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Rapid gets a boost under the bonnet

Debabrata Sarkar | Updated on October 09, 2014 Published on October 09, 2014

Blacked out The top-of-the-line Elegance variant now features blacked out headlamps and foglamps, a black grille, black wing-mirrors and black alloy wheels. DEBABRATA SARKAR

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The Skoda sedan gets a powertrain upgrade; just in time to take on rivals

In the four years that the Rapid has existed, Skoda has let it follow its natural course and not bothered with much more than some eye-catching options. While this seemed like a good ploy, it sort of fizzled out a bit against its rivals, most notably, the Honda City.

So, the Czech manufacturer has decided to create a bit of a stir with a new 1.5-litre TDI engine mated to the 7-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission to get their best-selling car back in contention. Apart from its stable-mate the Volkswagen Vento, only the Hyundai Verna offers a traditional four-speed automatic box, which is rather outdated, with the company’s diesel engines and this is where Skoda will hope to capitalise, especially with the efficiency of the DSG transmission.

Engine and performance

With the introduction of the 1.5-litre motor, Skoda has phased out the older 1.6-litre unit. The new engine, which also debuted on the VW Polo recently, is also available with a 5-speed manual gearbox and makes 105PS and 250Nm of torque. While the new engine is smoother and more efficient, the 7-speed DSG makes the biggest difference. Peak power is on offer at 4400 rpm, however, peak torque carries on from 1500-2500 rpm.

This, combined with the seamless power delivery through the seven-speed DSG, makes for a relaxed driving experience. You get two modes to choose from, D and S – that is drive and sport, with an option of using the tip-tronic feature in drive mode.

On the move, the new 1.5-litre diesel engine is fairly smooth and shifts cogs quickly in D to maintain maximum efficiency, which in turn makes initial response feel a bit sluggish. However, slot it into S and the responses from the engine become far crisper and revs are held much longer to let you explore the entire powerband. It gets even better when you push it hard as the flat torque curve gets the car to move with some urgency with no lag in power between shifts. If you are worried about efficiency, well, you shouldn’t because the 7-speed DSG box is not only quicker than the manual one, but also more efficient.

Cosmetic updates

Apart from this hugely significant mechanical update, the Rapid also gets a special Black Edition to add some degree of freshness.

Available on the top-of-the-line Elegance variant, the Black Edition features blacked out headlamps and foglamps, a black grille, black wing-mirrors and a fresh new design on the 15-inch black alloy wheels.

The entertainment system has also received an update and can be paired with the Skoda app on your phone to give you complete control from your phone screen. It however misses out on a touchscreen for the entertainment system.

The Rapid also gets rear parking sensors now; although they don’t offer visual guidance and you have to rely solely on the beeps. Ride and handling remain excellent on the Rapid, with the firm but comfortable ride setting it apart from the Vento, which in turn makes for good highway stability and cornering ability. Interior space too remains pretty good with enough legroom for rear seat passengers as well.

Bottomline

Quite simply, if you enjoy driving and want to own a diesel sedan with an automatic gearbox, the Skoda Rapid is pretty much in a class of one.

It’s great to use around the city and is more efficient than even a manual transmission and remains good fun to drive on the highways with a good ride and handling package.

And well, as for the dealership issues which you might have heard about in the past, rest assured that a lot of work has been done to make sure there is no repetition.

Published on October 09, 2014
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