When Skoda first started its operation in India, it was perceived as a premium brand with expensive offerings, the most popular one being the Octavia. Soon the lucrative growth of the market attracted the parent VW to set up shop in India.
As soon the German czar set foot in the Indian market, it went on a marketing blitzkrieg associating itself with cricket, Bollywood celebrities and almost everything that matters in India. The little Czech company was sidelined from picture.
The Octavia – Skoda’s star performer - suffered a massive blow with the introduction of BS4 norms in the metros. The international successor of the Octavia was already sold as Laura - a D segment sedan and was doing quite well. The hatchback Fabia wasn’t doing that bad either. So brand Octavia had to be put to a long painful sleep.
But Skoda India did not have an all rounder sedan to in the fastest growing C segment. So Skoda India decided to ring up parent VW to borrow the Vento and thus was born – Skoda Rapid. But does it have what it takes to match up in the C segment?
At first glance the Skoda Rapid looks like a Vento with a Fabia face. However, as is with these things, the devil lies in the details. The Skoda Rapid has some key differences which sets it apart from the Fabia and Vento.
The bonnet of the Rapid is slightly less raked and much longer than the Fabia. The headlamp and the fog lamps may have been lifted from the Fabia but the front bumper is redesigned and looks subtly different from the hatchback’s version. These changes were incorporated to make sure that the Rapid looks like a balanced sedan rather than a hatch with a boot (à la Swift Dzire). You will also notice that Rapid is slightly broader than Fabia when they are pitted up closely.
The huge grill with the embedded Skoda Logo and slight uprising on the hood makes the Rapid looks very masculine. The headlamps are crystal clear and mildly swept back into the side profile.
The tail-lamps feature the typical ‘C’ design that is trademark Skoda. Although, one has to admit that the Vento’s tail lamps are way cooler than Rapid’s.
The side profile is very reminiscent of the Vento. But here too Skoda India has made sure to add some finer touches. The wheel arches are relatively more flared than Vento and the new 15’ inch Antares design alloys add to the muscular stance of the Rapid. The design of the alloys add a very important zing to the Rapid’s overall design but are only available on the top variants. In the alloy wheel design department, the Rapid’s snatches the cool quotient from sibling Vento.
The alloys wheels are wrapped with fatter 185/60 R15 Apollo Accelere tires whereas the standard ones come with 175/70 R14. The 168 mm of ground clearance ensures that you will not scrape any of the under body parts on even the most XL sized speed breakers.
The electrically adjustable ORVMs are not completely body colored and do not have turn indicators. But they provide excellent visibility for overtaking maneuvers.
Coming to the rear, one notices something unique. There are two sharp lines moving to either side of the tailgate. This was a distinct characteristic of the Vision D concept showcased by Skoda at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
However, the two cuts are out-of-place and the car could have done without them. There is no chrome bar flashing on the tailgate like you get in so many sedans (read : oh thank you!). It’s a simple, plain boot with a big Skoda logo in the middle. Even the exhaust is hidden below the rear bumper to make sure that there is no nonsense gimmickry (read chrome tipped exhaust).
Overall, the Skoda Rapid is a handsome looking brute. Sure, it borrows a lot from Fabia and the Vento but the package it delivers is very much synergistic. Do tune tomorrow for the interior review and the driving impressions.