Skoda Rapid TSI Test Drive Review
We do an in-depth review of the Skoda Rapid TSI.
Car Tested: Skoda Rapid 1.0 TSI Monte Carlo; Road Test No. 1194; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 8.72 – 13.91 lakhs
The Skoda Rapid gets a new turbocharged petrol engine while it retains its core fundamentals and styling
Small capacity turbo petrol engines are the flavour of the season. There was a point of time when most mass-market cars used to come with naturally aspirated petrol engines but now it looks like turbo engines are the way forward. What we have here is technically a decade-old car but under the hood, it has a brand new 1.0 TSI engine.
Exteriors – On the outside, not much has changed over the years. The Rapid got a facelift in 2016 which gave the car new bumpers, a new grille and new lights and the updated 2020 model carries the same styling. Yes, the Rapid is an old car now but it doesn’t really look that outdated. It looks young, it looks stylish and it looks premium. The paint quality is also really good and this Monte Carlo trim looks sporty with this bright red shade, dark alloys and the black spoiler.
Interiors – Step inside and a very familiar cabin awaits you. Not much has changed in the last 9 years and even though the fit-finish levels are really good, the cabin does look outdated now. We have the Monte Carlo variant which gets this really nice red stitching on the flat-bottom steering wheel. This car also gets red and grey seat covers. What is surprising is the fact that this top variant gets only 2 airbags and ABS while the lower-priced Style variant gets 4 airbags. The Rapid misses out on ESP, Traction Control, and 6 airbags that its rivals offer.
Even the top-most trim of the Rapid lacks a lot of features and equipment as compared to its competitors
The Skoda Rapid gets this 8-inch touchscreen which is Android-based. It doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto but has a mirroring function. The UI isn’t all that great, it doesn’t feel user friendly and this screen feels like an after-thought. There’s just 1 USB port which is located in the glovebox. The Rapid gets automatic projector headlamps and rain-sensing wipers. It does miss out on features like LED headlights, start/stop button, sunroof and TPMS.
The driving position is similar to the Polo and Vento. Outward visibility isn’t an issue and finding a good driving position doesn’t take much time. The front seats are nice and supportive and you get height-adjustable seatbelts. You also get a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel. Move to the rear seat and the first thing you’ll notice is the space. The Rapid isn’t as spacious as the City, Ciaz and Yaris. The seat is very comfortable though but it is best suited for 2 people. Legroom and headroom are just about enough and you do get 2 adjustable headrests. The tall tunnel limits the leg space for the middle passenger. Rear passengers now get sunshades on the windows. The boot capacity is 460-litres.
Performance – Goodness, the performance from this engine is surprising. Yes, it is just a small 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder unit but boy does it impress. It belongs to the EA211 family of engines from the Volkswagen Group and replaces the older 1.6-litre MPI unit. It has a strong 110 horses waiting to be unleashed along with 175 Nm of twisting force right at your disposal. The peak power delivery comes in at 5000-5500 RPM while the torque is spread between a wide band of 1750-4000 RPM. The engine makes some small vibrations at idle but it becomes smoother as you start driving. You will feel a significant amount of lag when you mash the throttle at lower RPMs but it is the mid-range where the engine just picks up pace like nothing else.
Despite being low on displacement, this turbocharged petrol engine has a fantastic mid-range and loves to redline
It keeps pulling all throughout the mid-range and all the way to the 6700 RPM redline. This small capacity engine offers big fun. The low-end lag gets slightly annoying at city speeds but find an open road and you’ll be daft enough to not drive the car the way it is meant to be driven. The 0-100 km/hr timings of the Rapid and the new City aren’t very different but the turbocharged engine of the Skoda steps ahead of the Honda in in-gear acceleration.
The earlier Skoda Rapid used to come with a 5-speed manual gearbox but now you get a 6-speed unit. The gear shifts are light but it does feel a bit notchy. The clutch isn’t too heavier than the Rapid’s Japanese and Korean rivals but what is more annoying is the long travel and high resting point. The Rapid gets tall gear ratios which are well-calibrated so that you can easily extract all the power from this engine. The only issue is that when you drive at low speeds in traffic, you constantly need to change gears to keep the car in the correct power band.
Small turbo petrol engines aren’t known to be very efficient. The Rapid TSI has an ARAI-rating of 18.97 km/l which is better than the 1.6 MPI and in day to day conditions you can expect 9-10 km/l on city roads and as much as 14-15 km/l on long highway drives. The Rapid will get an automatic in September but it will be a 6-speed torque convertor and not a DSG.
Driving Dynamics – The Skoda Rapid has a very potent chassis. I’ve driven the previous iterations of the car a lot of times and this sedan always comes across as a very confidence-inspiring car. The chassis can handle this power and much more. There’s an impressive level of composure not only while driving fast on the highways but also while taking corners. The steering is well-weighted and though it is precise, it lacks feedback. The suspension is tuned to be on the stiffer side. This does result in sharper bumps making their presence felt inside the cabin, especially when you drive the Rapid on poor roads. It is a different story altogether on smooth roads and highways where the car behaves very nicely. The Rapid gets discs up front and drums at the rear.
Verdict – If you are looking for a car with features and acres of space and comfort, the Skoda Rapid isn’t for you. But, if you want a car that offers lots of driving pleasure, great highway manners and a classy design, the Rapid won’t disappoint. The pricing of the Rapid TSI is good for what the car offers and the base Rider variant is even more value for money because it is priced at Rs. 7.50 lakhs putting it bang in the territory of premium hatchbacks and compact sedans.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives: – Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Maruti Ciaz, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Vento
Further Reading –