After having played second fiddle to its cousin Volkswagen for the last couple of years, Skoda wants to be back on car buyer’s radar, and the new Rapid is the car they will use to win. The Czech brand has made Rapid’s first proper facelift in five years and we shall find out what is it that makes it really different now.
New Skoda Rapid exudes premium feel with its redesigned front end. It gets projector headlamps with ‘jewel-shadow’ daytime running lights, new ‘butterfly’ grille and a resculpted edgy bumper with a large lower air intake and fog-lamps. One glance will make you feel you are looking at the baby version of the Octavia.
There is no change to the side profile but you will find a chrome moulding on the door handles, while the rear end gets slight changes like a revised bumper and bootlid mounted chrome strip. Overall with the smooth clean lines and edgy touches all over the car, it looks fresh and sporty.
Once you step inside it welcomes you with comfortable cushioned seats and the same high quality dashboard shared with the VW Vento. There are some new addition to this new model like a new 6.5 inch touchscreen infotainment system with Mirrorlink, USB, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity. Other features include electrically foldable OVRM’s with integrated indicators and rain-sensing wipers.
Understandably, Skoda has convenience features like a cruise control, automatically-dimming rear-view mirror and cooled glovebox. For rear passenger’s comfort, Skoda has placed rear air conditioning vents. The car does miss out on some crucial features like rear camera and engine start/stop button which is available on most of its rivals.
In terms of space, the car is spacious not only for the front occupants, but also for the rear passengers. There is ample amount of kneeroom and headroom, and going for the highway trips won’t be tiring at all. With that, you need a space to load up your luggage which is not a problem as the new Rapid gets a 460 litre boot.
Engine, performance and gearbox
With Skoda Rapid you get a choice of two engine options – the 1.5-litre diesel engine with 108 bhp and a 1.6-litre petrol engine with 103 bhp. The diesel engine gets a power bump and is the same that was first introduced in Volkswagen Ameo. This power unit will serve you best when coupled with company’s tried and tested 7-speed DSG transmission, while a 5-speed manual also works pretty good. Overtaking is no sweat at all, just press the gas pedal and after 2000 rpm you start feeling the car pulling hard. Though getting higher up the rpm range might make the engine sound louder, but power delivery is sweet.
Ride and Handling
The new Rapid is comfortable whether it’s through slow speed city traffic or driving on an open highway. Hill climbing was no pain with oodles of available torque from this diesel DSG. Driving on twisties was just so easy, thanks to its heavy and precise steering response that demands throwing it more while cornering. Suspension setup has been carried forward from the previous model, meaning it can easily absorb small thumps with poise. Stability is one word that can describe the new Rapid and make it one of the better options for highway cruising.
Skoda’s Rapid was already a well made driver’s car, and this new one just brings the bar higher. The new one gets a fantastic 7-speed DSG mated to a responsive and frugal diesel engine. Direct steering and minimum body roll makes it a delightful car to drive around. It is spacious enough and comes with a host of pampering features. In short looks and does feels like a baby Octavia and drives and handles like one too.