Things to look forward to in the car:
- New 1.5-litre TDI engine
- 7-speed DSG transmission
- Black Package
Things that would make you think twice about the car:
- No new brand design language yet
- Inefficient service network
While on one side their Octavia is selling much faster than they can fill in the order books, Skoda India is having a rough time selling their entry level product, Rapid. The competition has grown strong and Skoda had to up their game. A new engine and a gearbox is how they have chosen to fight the opponents. As we have already said in our First Drive report that the new Rapid is not a facelift but a Model Year update. So, though there are no changes in design, the Rapid now gets a new 1.5-litre diesel engine along with a 7-speed DSG automatic transmission and a new Black Package. Will it be enough to keep the Rapid going?
The Skoda Rapid for the MY15 looks the same except for the redesigned 15-inch alloy wheels on the top variant and 15-inch steel wheels on the others. Other than that, the Rapid is still the neat little car it always has. Basically a Volkswagen Vento, the Rapid gets a sculpted hood and neat lines adorning its sides to differentiate from the Vento. We were expecting that the Rapid will be getting a makeover with the new family design that the other cars in Skoda’s lineup have now. But the reason why Skoda didn’t is known to them only.
To spice things up, Skoda has also introduced a new Black Package, available for the top variant. The Black Package consists of black shades on the front fog lamps and projector headlamps, black 15-inch alloy wheels, black ORVMs and a black front grill including the logo lip. A glossy black roof and black side foils are also available as accessories for certain exterior colours. The Black Package certainly looks the part, especially in the red exterior colour. But we think Skoda should have brought this as standard and not as a package. Still, the Black Package is a must have.
The story is the same in the inside as the out. The Rapid retains the same interiors with dual tone dashboard that is neat and feels smooth and solid. The steering wheel gets mounted audio and telephone controls. The center console gets a new feature in the form of a card holder. Other new features include cruise control system and rear parking sensors. Skoda has also introduced an app for iOS and Android to control the Rapid’s radio system.
Other features include 2-DIN audio system with Bluetooth, USB, Aux-in and card reader support, height adjustable driver seat, steering mounted audio and telephone controls, automatic AC, dual rear AC vents, ABS and dual front airbags.
The seats are comfortable and offer great support. The driver seat is height adjustable and the steering is rake and rear adjustable, so finding that perfect driving position wouldn’t be a pain. Rear seats have a great reclining angle and the rear passengers also get AC vents to fight the heat.
Coming to the part why we are writing the review in the first place, the new 1.5-litre for the Rapid is the same that does duty in the new Polo and also the recently launched Vento. We drove both the 5-speed manual and the newly introduced 7-speed DSG automatic and will be talking about the later here. The 1.5-litre TDI engine puts out a 105 PS of maximum output at 4400 rpm and 250 Nm of peak torque at 1500-2500 rpm.
The Rapid is also available with a 1.6-litre petrol engine option with either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 1.6-litre petrol engine makes the same output as the diesel engine 105 PS, at 5250 rpm and a maximum torque of 153 Nm at 3800 rpm.
Ride and Handling (5/5)
The engine brings out its best vibes in the mid range and at the same time encourages you to push for more. The 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox, available only for the diesel engine, keeps up its legacy for being among the best in the business. The shifts are smooth in the normal drive mode, though they are late to kick if you floor the pedal. But it is in these conditions, you have to put in sport mode and let the engine growl. The Sport mode holds the gear longer to extract the maximum revs possible before shifting up and also makes the engine go more vocal.
The narrow and curvy roads of Goa extracted great levels of performance both from the engine and the gearbox. The steering wheel, which has a nice response and feedback from the front wheels, is great to grip and easy to use in city traffic. When pushed to the maximum, the steering weighs up nicely, though a bit more feedback would have been great.
Fuel Efficiency (3.5/5)
The 1.5-litre diesel gets a fuel economy of 21.14 kmpl with the manual gearbox and 21.66 kmpl and 21.66 kmpl with the automatic gearbox while the petrol gets 15 kmpl and 14.3 kmpl for the manual and automatic transmissions respectively. The fuel efficiency figures are as claimed by Skoda.
Skoda Rapid has been a great car to drive and with the latest addition of the 1.5-litre diesel engine and 7-speed DSG auto combo, it just got more interesting. When, in the introduction, we said that the competition has grown strong, we meant both in quantity and quality. The new generation Honda City, ever popular Hyundai Verna, alluring Fiat Linea, for-the-drivers Ford Fiesta and the new Maruti Suzuki Ciaz - they all offer a great deal of choice for the customer. A diesel automatic in this segment hasn’t got much choice and picking the Rapid would be the ideal decision. But the real competition comes within the family, with the recent introduction of Vento with the same mechanicals.
So how does the Skoda Rapid fit in? Those who are looking for a peppy diesel engine with a smooth shifting automatic gearbox and great driving characteristics will feel right at home in a Rapid.