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Skoda Rapid review
Driven November 2011
You have to watch the way you pronounce the name of this Skoda, whether that was a cheeky move or just coincidence we aren’t sure, but it sure does put the Rapid (like the regular English alternative for fast) in good company – think more English, and may be Bond. Either way, the cheekiness ends there and duplication begins. This is basically the Volkswagen Vento with a fair number of improvisations. The grille is unmistakably Skoda, with the badge sitting on the snout of the bonnet. The rest of the car has been pretty much lifted off the VW floor and brought in, including the shape of the tail lamps. However, the designers did take the trouble to put in an extra kink around the number plate holder, just to earn a bonus.
Skoda’s offering the Rapid with two-engine options – a 1.6-litre petrol and a diesel with the same capacity. Both engines even make identical horsepower at 105bhp, although the diesel makes a great deal more of torque (250Nm to the petrol’s 153Nm). Again, like the Vento you do have the option of buying the petrol powered Rapid with a 6-speed auto instead of the 5-speed manual ‘boxes that are available on both.
On the go, both engines respond well with the petrol coming alive at higher revs. Unlike most petrol cars at this end of the market, which seen neutered, the Skoda manages to hang on to the delights of a revvy petrol engine with good grunt and a thrashy top end. Diesel, however, is the way three out of four people are likely to go. It’s relaxed on the highway and has great initial pick up and, of course, there isn’t arguing with the efficiency of the motor.
Ride quality, however, on the Rapid is completely different from the Vento. The all forgiving, soft and wallowy ride makes way for stiffer springs and aggressive damping in the Rapid. It’s very similar to the sort of difference that you experience if you drive the Polo and the Fabia back-to-back.
Inside the cabin, things remain familiar in the Rapid, except for the change in colour combinations for the dash and door trim. The choco-beige sort of combo looks a bit loud for our old school tastes and the plastics are rather shiny. ABS and airbags are available on the Ambition and Elegance variants, while the entertainment system with an SD card reader is available on the top variant. Rear seat passengers get aircon vents and there’s a small lever on the front passenger’s seat which allows ‘sethji’ to push it forward for more legroom. Clever indeed.
Skoda will announce prices for the Rapid on the 16th of this month. But till then, we can speculate the Rapid becoming a favourite in the segment with its Vento proposition being delivered at a Skoda price point with a couple of improvisations which work in their favour. Prices are likely to be 20-40k less than the Vento on comparable variants which is great news for buyers who aren’t lusting after a badge.