Introduction: A made-for-India car, Skoda Rapid was first launched in 2011 at a starting price of Rs 6.75 lakhs. Carrying underpinnings from the Volkswagen Vento (another made-for-India car which is based on Polo hatchback), the idea was to increase company’s portfolio and sales. This worked to an extent. Within months of its launch, Rapid replaced Fabia as Skoda India’s best selling car in the country.
By June 2012, Rapid’s monthly sales were averaging about 2,500 units. But thereafter, sales started to decline at a steady pace. Today, Rapid sales averages about 1,000 units monthly. So what went wrong, with a product which couldn’t have been priced better? It was the after sales. Many Rapid owners were not happy with after sales service and as unhappy owners shared their stories with prospective buyers, the sales continued to decline. Now, with the launch of new Rapid DSG, Skoda India promises to offer an improved after sales experience.
Exteriors: We expected Skoda to bring the Rapid DSG with a few minor updates, like bringing it in line with their new face. But that has not been the case. Rapid continues to be the same as earlier. The only difference you see is the new logo and new 15 inch alloys. Apart from that, there is an option if you want to make your Rapid stand apart from the rest.
Offered in two trims – Ambition+ and Elegance, Rapid DSG also comes with a Black Package, exclusive to the latter trim. This package will give you all black grille, smoked projector headlamps, blacked foglamps, black ORVMs, and black alloys. This will cost you about Rs 20,000 more. Apart from this, you can also get black roof, and side foils from the dealer at an additional price.
Interiors: Layout of the interiors remains same. Offered in the same brown and beige colour scheme, dashboard and instrument panel are a bit revised and looks more premium. What’s new is the DSG gear stick and three spoke steering wheel (instead of the four spoke) with controls. The air vents also get chrome surround. The touch and feel of the head unit has also been improved considerably.
The unit also gets new display font, like the new Polo. Unlike green back light, this one gets white back light. This display also acts as a screen for park assist camera. The head unit is also compatible with Bluetooth, USB, and AUX. Skoda has also developed a Android and iOS app, which if downloaded and connected to your Rapid, controls the audio system of the car via Bluetooth. New Skoda Rapid also gets card holder (placed right below the centre AC vents) and automatic climate control. The cabin is cooled very quickly, even on a hot day.
Instrument panel has two dials, one showing speed and the other engine rpm. LCD display in the centre of the two, shows time, DTE, fuel level, mileage, and much more. New Skoda Rapid DSG also comes with Cruise Control, which can be activated by pressing the left stalk behind the steering wheel. The toggle switch for MDI is on the right stalk.
Front seats offer good comfort and adequate support for thighs, head and back. Offered only in fabric (no option for leather), and that too in beige colour, the seats tend to collect dirt very easily. It is best to install seat covers as soon as you have bought the car. Rear seats also offers good comfort. For the comfort of rear passengers, there are now rear AC vents and centre arm-rests. Though designed for two passengers at the rear, you can fit in a third, but this will only make the journey uncomfortable for all three of the rear passengers.
The driver arm-rest is very useful and offers added support on long drives. But the same arm-rest is a problem when you are to use the handbrake. Head-room is no problem, while the seat’s height is adjustable. There is also a cup holder under the rear AC vents.
Speaking about storage space inside the cabin, there is plenty of it. All four doors have enough space to hold 1 litre bottles, and in addition to that there is space to put keys, phones, etc. On the centre dash, under the AC controls there is space to keep your belongings like keys, receipts, change, etc. Two cup holders are also present there. There is space under the centre arm rest as well. For your luggage, the 460 litres of boot space is more than enough for a weekend getaway. Under the boot, you will also find spare wheel, tool kit and first-aid kit.
Engine and Performance: DSG is offered only with Skoda Rapid diesel, which is powered by a 1.5l diesel TDI. This engine is the same, but a downsized variant of the previous 1.6l mill (power and torque figures remain unchanged). This has been made possible due to a reduced bore of approximately 2.5 mm. Generating 105 PS power at 4,400 rpm and peak torque of 250 Nm in the range of 1,500 – 2,500 rpm, Skoda claims the Rapid DSG delivers 21.6 kmpl. During our test drive, we managed to claim an impressive 15.1 kmpl. In real world conditions, we expect the car to deliver 18 kmpl without much compromise.
The seven speed DSG gearbox works like a charm. It offers quick upshifts and downshifts without any fuss, everytime. The gearbox is very intelligent and responds efficiently to your driving style. There are two driving modes on offer. D – Drive and S – Sport. In D mode, the gearbox changes gears at ease, but that does not mean there is no power in this mode. You get enough power to have a good acceleration and overtake on highways in this mode itself. What happens in S mode is that the gear shifts happen only at red-line, thereby giving you better acceleration. You can also shift gears manually in the D-Triptronic mode.
The Skoda Rapid DSG, as its predecessor is a well balanced car. It easily maintains its composure in all sorts of situations, even the tricky one’s. The fantastic this is, you wont even know which was a tricky situation, that’s how easily this car handles. The steering weighs well, only at high speeds it becomes like a robot, as such there is no feedback at that time. In normal driving conditions, the steering gives good feedback. Be it city or highway or winding roads, the car handles well.
Only problem is the suspension setting, which are on the stiffer side. Though this is good for highways, for city, which has potholes, the vertical bumps are met with a thud if you are a little faster than normal. This is very uncomfortable for rear passengers. Another issue is the projector headlight. We did not find it impressive on the highway.
Built quality is very impressive, and the car gives you the feeling of being secured inside. Speaking about security, the Rapid DSG comes with dual airbags, ABS, Hill Hold and Electronic Stability Control. NVH levels too are good. There is a slight sound of the diesel clutter at idle which seeps into the cabin, but once you are moving, there is no sound from the engine.
Verdict: Its been more than 3 years since Skoda India launched Rapid sedan. In these three years, the segment has seen two major launches – Honda City diesel and Maruti Ciaz. Both have replaced Hyundai Verna from the top of the sales chart in the segment. Considering this, Skoda should worked a bit more and launched a Rapid facelift, instead of just giving it a DSG with 1.5l diesel. This was a chance they could have brought the Rapid under the new design language, which is now seen on the Fabia, Octavia, and soon on the Superb.
Today, the competition offers many more features in a similar price tag. This includes touchscreen with AVN, LEDs, start/stop button, and keyless entry. Though this will be sorely missed, the Skoda Rapid has one thing which is enough to attract buyers, a DSG gearbox coupled to a fantastic 1.5l TDI, which easily is a benchmark in this segment. As for our earlier question, is the car worth the price tag, totally!
Why would you buy Skoda Rapid DSG
– Comfort and Mileage
Why would you not buy Skoda Rapid DSG
– After sales service
– Missing features as compared to segment rivals
Skoda Rapid Techspecs