It’s that time for Skoda that its office must be full of mixed emotions. On one side, the Octavia is piling on sales numbers much faster than even Skoda had expected. In fact, it’s so much that they’re selling them faster than they can make them; and hence the long waiting period.
On the other side, the Rapid is not leaving the dealerships at the rate they expected it to. Two major reasons for this – the Honda City and the Hyundai Verna. To give you a perspective, let us throw some numbers at you, something that we’d normally not do – Skoda struggled to find even 1,000 buyers for the Rapid whereas more than 7,000 Honda Citys found homes in February 2014.
To fight the stiff competition from the Verna and the City, Skoda has given the Rapid a few cosmetic updates. The visual change that’ll matter to you in the MY2014 model is that it now gets projector headlamps and the change that won’t make much of a difference to you and me is that it now sports the new Skoda badge.
The changes are not restricted only on the outside – it gets a multi-function steering wheel with audio controls and the multimedia system gets USB input with Bluetooth connectivity, something that the Rapid should have had in the first place itself. Along with that, the middle variant of the Rapid gets a passenger airbag and a leather package.
Mechanically nothing changes on the Rapid and it continues to be powered by a 1.6-litre petrol or a 1.6-litre diesel powerplant – both of which develop 103 horses. Both come with a five-speed manual gearbox, with a six-speed auto ’box option available on the petrol. The Rapid has always been a decent handler and the ride too has been sorted. The MY2014 model continues to do that.
The petrol Rapid starts at Rs 7.28 lakh and goes up to Rs 9.79 lakh, while the diesel starts at Rs 8.47 lakh and goes up to 9.85 lakh (all prices ex-showroom, Mumbai), which makes it almost as expensive as most of its competition.
Sure, the Rapid looks Plain Jane compared to its competition, but it has strong driving dynamics and potent drivetrains. But the numbers suggest that the driving dynamics are failing to catch the fancy of too many buyers – something that the MY2014 model is trying to change with its added features and cosmetic changes.
4cyl, 1598cc, 103bhp, 230Nm, 5M, FWD, 0-100kph: 10.9sec, Mileage: 14.5 kpl (overall)
Rapid was always sorted with its ride and handling. This update gives it more features and tweaked styling, which can only be a good thing