One of the most awaited sedans in India, the Skoda Rapid is the best kept secret in the industry. Very little information is available about this car on the internet and hardly any automotive journos know what the outcome will be.
It all started with the Octavia - Skoda’s bread winner and brand sculptor in India. The Octavia established the Skoda’s presence in India and made way for other premium products such as the Laura (internationally the second generation Octavia) and Superb.
However, after the compulsion of BS4 norms in major Metros, the Skoda Octavia’s sales started dwindling in India. Fortunately, the Laura showed no such decline and continued to be the segment favorite.
With a lack of a replacement for the Octavia, Skoda decided not to refine the engine to BS4 norms and let the Octavia brand slowly and steadily die in India. This created a huge gap in the product portfolio of Skoda India because there was no Skoda car was present between the Fabia and the Laura.
The Fabia costs around 5 lakhs and the Laura will set you back by 13-14 lakhs. But between 5 Lakhs and 14 lakhs there was nothing to choose from.
Rumors started circulating that Skoda was working on an Octavia replacement - dubbed as the Felicia for international markets. Common sense dictated that the car would make its way to India to revive the Octavia brand. There were even spyshots circulating on the internet of a test mule from the VW family spotted in Sweden. But Skoda India had some other plans.
Struck by a brainwave, Skoda India decided that what India needs is a C segment sedan – A Skoda Rapid. The company decided to build a new car grounds up just for the Indian and its neighboring markets. Using the Volkswagen Vento as the base, which is a stretched Polo platform, Skoda India started working on this mystery sedan.
There were many rumors that Rapid will take its design cue from the Vision D concept which debuted at the Geneva Motorshow in March 2011. However, Skoda India wanted to play it safe with the Rapid. They have decided to take the design cues from the current Laura. The traditional Skoda grill and a central bulge on the bonnet will be present on the Rapid.
Skoda Rapid spy shots
There was no lack of engine options for the Rapid. Skoda India settled on the same petrol and diesel engines that power the Vento (a strategy previously seen on the face lifted Fabia). Mated to a 5 speed manual, 1.6 MPI and the 1.6 TDI will be placed in the Rapid, so do expect 100+ horses from both engines. An automatic variant may also be presented in the near future, and the company can explore smaller engines such as the 1.4-liter petrol expected on the Vento.
Of course, the Skoda Rapid will be placed in the market in such a way that it will not cannibalize the sister Vento. With the global strategy being Skodas are always cheaper than VWs, we can expect the Rapid to start from about 6.5 lakh rupees. Having said that, the top end model may cost over 10 lakh rupees. It will be shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
The Skoda Rapid will compete against a lot of potent cars such as – Honda City, Fiat Linea, soon-to-come Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Verna and even the Maruti SX4. Will it cause a dramatic shakedown in the market or will customers continue buying the Vento from VW dealerships even though a cheaper variant is available at Skoda? Only time will tell.
Rendering from the desk of Christiaan Abbing alias Yellow Cab