First Launched in 2011, the Skoda Rapid compact sedan didn't really make waves as far as sales go. But what it did do was make a sedan from the brand accessible, so you'd think of it as the Octavia's younger sibling, maybe. But we at carandbike have a very strong connection with the car because the compact sedan made its global debut on our show back in 2011 and it was quite a celebration we had on air. Nine years later, nothing much has changed except maybe the facelift it received in 2016. But besides that, the Rapid has not had any changes in terms of looks.
Also Read: Skoda Rapid 1.0 TSI Launched In India
We first got to see the updated model at the Auto Expo 2020 and back then we told you that there weren't many changes in terms of looks. However, we got to check out the Monte Carlo variant of the Rapid which sits right on top of the 5 variants that are offered on the car. The Monte Carlo variant draped in the Flash Red colour, looks distinctively different and definitely stands in terms of looks. Everything from the signature butterfly grille coloured in black, gloss black mirrors, quartz-cut projector headlights, and LED daytime running lights are a magnet for attention. The use of the black design elements can be seen on sides and rear sections as well. The Monte Carlo edition also gets a set of new dual-tone 16-inch alloy wheels with glossy black bolt covers. The company also offers 15-inch wheels on the Rider and the Ambition variant, while the rest get 16 inchers. Adding a bit of pizzaz to it all is the glossy black décor on the B pillars with Monte Carlo flag badge. The black roof foil and the black tailgate spoiler add to the overall look but yes, the black makes it look meaner. So, in a way, the design has aged well and it still looks handsome out on the road. Given the fact that there's a new, more powerful engine under the hood, this look just adds to the overall appeal. Having said that, the engine is the biggest update of them all.
Engine And Transmission
We say that because now the Rapid will only be available with a petrol engine. A more powerful one at that. It's the most powerful the Rapid has gotten in the petrol avatar and that too with a displacement of just 999cc. There's 109 bhp on offer and though that figure might be lower when compared to a couple of its rivals when behind the wheel, there's not a single occasion when you feel that it's underpowered. The 1-litre TSI offers 5 bhp more than the 1.6-litre engine it replaces. There's 20 Nm more torque as well than before. With 175 Nm of pulling power, you expect the Rapid, to give chase to the more powerful cars out there and it does that with ease. The engine is refined and gets even more so, once you gain speed. It's the same engine as the one we've seen on the new Polo and even the Vento, in fact and we are going to see more of this engine on cars from the Skoda and Volkswagen stable.
There's a certain punch to the engine and you enjoy every bit of it. However, it's the initial acceleration where there's a lag. Anything below 2400 rpm, and you just feel it won't take off. But once the needle crosses the 2500 rpm mark, it all just comes together. It's a different animal altogether when that turbo kicks in and an absolute hoot to drive. Mind you there is a bit of engine noise that seeps in at higher rpms, but the fact that it can easily redline and even make it to the 6700 rpm mark without any signs of running out of breath, blows your mind away. The six-speed manual transmission is standard and the gear shifts are smooth and a delight in traffic or even highway conditions. The gear ratios are well spaced out too and that's why there's a strong mid-range that the Rapid has, so the turbo stays engaged longer and that's why you really won't feel the need for more power in this one. In fact, it's economical too as it provides more than 18 kmpl. It's enough to knock your socks off, have a smile on your face and never trade that driver's seat with anyone.
Also Read: Skoda Rapid 1.0: New vs Old
Ride And Handling
The fact that you'd not want to get out from the driver's seat paints a picture about how well it does in the ride and handling department. The flat-bottomed steering wheel (which is not standard), makes it easier to grip and not to forget, give it that sporty appeal. But it's a point and shoot attitude that we love about the car. It's an absolute delight. It goes where you want to go and is quick to respond. It does feel heavier at low speeds, but weighs up pretty well as you cross the three digit mark. The clutch is nice and light and the gearbox itself is a delight because the throws are short. So when, you take it to the hills, well, it's an absolute hoot. This is probably where you understand and identify it as a car that's meant for enthusiasts and it's here that you understand its lineage. Taking on rough roads is no problem for the Rapid too, it takes everything in its stride. But given that the suspension is tuned on the harder side, there is a bit of kick back in the cabin and you do feel those big potholes on the road.
Cabin And Features
While the ride and handling department may have gained significant brownie points for the Rapid, the cabin as also the feature offerings are nowhere close to what its rivals have to offer. There is absolutely no change in the cabin as compared to the 2011 model. The seats are well-bolstered but cars like the City, Verna and even the Ciaz have it better. The changes, of course, are minimal and the one you notice immediately after you get into the car is the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Now, this is a system that comes with Android connectivity and is made specifically for the Indian market. You will not find this system on any other Rapid globally. It is intuitive and extremely simple to use. To connect your phone with the system, however, you need to use a third-party app, which means that you'll have to download an app on your phone. The answer to the question of the system having Android Auto and Apple CarPlay or even MirrorLink connectivity is simple- No, it doesn't. And that, in my opinion, is a step back. Given that most of its rivals are already in the connected car zone, the Rapid just about manages to tiptoe in this segment but doesn't really go toe-to-toe with them.
However, it is commendable and noteworthy what the base variant of the Rapid (Rider) packs in. It gets a 2 Din system, with a CD player, there's climate control, front and rear electrically operated windows, electrically operated ORVMs and a lot more. On the safety front to dual front airbags and ABS are standard. The Rapid then is pretty well equipped compared to its rivals especially for the base variant. But then again, as you move to the top, you really wish there was more on offer. While you do get features like auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, tilt-telescopic steering, rear ac vents, auto-dimming inside mirror, rear-view camera, the Rapid misses out on quite a few of them. This includes a sunroof, LED headlamps, ventilated seats, wireless charging and generous amounts of USB ports. It's not as if there aren't any but there's just one and that one is in the glove box. You do get 12V charging points, up front and the rear, though. However, that does little to make up for the lack of legroom and knee room in the rear seat.
The Rapid undercuts all its rivals as the base variant starts at ₹ 7.49 lakh (ex-showroom India) and if you always wanted to buy one, it's more accessible than ever before. In fact, it is the most affordable compact sedan out there. To give you an idea, the base variant of the Rapid is ₹ 1.82 lakh cheaper than the Hyundai Verna, ₹ 82,000 cheaper than the Ciaz, ₹ 2.42 lakh more affordable than the Honda City and ₹ 1.37 lakh more economical than the Toyota Yaris. So, the Rapid certainly has a lot going for it in terms of price.
Skoda has made a strong statement with the new Rapid. It's done away with the diesel engine and that's a bold step. But the renewed focus on introducing more petrol models to the line-up and giving the 4 years Skoda maintenance, assist and warranty package, just gives you a perspective of how the company wants to make the new Rapid a value for money proposition. Yes, it has bargained on features and there's no automatic available yet, but that equation will change in the next couple of months. The Rapid with the 1-litre TSI offers more bang for your buck and is probably the most fun to drive compact sedan out there.