Day 3 - Skoda Rapid Driving Impressions

17/12/2011 - 10:08 | ,  ,  ,   | Kaustubh Shinde

Has the Vento’s DNA trickled into the soul of the Rapid? How is the Skoda Rapid to drive? After the Initial Impressions and Interior pictorial, let’s find out if its all face and no trousers!

Skoda Rapid frontSkoda Rapid side

What powers the Skoda Rapid?

The Rapid is powered by the same engine set on duty in the VW Vento :

  • The 1.6L TDi (Diesel) produces 104 BHP (4,400 rpm) and 250 Nm of torque (1,500 - 2,500 rpm)
  • The 1.6L MPI (Petrol) is also rated at 104 BHP (5,250 rpm) and 153 Nm of torque (3,800 rpm)

Considering the car we drove was a petrol the review restricted to petrol Rapid's performance. Don’t worry we will do a diesel review soon!

Skoda Rapid petrol engine

Fire up the engine using the key (sorry no start-stop button here), and you will notice a sudden shake with a fair amount of sound. Let the engine idle for a few seconds and all is well again. Yes, this shaky-start engine suddenly becomes one of the most refined engines in the segment.

To be honest, there is not much happening below 1,700 rpm. Once you surge past that the power is very smooth and linear. The engine is very free revving and is happy to redline once a while. 0-100 km/hr comes in 12 seconds and from there you can comfortable cruise at 130-140 km/hr on the highway without any complaints or hard revving from the engine.

In order to really strain the engine, you need to cross the 160 km/hr mark.  It has a nice sound to it which is fairly audible despite the good NVH level insulation.

The 5-speed manual gearbox does its duty very well. The gates are precise and the shifts are very slick and you don’t need to do too many downshifts for overtaking maneuvers. The golf club shaped gear knob makes the shifts a lot of fun.

An exceptional quality of the Skoda Rapid is that it is very difficult to stall the engine. The engine just refuses to let go. Whichever gear, whatever rpm, the engine just soldiers on. However, there are some vibrations when engaging the clutch which spoil the party.

Skoda Rapid rear

How does a Rapid handle?

There are two aspects to Rapid’s handling:

  • Within city limits, the Rapid handles just plain brilliantly. The electric steering wheel performs brilliantly when it comes to overtaking and parking within the city. The fatter tires on the top variant match the car’s capability. The relatively softer set up of the suspension absorbs the bumps and potholes  at the same time giving very less evidence of body roll.
  • Hitting the highways, one notices that the Rapid’s electric steering isn’t able to replicate the adequate feedback at high speed. The sharp turns suddenly expose the inherent body roll of a soft suspension set up.

The brakes coupled with ABS and Dual Rate Brake Assist are just fabulous. They are very confidence inspiring and I have absolutely no complaints in that area. However, after fair bit of spirited driving, I noticed a lot of brake dust on the alloys.

What is the fuel economy?Skoda Rapid front

Considering I had the petrol variant at hand, I managed to squeezed a maximum fuel efficiency of 12 kmpl. Average FE was around 10 kmpl. Skoda claims a figure of 15.4 km/l

What about safety?     

The Skoda Rapid is not ‘Loaded’ with safety features but it has an adequate list nonetheless. You get:

  • Dual front airbags
  • Anti-lock Braking System with Dual Rate Brake Assist
  • Fuel supply cut off during a crash

Things that I did not like:

Note: For the first time I had to really think deeper for this section

  • The clutch vibrations are annoying when engaging gears
  • There is a fair bit of wind noise at three digit speeds
  • The electric steering wheel does not weigh in at high speeds
  • The seats are too upright for my liking. After a point of time, my knees started paining

Skoda Rapid front three quarters

Yes, the Skoda Rapid is an exceptional proposition in the C sedan market. It is also going to give stiff competition to the Vento because of its cheaper price and slightly better looks (personal opinion), a point that is quite evident in the first month of booking itself when the Rapid clocked 1,600 orders.

And parent company VW is definitely laughing all the way to the bank as they managed to nearly double the sales of the same car (more or less) by simply changing the costume!

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