Earlier this month, Skoda gave the Rapid a much-needed facelift. Now for us to have a go, the company has very kindly brought us to beautiful Mussoorie. Adding to the scenic beauty of the place, our route to the hotel was a lovely mix of heavy traffic, empty straights, and lots of twisties, which is great to see what a car can really do. And I am truly impressed.
The Rapid continues to be available with two engine options: a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre petrol (104 bhp and 15.6 kgm) and a 1.5-litre diesel (108.5 bhp and 25.5 kgm). The 1.6 MPi petrol at our disposal has a peppy motor, which sounds better the more you rev it. Of course, the lack of torque under 2500 RPM is a bummer, but it is an extremely fun engine at higher revs. The 1.5 TDi, on the other hand, has low-down torque but loses out on the fun factor the petrol offers (higher up in its rev range). It must be noted that since the latter also gets an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (apart from the standard 5-speed manual), it is quite a popular choice.
One must also keep in mind that the new Rapid is essentially a facelift, albeit a big one, so mechanical changes are minimal. What is new, though, is the suspension set up, which is frankly the highlight of this car now. Soft and pliant, it absorbs bad roads with a very refined damping — such a vast improvement over the old one. That, without hampering the overall handling balance of the car, is quite an achievement. Good going, Skoda!
Visually, it looks more aggressive (and finally gets rid of the older Fabia-derived front-end), sure, but to be blunt, it’s now almost a mini Octavia. Personally, I’m not a fan of this recent trend of all cars from a brand looking the same, with only size distinguishing them. Inside, the new infotainment system is new, and it has been working flawlessly. Bluetooth is hassle-free, and sound quality is pretty good, too. All in all, the cabin is a nice, comfortable place to be in.
I still have a lot more time to spend with the Rapid, and I’m sure that will provide deeper insights into it, but this is what I think of the Skoda so far. I really like it!
Read more about the Rapid in the December issue of Motoring World. Prices for the new Skoda Rapid start at Rs 8.35 lakh, ex-showroom, Maharashtra.