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Skoda Rapid - My Best Friend

Skoda as a manufacturer, in my opinion, has always gotten unnecessary flak in our country which had deterred its brand value a lot. It is true what they say - Try it before you buy it. We had a budget limit of 10-11 Lacs and needed a strong, safe, driver friendly car. Our options were finalized to Skoda Rapid, a car we almost knew nothing about but tried nonetheless because of its elder brother - Skoda Octavia's reputation; the ever popular Honda City and Hyundai Verna. The Rapid won in my test drive competition, although it was closely contested by City. Verna did nothing for me. Even though it has the more powerful engine out of the three (126hp), there was this constant choppiness to the ride which kept ruining the fun. It also looked a little bland in contrast to the Skoda and Honda. Mini Tank- I purchased the limited edition Skoda Rapid Ultima (Ambition+ variant) in Cappuccino Beige and I must say it is a beauty and the black stripe decals further enhance its looks. I have a fetish for huge-grilled cars and despise the almost invisible modern sleek grills of some manufacturers (looking at you, Hyundai) and the first thing I found myself facing this car was its beautiful black grill -almost like an evil grin- looking at me and I fell in love with it. Unlike its sister, the Vento, it has a bigger imposing muscular stance with huge halogen headlights giving an image of a cat stalking its prey. The car has a solid build, and I was surprised at how heavy its bonnet cover was when I opened it to examine the engine. It is built like a tank and comes with alloy wheels, slightly tinted glasses and Skoda's all so familiar c-shape rear lights. It gives you a sense of safety when you look at it and we can all agree that is always good. Simply German- Although Skoda is a Czech company, the interiors are German. In-fact they are an almost identical copy of its sister car- Volkswagen Vento. That is not to say that it?s a bad thing. The interior is beautiful, sharp and civilised - which means it looks European enough and has perfect fit and finish with hard premium plastics used with chrome trimmings to give an upmarket feel. The Beige brown colour combination with the low side window height gives the car a very roomy atmosphere and you will never feel claustrophobic in it. The seats are cushion-y yet firm giving a pleasant support to the thigh and the back to keep you comfortable in the longest of road trips. There is ample legroom and headroom at the rear and the front seats for a person of any height and size. It has enough space for three adults at the back, but if you would like to be chauffeur driven in it, there is an armrest in the centre seat which you can pull out whenever you like. Having a height adjuster at the driver seat helps too, although I, being a 5'11 guy, have never felt the need to use it. It also comes with a huge boot - and when I mean huge I mean easily stuff 4 adults worth of luggage for a 15 day trip huge. It has a 460 litres capacity and will swallow anything. The fitted company entertainment unit is very good and supports blue-tooth, USB and Aux. The provided speakers give enough amount of bass and clarity and will hold up to most expectations. It also has a microphone built into the unit so you can make and receive calls while driving and you don't even need to use your phone for that. The car steering wheel has function keys on it which allow you to answer and make calls at the touch of a button while keeping your music in control too. No more fighting with the co-passenger to change the song. Speaking of music, Skoda has done an excellent refinement job with this car. Diesel engines are known to be noisy and this one is no exception, but the noise level cancellations with the carpeting and fitting and whatever Skoda magic they used are unbelievable. My friend was shocked the first time he entered my car as to how sound proof it was. There is so little leak of noise from the outside, but more importantly no noise leaks out from the inside. Even while listening music at around a volume of 14, there is barely a buzz outside and nothing except the occasional bass thump can be heard. A Roaring Heart- Now comes the part which sold me the car. Diesel cars in our market have always been left out when it comes to powerful engines. Skoda on the other hand just might be the only company which tunes both its petrol and diesel engines to give out the same amount of power. This results in a car more powerful than even its petrol counterpart due to its torque happy engine, and makes for one of the best underrated engines in our diesel market in the sub-12 lac range. Do not get me wrong, when I test drove the Honda, it was nice, but it seriously lacked the Oomph factor. Verna was fast, but it was choppy in delivering its torque. Rapid on the other hand; it has been almost three years since I first revved it and even now it gives me a silly grin. The 1.6 TDI Diesel makes around 104-105bhp and never fails in any situation. It is happy to cruise at low speeds while in the city and stay in the first and second gear in traffic jams without any engine shudders but at the same time has maddening power for a car its size to be blasted away on highways. The turbocharged engine kicks in just about at the 1500rpm range and delivers a surge of power propelling it forward. We make frequent trips to Punjab from Delhi and this car is a joy on highways. The suspension and wheel axles are firm enough to provide support and firmness to the ride even at high speeds so that the car does not wobble, but that's not the only happy part about these drives. The part that always makes me giddy is how this car on full tank has the capacity of giving driving ranges of almost 800 kms on highway roads, meaning no wastage of money on fuel in such a punchy car. Letdowns- The only places where I would say I was disappointed would be the lack of touchscreen in the entertainment system, no sunroof option and the placement of the boot lever - you have to open the driver door to access it. It also has a heavier clutch than its competition which can take its toll on your left foot during heavy traffic jams, but these are minor nit-picks and you can't have everything now, can you? Conclusion- All in all, this car has always kept me happy, winters or summers, has not taxed me in after sales services and has just been a joy to drive becoming my best friend these past years. Anybody looking to buy in this segment, I would say this is the right car for you. A good punchy engine, stylish looks (the new 2016 looks even better) and excellent mileage and a chance to stand out in the crowd of all the Hondas and the Vernas around you and even make their owners a bit jealous. 8.5/10.

On: Jan 22, 2017 | 78 Views
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