Usually German cars’ mid-life facelifts are very mild and hard to notice but this time around Skoda has updated the Rapid with a comprehensive facelift. This is the second update since its launch in India but the previous one had very minute changes. The C-Segment sedan has got a new front profile, longer list of features and a more powerful diesel engine that we’ve recently seen in the Volkswagen Ameo. We went all the way to Mussoorie to see what’s new on offer.
DESIGN AND STYLING ;
The Skoda Rapid Black Edition looks exactly the same as the old car. The only difference is that the headlamps are blacked and also the alloy wheels are now black colored ones. The Rapid now gets projector lamps as well. This gives it a very sporty look. The Skoda Rapid is now aimed at the younger buyer. The front portion as well as the rear end remain the same and there is no change on either sides.
The dashboard is identical to the earlier Rapid’s, which in turn is shared with the VW Vento. The dash design is restrained, but everything is where you expect it to be. Taking centre stage is a new large and reasonably crisp 6.5-inch touchscreen that comes with USB, AUX and Bluetooth support as well as MirrorLink connectivity. Other new equipment include rain-sensing wipers and electronically-folding exterior mirrors, which help bridge the gap between the Rapid and better-equipped rivals. Skoda’s trademark ‘clever features’ are manifest in the form of a cardholder clip in the centre console to hold all your toll passes and the likes.
The Rapid is reasonably comfortable to sit in. The front seats are generally comfortable, with side-bolstering to hold you in place, and a large-enough seat cushion to support your thighs. Their lumbar section, however, feels a bit hollow and might irk you on longer drives. The rear seats are firm and supportive, offering adequate thigh support and legroom and good amounts of knee room; you won’t get the same sense of space as rivals like the Honda City and Maruti Ciaz, though. Frontal visibility for rear passengers is also not the best on account of the large front seats. However, the provision of a front, as well as rear armrest, is appreciated.Other notable equipment include a tilt-and-telescopic steering adjust, automatically-dimming rear-view mirror, cruise control, cooled glovebox, climate control, rear AC vent, one-touch power windows and remote-controlled opening and closing of windows. Certain features are prominently missing, though, such as a rear camera and an engine start/stop button.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The new Skoda Rapid is available with both petrol and diesel engines. The 1.5-litre, turbocharged diesel engine in the Rapid now produces 5PS more power and the final output is 110PS.
Max power is also available 400revs lower in the range, although the overall impact on outright performance isn’t noticeable but the spread of power and torque throughout the range is likeable.The diesel unit is a strong performer; it has 250Nm of torque from 1500rpm and revs eagerly, too. The lively engine combined with the 7-speed DSG transmission proved to be a potent package, as the quick gearbox selected the right ratios to tackle whatever inclines that came our way.
Besides the power surge, Rapid’s spec-sheet also registers a slight increase of 0.06kmpl in the claimed fuel-efficiency, which now stands at 21.72kmpl for the diesel automatic version
The 1.6-litre MPI petrol engine makes 105PS of maximum power between 5200-5250rpm and delivers 153Nm of maximum torque between 3750-3800rpm. Although power figures for both the engines are closely spaced, the petrol engine doesn’t like to be hurried and gets quite audible when pushing hard.
Since it’s not a rev-happy engine, it takes time to get into the max power range and appears slower to 100kmph compared to its diesel counterpart. On-papers, however, the manual petrol Rapid is quicker than the manual diesel in the 0-100kmph run, albeit by just 0.1s.
On a positive note, the 1.6-litre, MPI engine has decent pull at the bottom end of the rev-range although maximum torque is available at 3750rpm.It is, therefore,a good ambler for leisurely runs as it doesn’t require frequent gear changes to maintain consistency.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
Skoda has definitely figured out the best balance when it comes to setting up the suspension for Indian conditions. Barring the Laura vRS, all Skoda models possess a fine balance between ride and handling and the Rapid is no different. Ride quality is a bit on the firm side but never gets intrusive unless you are traveling over real crater like potholes. The sorted damping means handling is taken care of as well and high speed endeavors are a piece of cake. The steering is well weighted and gives reasonable amount of feel even at high speeds and it’s a real joy throwing it around the corners.
Talking about safety, Skoda India is offering ABS and dual front airbags as standard across all the trims of the new Rapid. You also get Hill Hold Control and Electronic Stability Control with the DSG transmission. Skoda has had a bad reputation in India when it comes to after sales but they’ve come a long way in making the process transparent and reliable. They are also offering 4 year service car programme as standard with the new Rapid that covers 4 years warranty, 4 years of roadside assistance and an optional 4 year service package.
Thanks to modern creature comforts, good ride and a powerful diesel engine, Skoda has surely put forth a competitive package. It still has the old cars robust build and material quality is really good too. So in a way it should be just right for most buyers even if it might not exceed expectations of some. Skoda is also revamping its after-sales service and now has well thought offers for buyers. The Rapid is being offered with a four-year warranty, road-side assist and maintenance package, all-inclusive in the ex-showroom Delhi prices that start at Rs 9.49 lakh. So the competitive pricing with added benefits does make the updated Rapid a more lucrative buy.