We’ve just driven the new Skoda Rapid on the outskirts of Jaipur, Rajasthan. It may be very similar to the car it is based on, the VW Vento, but there are a few key differences.
Pictures don’t quite do justice to the Rapid and it definitely looks better in the metal. The Skoda nose is large and prominent and makes the car look bigger and more balanced than the Vento. The headlights, grille and fog lamps come from the Skoda Fabia, and the key modifications to incorporate the Skoda face into the design are the new bonnet, new fenders and the mildly altered chin. At the rear, the major difference is the detailing on the tail lamps, which adopt Skoda's characteristic 'C' motif. There are also subtle changes to the boot lid and the rear bumper.
On the inside, the cabin is almost identical to its VW counterpart, apart from the Skoda family steering wheel (which has no steering-mounted controls), instrument panel, gearlever and audio system. The model we are driving has climate control too. Finished in black, the central console, however, stands out because there is some mismatch in the design of its parts. The vents, buttons and climate control come from VW, while the audio system, with its large buttons and fonts, is clearly Skoda.
It will also be available with a petrol engine, but the diesel is the more important engine option and that is the one we have driven. It’s the same 1.6-litre unit as in the Vento, making an identical 105bhp and 25.5kgm of torque.
The motor feels slightly more refined than in the Vento and power delivery is quite linear. The engine pulls cleanly from 1600rpm and all the way to 5000rpm, great for a diesel, and the performance is quite strong.
The petrol 1.6 also performs slightly better. The motor feels more responsive and more eager to rev in general. The midrange is just as strong as the VW Vento and this slight increase in enthusiasm makes the petrol Vento quite nice to drive too. It’s no Honda City, but it isn’t dull either.
The steering is light and makes driving effortless around town. Over undulating surfaces, the ride is pretty flat and there’s none of that annoying pitching motion you get with the Vento. It has a slightly hard edge when going over larger bumps though, especially large craters, but the benefits in handling more than make up for the slight stiffness. The Rapid feels rock solid at speed; the steering gives you a reasonable amount of feel even at high speeds and the Skoda is pretty agile in corners too.
The impressive Rapid will be available in three trims – Active, Ambition and Elegance, the last of which gets 15-inch alloy wheels and driver and passenger airbags. These new variant names are part of a revised branding system for Skoda, which also includes the company’s tagline, ‘Simply Clever’. Now all the Rapid needs to be a success is a competitive price.
Also watch: Skoda Rapid video review