Earlier this year, when we drove the 2020 Skoda Rapid BS6 sedan, we told you that the car offered a great value proposition. It came with a small displacement, yet powerful 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine, offered several decent creature comforts, and it's right now the most affordable compact sedan in the market. However, back then, the only thing the BS6 Rapid was missing was an automatic transmission option. We had told you that the company plans to launch one in September 2020, and Skoda did exactly that. Last month, Skoda launched the Rapid automatic in India, and we recently got a chance to test the car as well.
What It Gets?
Now, when the VW Group announced its engine and transmission line-up for the BS6 regime, the main agenda of the company was to make its cars more cost-effective, and, at the same time, maintain the fun factor. The first step in that process was to introduce a smaller displacement turbocharged engine, which is the new 1.0-litre TSI engine that also powers the Rapid manual, along with Volkswagen's Polo and Vento. The second part of the plan was to introduce this new cost-effective torque converter automatic unit, as a replacement for the much-loved, yet more expensive 7-speed DSG automatic transmission.
Also Read: Skoda Rapid 1.0-Litre TSI Review
How It Performs?
Now, we told you this back then, and, we are saying this again, the new 1.0-litre engine is completely a hoot to drive. The motor is tuned to churn out the same 108 bhp, around 5000 to 5500 rpm, while the peak torque output stands at 175 Nm. Now the spec sheet says that the torque kicks in from 1750 rpm, going up to 4000 rpm, however, like in the manual version, here too, the engine really opens up only around the 2,500-rpm mark. That's when the turbo kicks in and from there on it feel like a different beast altogether, achieving triple-digit speeds in no time.
Being a three-pot motor, it does lack a bit of refinement, but you get used to it very soon, what continues to stick out like a sore thumb is the turbo lag at lower revs, which makes driving the car in city traffic a bit underwhelming. This was more prominent in the manual version of the car, but now, with the addition of the new automatic transmission, it has become that much easier to live with.
As for the new automatic gearbox, the 6-speed unit is quick and responsive, and certainly fun to drive. Yes, it's not as precise and engaging as the older DSG unit, but for a torque converter, this is certainly one of the best ones I have experienced so far. In fact, if you haven't driven the older Rapid, with the DSG unit, then you are likely to become an instant fan of the new transmission. There is a sport mode as well and here the shift becomes a bit more aggressive, and the car too feels a lot quicker, but, at the same time, you also feel some of the jerks inside the cabin when the shifts happen, and you have to live with that. However, it is not a deal-breaker. In fact, for the most part of it, I was driving the car only in the sport mode. However, if you want to make the drive a bit more engaging, you do get a manual mode as well, and you can use the Tiptronic function to upshift or downshift. But you don't get paddle shifters, and that's a big miss in my books.
How It Handles?
The Skoda Rapid has always been a great handling car, and nothing has changed in that department. The suspension is set a bit on the stiffer side, so you do feel some of the bigger undulations on the road when diving in lower speeds, but when you are doing higher speeds, the car just glides over them like nobody's business. The steering wheel too has a nice heft to it and weighs up nice when doing high speed, imparting more confidence in the driver, however, we wish Skoda had offered the flat-bottom steering wheel as standard, instead of just in the Onyx and Monte Carlo trims.
What It Looks Like?
On the exterior front, the 2020 Rapid automatic does not get any new cosmetic updates. However, compared to the manual version of the car we drove in June, which was the top-spec Monte Carlo trim, this one here is the Style variant, which is slightly different in terms of styling. While most of the features are same, there are few visual differences like - a chrome surround for the black butterfly grille, and new 16-inch Clubber style wheels, instead of Stratos dual-tone alloys. Also, instead of the blacked-out roof and the rear spoiler, you get body-coloured treatment. The rest of the feature like the projector headlamps, with daytime running lights, foglamps, and smoked taillamps remain unchanged. However, seeing some of the rivals, Skoda should have at least gone with LED projectors.
What It Offers?
Similarly, the cabin too gets the same design and features, however, compared to the all-black interior you saw in our previous review, this Style variant gets dual-tone beige & black treatment. While the car misses out on the sporty, contrast red stitching, it still gets a faux leather-wrapped multi-functional steering wheel and gear lever, along with premium beige upholstery, also wrapped in faux leather. Rest of the features remain unchanged, including the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which is a tablet-style android-based unit offering smartphone connectivity, navigation, video playback and a host of other apps including Google Play Store and Maps.
However, like the manual version, this too misses out of a few basic features like an engine start-stop button or dashboard-mounted charger. Oh, and if you remember the USB and AUX-IN ports are still inconveniently placed inside the glovebox. There are foldable centre armrests for both front and rear passengers for additional comfort, while safety features include - ABS, electronic stability control, hill hold assist, rear parking camera with sensors, cruise control and rain-sensing wipers. Compared to the Monte Carlo trim, this Style trim gets two additional side airbags as well.
Should You Buy It?
With prices starting at ₹ 9.49 lakh, going up to ₹ 13.29 lakh, the Skoda Rapid continues to be the most affordable automatic compact sedan in the market. In fact, next to the Toyota Yaris, it offers the highest number of automatic variants in this class, starting from the Rider Plus trim and above. While it might fall short in terms of some of the modern creature comforts that models like the Honda City and the Hyundai Verna offers, the Rapid makes up for that with its strong build, enjoying driving manners, and with a very engaging automatic transmission.
The Vento offers those too, however, it only gets the automatic option in the top-end variants, and the entry-level Rapid automatic is ₹ 2.61 lakh cheaper. So, if you want a premium sedan with all the latest bells and whistles or even a diesel option for that matter, then the Rapid is not the car for you. However, if you are looking for a capable automatic petrol sedan with decent features and do not mind cranking the key to start your car instead of pushing a button, then the Skoda Rapid, is still a worthy option.