The Little Red Riding Hood in the hills of Uttarakhand.
Skoda Auto is the fastest growing car company in Europe. They introduced themselves in early 2002 to the Indian market with their first offering, the Octavia, which received a lot of success. This was followed by the Superb, where they targeted the Indian premium luxury sedan market as their top of the line model. After almost a successful decade in India, they set sight on the entry level sedan segment by introducing Rapid in India in 2011. The Rapid was surly one step ahead at that time of the competition in terms of safety, quality, strong European looks and very frugal engine options that they offered. The Rapid was also known for its pleasurable and driver-oriented driving dynamics in its segment, and it set a benchmark for its Japanese and Korean rivals.
Now Skoda has taken the Rapid to the next level. Made it far better than its predecessors, in terms of design ergonomics, engine and transmission options.
We drove the all new Rapid from Dehradun to Mussoorie, on beautifully scenic, hilly roads which took us through the picturesque mountains of Uttarakhand, to get you this first hand report on Skoda’s latest for India.
Food For Thought
Skoda introduced the Rapid in India in 2011. Globally the Rapid was Skoda’s vintage car model built in 1935. There also was a Skoda Rapid that was built in the 1980s. The Indian Rapid uses the PQ25 platform from the Volkswagen family and shares the spares bin with its cousin, the Volkswagen Vento.
The New Skoda Rapid has become much more dynamic, modern and classy. The all new face that the New Rapid gets is a lot like the larger Octavia’s. Sharp-toothed butterfly style grill in all black, family design extended grill outline and the Skoda logo smartly placed in between, on the extended bonnet that’s tipped out to accommodate it. The headlights get sharp new detailing and design with quartz-cut projector glow, chrome eyelashes and multi LED day time running lights in white, making the face look very premium and contemporary. The bonnet gets the sharp family character line with the Skoda logo on it in the center. The front bumper gets a redesigned wide honeycomb design air dam and also houses new, shaped fog lamps in black glossy housing. The side profile looks like the predessor to an extent, except for a few changes. On the sides, you get the door handles in body color with a dash of metallic striping to give it that premium look and feel. The windows come with the blacked out frames. The Rapid drives on 185/60 R15 spec Apollo tubeless tyres mounted on thick five spoke silver alloys. On the rear the tail lights continue to get the C shape reflector design in them, but now have a better and different glow on them. The rear also gets a neat and sharp integrated lip spoiler on the boot lid. This lid also gets a thick chrome band on its lower section.
Skoda has lately taken their design philosophy to the next level on their entire line up,with new, edgier and sharper body lines, which are seen also on the new Skoda Rapid.
Under their skin, Skodas have always had an upper hand with tank-like build quality. The New Rapid comes with 100% galvanized steel chassis, body, laser welding and a 11-step paint and corrosion process, which should help improve the life of the car.
Build quality on the outside is very good and typical Skoda level with top class paint job as well.
The cabin of the All New Rapid gets a major refresh, and now comes in a dual tone color combination of beige upholstery and a black dashboard that looks outstandingly premium. The car gets its seats in perforated leather upholstery, and the rear seat comes with a foldable armrest. The 3-spoke steering gets neat tin inserts of chrome lines defining it. Steering-mounted controls add on to the premium feature list and the steering can be manually adjusted for height and reach. The dashboard gets an all new 6.5 inch touch screen infotainment system which comes with options of phone mirroring for Apple ios (Apple CarPlay), as well as android devices (MirrorLink). The instrument cluster is made up of round dials for the speedo and rpm, and a monochrome LCD MFD screen in between the dials that reads out the much-needed info readings. The aircon is a single zone unit with a blower for the rear passengers mounted between the front two seats. The large glove box can be converted into a cooled compartment when needed, by simply twisting the dial inside it. Seats in the front offer excellent comfort and support, and the rear ones do not fail to impress either, with a pair of adjustable headrests and a foldable armrest. Lots of cubby holes, storage space and can/bottle holders available in here. An adjustable armrest with storage under it is an driver’s delight. There is good overall headroom and decent amount of legroom for its class and segment.
On the safety feature list the Rapid comes with dual air bags, ABS, ESC, HHC (hill hold control) adjustable seat belt height and anti-pinch power windows as standard, not forgetting the rain sensing wipers which are also a part of the safety feature for many. The boot space remains at 460 litres, which is not the best in its class (Honda City leads the segment with 510 litres).
A well-laid out cabin using premium quality material and excellent fit and finish, is how we can describe the cabin in a single line.
The Skoda Rapid comes in two engine and two transmission options to choose from. The Diesel motor on this one is the updated 1.5 litre TDI unit that now makes 110PS and has 250Nm of torque on it. You have this engine with either a 5-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG Automatic option.
The Petrol motor powering this car is a 1.6 litre MPI DOHC 16 valves engine with 105PS on tap and 153Nm of torque on it. The gasoline engine Rapid comes with either a 5-speed manual or a 6-sped automatic transmission with tiptronic.
How is it to drive?
The New Skoda Rapid 1.5 tdi with manual gear box is amazing to drive. And it feels extremely gripping on tight corners. Its ride quality is good and the passengers on the rear seats experience a comfortable feel. The suspension setup is unchanged and does a mighty good job in absorbing every bump on the road effortlessly.
We drove 1.5 TDI with manual 5 speed transmission from Dehradun to Mussoorie. The Power band of 1.5 tdi engine kicks in at 1650RPM, initially there is a bit of turbo lag till the 1600 RPM, that’s when the engine starts showing its true colors with surprisingly amazing and sharp power delivery. Phenomenal acceleration takes this little red riding hood from 0-100 in 10.2 seconds, which is quite amazing. The brakes are well-balanced and have a neat bite to them. The Steering is very well-weighted and offers a strong feedback at all speeds. We had a spin with the DSG automatic variant too. This is easily one of the best automatic transmissions currently in the country, the 7-speed dual clutch unit is plain flawless. The shifts are super smooth and go totally unnoticed. Power delivery is very quick, thanks to the quick, intelligent shifts that the smart unit is programmed to make.
The petrol version of the Rapid we drove was the automatic one. The Rapid Petrol comes with a regular torque convertor transmission. This is a much slower transmission as compared to the DSG unit that the diesel gets. If you want to make things faster shifting to the tiptronic mode helps hasten up the shifts to an extent and gives you a lot more control on the shifting part, while giving you freedom to use the power-band in a better way.
The suspension setup remains identical to the older Rapid and does a mighty good job here too. The handling is pretty neat on the New Rapid and it just loves to be driven hard and put in corners, bringing a big smile to your face.
The Rapid now comes in three trim levels to choose from, active, ambient and style, in the combination of 10 trim options to choose from.
Well the question to be asked is, should you buy one?
The Skoda Rapid was always a very good car with excellent packaging and benchmarked in its segment for long. There were service and after sales issues that spoilt the party for Skoda. Now Skoda is offering an unmatched 4 year/60,000kms zero-cost maintenance package, where you can get your car serviced at every 15,000kms or 1 year interval at a total cost of Rs.29,999. This could very well be the icing on the cake, a cake that you would want to get much before your birthday!
2017 Skoda Rapid Photo Gallery:
Photography Credits: Amogh Tawre