earlier, the Skoda Rapid is a basically a marginally tweaked VW Vento. The Rapid has similar external dimensions as the VW Vento, which means the same long 2552mm wheelbase and the same 1699mm width. The length of the Rapid (4386mm), however, is 2mm longer than the Vento (4384mm).
The bonnet of the Rapid looks similar to that of the Fabia, albeit much longer and very well integrated with the rest of the body. The grille is unmistakably Skoda, with the badge sitting on the snout of the bonnet. The headlamps and fog lamps too have been borrowed from the Fabia. The side profile and rear is identical to the Vento and you’ll be forgiven for not being able to tell one from the other.
The ‘Ambition’ that we drove came with chrome trim and surround on radiator grille, body colour ORVMs and door handles, front and rear fog lamps, 14” steel wheels with Comoros full wheel cover, tinted window and windscreen. The ‘Elegance’ variant gets sporty 5 spoke 15" 'Antares' alloys with 185/60 R15 tyres. Overall, the Skoda Rapid is a sober and elegant looking car.
Interiors & Comfort
The interior of the Skoda Rapid similar to its exterior is heavily inspired by the VW Vento. While the basic dashboard layout is the same, however, the Rapid gets doused in loads of Skoda overtones. A combination of beige and brown dash and trims makes the already spacious interiors appear even roomier. The front seats are extremely comfortable and offer excellent all round support. The front centre armrest also proves to be very comfortable especially during long drives. The rear seat is wide, has decent legroom and will comfortably accommodate three medium built adults. The Rapid also boasts of impressive ride quality in its segment.
Skoda has exhibited prudent space management with a 450 litres luggage compartment, storage space in the front and rear doors, bottle holder in the front door, storage space under the front centre armrest and pocket on the backrest of the front seats.
In comparison to the Vento, the plastics that have been used in the Rapid leave much to be desired and lack the premium feel. The four-spoke Skoda steering wheel in the Rapid is similar to the one in the Fabia and is comfortable to hold, although it doesn’t come with leather wrapping even on the fully-loaded ‘Elegance’ variant.
Remote control boot lid release, reading centre lamps at the front and spot lamps at the rear, illumination of luggage compartment, 12V power socket in centre console, dust and pollen filter, height and length adjustable steering wheel, air conditioner, chrome décor for interior door handles, front and rear electrically adjustable windows, and front arm rest comes as standard features across trim levels.
The ‘Ambition’ that we tested also came with the rear centre armrest and height adjustable driver seat which helps to achieve a good driving position. The top-of-the-line ‘Elegance gets additional features like the Skoda 2-DIN audio player with security code and large format display, auxiliary audio input for portable media players, SD/MMC data card reader, climate control and electrically adjustable ORVMs. However, not even the ‘Elegance’ trim level gets steering-mounted controls.
Performance & Handling
The Skoda Rapid comes in two-engine options – a 1.6-litre petrol and a diesel with the exact same capacity. Both engines even produce identical maximum power of 105 PS, although the diesel churns of a great deal more of torque (250Nm to the petrol’s 153Nm). Similar to the VW Vento you have the option of buying the petrol engine powered Rapid with a 6-speed automatic transmission (Ambition and Elegance), however, those opting for the diesel variant have to settle for the 5-speed manual transmission that is available on both fuel type. But given the recent trend, diesel is the way that three out of four people are likely to go.
The steering felt very light at slow speed and weighed up as the speed of the car increases. Acceleration was impressive with linear power delivery and excellent torque available throughout rev range with good in-gear experience. What also makes the Rapid fun to drive is the suspension setup. The Rapid is equipped with McPherson suspension with lower triangular links and torsion stabilizer at the front and compound link crank-axle at the rear. The suspension is on the stiffer side, but at the same time can take bad roads very easily. At low speeds, the stiffness is felt when going over bumps and uneven surfaces when the jitters are sent through to the cabin. But as the speeds pick up, the Rapid shows its true potential. High speed stability is praise-worthy and body roll is well-controlled. Compared to the Vento, the suspension appears to be more compliant. The Vento is probably better on straight roads, though on typically Indian highways which are nowhere near perfect, the Rapid inches ahead.
The Rapid has hydraulic dual-diagonal circuit braking system vacuum assisted brakes with discs at the front with inner cooling, single piston floating caliper and drums at the rear. The braking is confident inspiring as the Rapid stops without any hassles.
The Skoda Rapid (diesel) boasts of ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India) ratified figures of 20.54 kmpl, although we didn’t get an opportunity to check that. But if my interactions with Rapid users are anything to go by, then the mileage rarely drops below 14.5 kmpl within the city and with the AC on. When driving on the highway, expect nothing less than 18 kmpl which is a fairly satisfying figure and should put a smile on your face.
Skoda Rapid comes with a range of safety features like remote control locking and unlocking of doors and the boot lid, child safety rear window and door locking, engine immobiliser with a floating code system (this intelligent system generates a unique code that is stored in the key every time the ignition is turned off. The next time the car is started, it checks for the same code, and doesn’t start the engine if the correct code is not found, thereby safe-guarding the car from theft) and an audio player which also comes with a similar code-based security system.
The Rapid also has a dual rate brake assist, along with the anti-lock braking system (ABS) which helps to achieve maximum braking effect and a shorter braking distance. The anti-glare interior rear view mirror ensures clear visibility and hence, safe driving in any weather condition.
Height adjustable three point seatbelts at front, height adjustable head restraints at front and rear, rear windscreen defogger with timer, engine immobilser and central locking comes as standard features across all trim levels.
The ‘Ambition’ we test drove came with additional safety features like fuel supply cut-off in a crash, driver front airbag, central locking and unlocking of doors and boot lid, ABS with dual brake assist, front and rear fog lamps.
In addition to this, the top-of-the-line ‘Elegance’ also gets front passenger airbag and security code for audio player.
The Skoda Rapid is basically a rebadged Volkswagen Vento with an identical platform, external dimensions and several other features. Skoda has put in considerable work into the car, gave it minor tweaks here and there and created a good overall product. The C segment is already packed with some very serious and accomplished contenders and the Rapid definitely has its work cut out. But it also has a lot to offer. The Skoda Rapid is an elegant looking car with spacious interiors, impressive handling and ride quality and is fuel efficient as well.
Skoda has priced the Rapid very competitively and it undercuts its rivals by a fair margin. The Skoda Rapid (diesel) is priced in the range of Rs 8. 22 - 9. 58 lakhs and is cheaper by nearly Rs 28000 than its closest rival - the Volkswagen Vento. But whichever car one might choose, at the end of the day, it’s the Volkswagen group which will go laughing all the way to the bank.