Skoda Rapid Onyx Review
Car Tested: Skoda Rapid Onyx Edition; Road Test No. 1054; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 11.17 - 15.08 lakhs
The Rapid Onyx is a well built and dynamically rich sedan with spacious interiors and good ride quality
The Skoda Rapid which is a rebadged version of the Volkswagen Vento has been on sale since a really long time now. Minor updates have kept coming throughout the years and the sedan also got a mid-life facelift in 2016. Now, while competition has been moving ahead, Skoda has introduced a special edition version of the Rapid which offers few tweaks (mainly cosmetic) to make the product fresher. How different is the Rapid Onyx from the regular variants? We find out.
Exteriors - The Skoda Rapid Onyx Edition gets a few embellishments to make it look more special. The black theme of the Onyx edition makes it look very sporty. You get a blackened Skoda grille, smoked-headlights, black alloy wheels, black OVRMs and a black outline on the B-pillar. The effect is quite attractive and like all German (Skoda is owned by VW) sedans, nothing on the Rapid Onyx looks overdone or out of place. We particularly like the new Lapiz blue colour option which goes very well with the black-elements.
Despite its age the Skoda Rapid still looks elegant and handsome
The rest of the design is typical Skoda with boxy proportions and few lines. We must admit that despite the design being around for so many years, it does not feel dated. The smart and understated design of the Rapid seems to have aged well.
Interiors - Step inside, close the door and one thing is certainly apparent- the quality. The interiors feel very well built and there is an everlasting sense to all the materials you touch and feel. The Onyx Edition gets dual-tone beige and black interiors which feel airy and premium. We particularly like the flat-bottom steering wheel which is good to hold and feels like it belongs to a more expensive car.
Everything is in easy reach and the slightly tilted dashboard makes the cabin feel driver-centric. The Rapid features a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The touchscreen is nice to use with crisp graphics and fast touch response. The physical buttons for the infotainment and the climate-control are tactile to operate adding to the quality quotient.
The quality of materials used and the fit and finish is truly outstanding
The front seats are supportive and well bolstered and there is adequate space in both the rows to stretch out. Clever features like a lever to adjust the front passenger seat and a nifty cup-holder below the rear AC-vents add to the convenience. Skoda has also loaded the car with a lot of convenience equipment like auto-dimming rear view mirror, one-touch power windows, cooled glovebox and armrests for both front and rear seat passengers.
Despite all its merits, you cannot escape the fact that the cabin looks a bit dated. It is an uninspiring layout which feels a touch too practical. It does without different textures, swoopy lines, mix match of elements and comes across as being too plain. We are also not a fan of the instrument cluster which looks like it belongs to an older era.
Performance - The Rapid Onyx Edition is available in both 1.6-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel powerplants with manual and automatic transmissions. The car which we have had the 1.5-litre TDI diesel motor which puts out 110 BHP and 250 Nm of torque mated to the superb DSG gearbox.
The Onyx Edition is available in both petrol and diesel engine options with manual and automatic transmissions
Start the engine and you are greeted with the usual diesel clatter. The engine is not as smooth or as refined initially as the 1.6-litre diesel in the Hyundai Verna. This is a bit of a downer but what is certainly not is the engine's brilliant performance. There is loads of low-end torque which makes the car get off the line briskly. The mid-range is so good, it almost feels sporty. The linear and unfettered manner in which the car builds torque makes it excellent on the highways. Even in urban conditions, the engine feels smooth and the turbo-lag is well masked by the DSG gearbox.
The 7-Speed DSG gearbox is a gem in itself and we would go so far in saying that it is one of the best gearboxes we've ever tested. The upshifts are bearly perceptible and the downshifts are much faster than your conventional torque-converter gearbox found in the Verna. There is also a Sport mode which makes the car hold the gear longer giving an even better response. We found the manual mode to be a little counter-intuitive as it did not let us choose the gear and continued upshifting on its own. Factor in the torquey diesel engine, this is one of those cars you wouldn't mind driving all day along. Truly, the engine and the gearbox are a match made in heaven.
Driving Dynamics - The well-built nature of the Rapid has a long-list of benefits and the very assuring highway stability is one of them. The ride is softly sprung but never does it feel floaty. There is an amazing sense of confidence when driving at high speeds. The soft ride makes the Rapid smother over the bumps and potholes with robustness. It tends to bob around a bit on the highway but it never feels like a bother.
The high speed stability of the Rapid inspires a lot of confidence
The superb stability also adds to the car's cornering prowess. There is a fair bit of body roll but the tyres grip well and the Traction Control system ensures you stay in the right line. The engine with its ever-ready nature makes chucking this car in and out of corners a breeze. What is a misfit in all this is the steering which feels a bit vague and not as consistent as we would've liked. The brakes have a fantastic bite giving great stopping power. The steering aside, the Rapid remains one of the best cars in the segment when it comes to dynamics.
Safety - Its tank-like build quality assures you that the car is quite safe. Skoda offers the Rapid with ABS and dual-airbags as a part of its standard equipment. The diesel automatic also features Electronic Stability Control while both the diesel and petrol automatics feature Hill Hold Assist. The Volkswagen Polo (upon which the Rapid is based) has scored a 4-star Global NCAP crash-test rating meaning it is quite safe.
Verdict - The Rapid Onyx Edition carries all the strengths and weaknesses of the standard car in a fancier suite. It is good to look at and blessed with an exceptional engine, superb gearbox and excellent driving dynamics. The sense of quality and the feeling of robustness is pervasive in everything that the car does. This car feels properly well engineered and this could be reason enough for many to go and buy it. Where the Rapid takes a back seat is that it comes across as being a little long in the tooth. The interiors don't feel futuristic and we would've appreciated more equipment. Also, at Rs. 12.73 lakhs, it is pricey. However, if driving pleasure is what you are after and appreciate the European quality and are ready to pay the premium, the Rapid Onyx is a compelling choice.
* Looks elegant and modest
* Spacious and well-loaded interiors which are built to last
* Powerful engine along with a responsive gearbox
* Great high-speed stability and ride quality
What's Not So Cool
* Interior feels outdated and lacklustre
* Steering could have offered more feedback
* Pricier than the competition
Skoda Rapid Onyx
Skoda Rapid Onyx Review
The Skoda Rapid Onyx is a special edition which comes with cosmetic enhancements over the regular version of the Rapid. The sedan is quite old now but still impresses when it comes to performance and looks. The interiors are also very functional but feel dated now. The Skoda Rapid makes for a good buy if you want a punchy diesel auto with the build quality of the German car and don’t mind paying the premium.