Skoda Rapid is the much awaited sedan of the company, which is based on the platform of Vento and shares most of its components such as suspension, engine and transmission. It is a wonderful example of true art fused with technology and science. Designed to flawlessly flow with muscular frame of Rapid, the body colored mirrors are optimally placed. Its 15 inch alloy wheels are significantly more stable and lighter providing enhanced and well balanced driving dynamics. Scientifically recessed, sleek and body colored door handles make the perfect first impression of all new Rapid.
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The Skoda Rapid was officially introduced in the month of November 2011 that inherits the DNA from Volkswagen Vento. As common with other premium luxury saloons in this category, the all new Rapid cover much of broader aspects, which includes brightly illuminated information cluster, dual tone upholstery, centralized console, driver assist, adjustable seats, audio system, armrests, headrests, spacious legroom and headroom, most importantly comfort at its very best and tilt steering.
When we first looked at the Skoda Rapid, we realised that it is actually much better looking than what it seems to be in photos. With a big and prominently visible nose, the Rapid seems to be larger than the Vento also feels like striking a better balance. The grille, the headlights and the fog lamps have been totally influenced from Skoda Fabia. But it looks like some important changes are incorporated so as to have the key elements of Skoda’s face on the designing. The chin has been altered a bit and new designs have been given to the bonnet and the fenders. Once we move to the back, the major difference that one sees how varied the details on the back lights are; inspiration has been sought from Skoda’s well-known ‘C’ motif. There has been some intricate changes to the back side bumpers as well as the boot lid.
Once inside the vehicle, we found out that the cabin has designs that are very similar with the Vento, the only exception is the steering wheel, which has a distinct Skoda heritage marked all over it (steering-mounted controls are not present), audio system, gear levels and instrument panels. The Rapid is provided with an optional climate control also. The central console, which has been finished in black, stands out a bit though because there seems to have been certain mismatches in how its parts have been designed. The buttons, climate control and the vents have been inspired from the Volkswagen whereas the audio system having large fonts and buttons are an imprint of the Skoda.
The petrol variant of the Rapid is very much available, however the diesel engine model is considered to be the more important one in terms of market acceptance. The engine has adopted the same 1.6-litre unit that has been given to the Vento, hence it can automatically be inferred that the maximum power generated of 105 bhp and torque of 25.5kgm are exactly the same for both the vehicles. The motor however appears to be more refined in comparison to the Vento; while the engine does not distort when the vehicle is revved up from 1600rpm reaching a peak at 5000rpm; therefore the performance has been analyzed as very strong in the diesel version
The petrol model cannot be simply written off though. It has its key positives as well, the best part being the fantastic pick up. the petrol version has enough inherent strength to be compared favorably with the Vento and hence proves a good vehicle to drive. However, it does not peak to the level of thrills that the Honda City provides, but that is something that should not be included in this discussion, as we are comparing the Rapid against the Vento here.
The light steering in the Rapid makes it easy to drive across city roads in an almost effortless manner. We stand testimony to this fact as we negotiated the Mumbai traffic on our way to the expressway. On rough patches of road, the Rapid felt pretty comfortable, with absence of the up and down motion you associate to other cars. Whatever stiffness the vehicle has is totally compensated by its comfort to passenger type negotiation of the speed breakers and potholes, which are a characteristic of Indian roads; indeed it looked better than the Vento in this aspect. There is a sense of solidity associated with this vehicle. When travelling at peak speeds, the response from the steering was excellent and the car proved very agile in taking corners. As we went for a speed drive once we moved into the expressway, the agility of pick up, the smoothness in driving, the efficiency with which it responded to our commands simply bowled us over.
Models and Pricing:
This impressive vehicle built by Czech manufacturers, Skoda, is being launched initially with three trims – Active, Ambition and Elegance (comes with 15 inch alloy wheels, safety enhanced by side airbags for front passenger and driver). Naming of these models is a part of the new strategy of branding, the tagline that has been introduced being, “Simply clever”. Skoda Rapid Price is expected to be kept at Rs.6.7 lakhs.
A drive on the Skoda Rapid made me and my friend’s fans for life. How soon are you test driving one?