There's nothing more interesting in the world than a healthy sibling rivalry. The French-Sino Nissan and Renault and the Czech-German Volkswagen and Skoda are a perfect example for this. We decided to compare the newly updated Volkswagen Vento 1.5 TDI and the Skoda 1.5 TDI for this test drive comparison review.
Volkswagen Vento is based on one of the best selling global hatchback - the Polo. The growing demand of mid-size sedans forced VW to launch the Vento in India. The Skoda family on the other hand, was facing a tough challenge from the VW and hence they decided to play safe by launching the Rapid sedan, which was based on the Vento.
Will the Czech mid-size sedan be able to beat the car it is based on, we will find in this review?
The new Rapid comes with the signature grille with the vertical bars cornered with chrome surrounds. The neatly integrated Skoda's logo, wide air dam and bulged bonnet lines complete the front profile of the car. On the side profile, the neatly carved fenders come fitted with the set of bold alloy wheels. The rear profile of the new Rapid remains unchanged and looks stylish enough thanks to the signature C-shaped tail lamps.
On the other hand, the changes on the facelifted Vento are more visible than that of Rapid. The key styling element includes a dual chrome slat fitted redesigned grille, chrome surrounded air dam and chrome surrounded fog-lamps completing the front profile. While the front has its own share of changes, side profile is a twin of Skoda rapid. The rear profile of the car gets a new set of striking taillight cluster, and a chrome line on the trunk to make it more expressive.
Overall, exteriors is one area where it is hard to differentiate between the Skoda Rapid and Volkswagen Vento if the company's emblem is removed. Though both the mid-size sedans comes with their bit of changes, they are yet to match the striking looks of some of the rivals like the Ford Fiesta and the Honda City.
The new Skoda Rapid comes wrapped in dual tone cabin with Mocha and Ivory color scheme. Though we are not very happy with the plastics quality when compared to the VW Vento, the use of chrome definitely accentuates the interiors. The stylish multi-functional three spoke steering wheel comes wrapped in leather and the round shaped instrument cluster gives all the necessary information. The equipment level is top notch and the sedan comes fitted with equipments like automatic AC, Audio player (which sadly is not a touch screen) and a lot of storage space. The seats are equally good with ergonomic design covered in premium Ivory fabric seat upholstery.
The VW Vento on the other hand reflects the plushness and is as premium as it can get. Wrapped in dual tone of black and beige, the cabin quality of the Vento is second to none. The neatly laid out central console and a flat bottom steering wheel detailed with piano black finish makes the cabin a desirable place to be at. The cabin quality is complimented with the well cushioned seats that comes with adjustable head restraints. Further, utilities like the cup holders, folding coat hooks on the grab handles and armrest for both front and rear make it the best cabin in the lot.
Overall, while the Skoda Rapid's interior is sporty, the Volkswagen Vento offers neatly laid out business class cabin.
Engine, Performance and gearbox
The top of the line Skoda Rapid 1.5 TDI, as the name suggests, come powered by an all new 1498cc 4 cylinder, 16 valve in-line diesel unit. The turbocharged engine churns out a maximum power of 103.56bhp at 4400rpm and a peak torque output of 250 Nm between 1500 to 2500rpm. The engine is mated to a super efficient world-class 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox that sends power to the front wheels.
Now the thing to notice is that the VW Vento comes powered with the exact same engine, generating exact same output and the same DSG gearbox. The only difference we felt was among the 'D' and 'S' gear modes. The VW Vento, when on 'D' mode, make you crave for more power and one has to push to 'S' for that extra grunt. On the other hand, the Rapid is still powerful enough on the 'D' mode and you select the 'S' mode rarely.
Overall, both the cars deliver similar output in terms of performance as they share the same gearbox and engine. Although, the Rapid has a tendency to accelerate quickly given the way it is designed to be much sportier than the Vento.
Ride and Handling
The new Skoda Rapid comes with the McPherson Strut suspension system, the lower triangular links and torsion stabilizers at the front axle. The rear axle on the other hand gets a compound-link crank axle system, that makes the Rapid stable. Apart from everything, it is the steering wheel that's worth mentioning. The rack and pinion based electromechanical power steering system features a speed-dependent control system and gives you instant feedback while driving.
The VW Vento comes with a suspension system that's no where near to the Skoda's system and one can feel the thump rather loudly when Vento passes through the potholes. While the front axle comes with the McPherson struts and stabilizer bar, the rear axle gets the semi independent trailing arm type of mechanism. The steering wheel is quite nimble and makes you feel sitting back at the rear seats instead of driving one.
Overall, Skoda Rapid is the clear winner here with a better drive quality and sporty steering. If you love driving, you will not regret buying a Skoda Rapid.
Safety and Equipment
On the safety front, the new Skoda Rapid comes loaded with an anti-lock braking system with the dual rate brake assist, electronic stability control, 3-point ELR seat belts, and fuel supply cut-off in a crash. Other safety features include the parktronic sensors at rear, dual front airbags, anti-glare inside rear view mirror and a rear windscreen defogger with timer. The power windows come with one touch operation, including bounce back system.
On the features front, the Skoda Rapid gets Climatronic automatic air conditioning system, GSM telephone preparation with Bluetooth connectivity. The sedan also gets cruise control system, remote control release of the boot lid, 2-DIN audio player along with USB port, SD card Slot and Aux-In socket and steering steering mounted audio control.
On the VW Vento, one gets safety features like the ABS and airbags as standard in the top-end variants. Also, an advanced engine immobilizer with floating code make sure that no unauthorized person enters the car. Like the Skoda Rapid, all the four power windows gets the pinch guard safety feature (in case of accident, the window rolls down, allowing passengers to get down easily).
Inside the cabin, the glove box gets the cooling effect, while the steering wheel is leather wrapped. The VW Vento gets the same Climatronic automatic air conditioning unit that filters out dust and pollen like the Skoda Rapid. Other features include the 2-din audio system with USB, Aux-in, MMC slots, and the Bluetooth connectivity along with rear AC vents.
Both the cars come with somewhat similar features and safety equipment. It's hard to choose any of these cars based on the equipments they offer.
If there is could be any neck-to-neck fight, these two cars could very well be the epitome of it. Volkswagen Vento and Skoda Rapid are almost same with minor variance. Ironically, the prices for both the sedans is also similar and Skoda Rapid is priced almost Rs 20000 less than the VW Vento. So it finally comes down to the drive quality and handling that will decide the difference for you.
From what we felt, the Skoda Rapid has a bit more character when it comes to handling. The steering is more sporty and it feels fun to drive on straights as well as the corners. The Vento on the other hand is bit nimble and more of a chauffeur driven sedan. If you have that driving knack, you will surely miss the fun in this car. So if you are a brand snob, Volkswagen will fulfill your appetite. Though, our vote goes to the Skoda Rapid.