A peek into the features of Skoda Rapid
Despite its age, the this brand remains one of the nicest cars to drive in its class
It has been a few months since we first reviewed the Skoda Rapid 1.0-litre TSI turbo-petrol and found it to be a fundamentally strong proposition with a smooth and likeable engine. Now, the car-maker has added the much-awaited automatic gearbox option to its line-up, and like before, it is a 6-speed torque converter unit. But one should keep in mind that this is a new unit and has not just carried over the BS4 Rapid 1.6 petrol. So, what is it like to drive?
The variant that we tested is the Style automatic, which is positioned a notch below the Monte Carlo. While the latter has a sportier look, the Style variant gets classy chrome touches all along the body to go with its silver, 16-inch alloys. It is also available in four paint shades including a new Toffee Brown option (as seen here). On the inside, too, this one gets a beige theme, and there is a more conventional steering (not the flat-bottomed unit). Interestingly, Skoda has offered the Rapid automatic across multiple variants and priced it between ₹ 9.49-13.29 lakh (ex-showroom).
The 6-speed torque converter unit used here is the same used by Volkswagen in the Vento and Polo. This gearbox, paired to the TSI engine, feels smooth and seamless; the ratios are well judged and complement the engine’s performance. In the lower gears, it is not programmed to shift to the highest possible ratio at the earliest, so even with a light foot, it will shift at a little over 2,000rpm.
Even that initial bit of turbo lag, which is noticeable in the manual, is nicely masked by this automatic. But while cruising at 80kph, the auto will move into the sixth gear for fuel efficiency. At those speeds, even the gentlest of inputs to the accelerator will make it downshift to fifth or fourth in order to build momentum. This transition is so smooth that you build speed effortlessly without realising that there has been a gear change, unless you look at the MID reading.
What comes as a bit of a surprise is that, like the manual version, the automatic’s performance is quicker than the Vento TSI AT. This, despite sharing the same components, tune and weighing almost the same. In the Sport mode, the gearbox will keep the engine on the boil to extract maximum performance. There is also a manual mode that allows you to take over control of the gearbox.
But it is not all as perfect as it seems. While decelerating to a complete halt, the gearbox downshifts rather aggressively and the transition from third to second, in particular, is jerky.
The issue is even more pronounced in Sport mode. The car also leaps forward when you ease off the brakes from a standstill; this can catch you by surprise, so you need to carefully modulate the throttle and brakes in bumper-to-bumper traffic or while parking in a tight spot. This feeling of the car ‘running away’ is due to a high idle speed set by the company to guard against the small capacity motor stalling when it is off boost at near idle RPM.
The Rapid Rider Plus AT is the value pick in this range. Despite being the entry level variant in the automatic range, it gets equipment like one-touch operation for all four power windows, automatic climate control, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, electric mirror adjustment, and also features a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay at ₹ 9.49 lakh. The Style trim we tested, priced at ₹ 12.99 lakh, packs in additional kit such as projector headlamps, auto dimming rear-view mirror, four airbags, fog lamps, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, leatherette upholstery, rain-sensing wipers and a rear-view camera.
Despite the Rapid’s age, this Skoda still remains one of the nicest cars to drive in its class. And even though this automatic has its foibles, it is smooth and seamless for the most part, and the performance is impressive. The ₹1.50 lakh premium that it commands over the manual version is the price you pay for convenience.
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