The automobile manufacturer from the Czech Republic, Skoda, has been presenting us with several alluring offers recently that include the new Superb, the new Octavia and what we’re taking a look at today – the 2014 Skoda Rapid. Walk around the car and it is immediately evident that Skoda has not gone wild reshaping every panel and redesigning every feature. Instead, they have made very subtle modifications that lets one know that this is a new car; such as the addition of projector headlights and the new silver-on-black flying arrow Skoda logo.
Step inside though, and the changes are a lot more substantial. Gone is the old but brilliant 4 spoke steering wheel. The new Rapid gets a 3 spoke wheel with chrome garnishing to add that extra touch of class. It isn’t only about looking pretty either; this new steering wheel has controls for the audio system incorporated into it as well.
The two-tone interior of the Rapid is still a very nice place to be. All the buttons, levers, panels and knobs are chunky and hardwearing and you get the feeling that they are built to last. While the passenger cabin may not feel as plush as that of the Octavia or the Superb, it does feel a lot more solid and better built than all of the Rapid’s rivals (apart from the Volkswagen Vento, which is actually the same car underneath).
The version we tested came equipped with the fantastic 1.6 litre, 4 cylinder turbodiesel engine that delivers a power output of 105 bhp. Step on the throttle in any gear of the 5 speed manual transmission (there is an option of a 6 speed automatic as well, but only with a petrol engine) and the car takes off like no other vehicle in its segment. There is a little bit of turbo lag at the bottom end of the rev range but that’s a foible that plagues every car with a diesel engine under the bonnet. However, once you’re in the power-band, the new Rapid is an absolute hoot to drive.
The ride quality is a tad bit on the firm side but it sponges out most road irregularities very well indeed. Cornering is sharp, handling is agile, the brakes feel very reassuring and the steering feels extremely well weighted whether you’re in bumper-to-bumper traffic on city roads or flat out on highways. Even after driving the car hard, you need not worry about the fuel bills pushing you to bankruptcy.
To enhance the driving experience, the company has provided the 2014 Rapid with features like Bluetooth phone connectivity, USB, SD card and aux-in capability for the audio system, climatronic air-conditioning, a multi-function display, dual front airbags, rear parking sensors and so on.
Skoda has not scrimped on thoughtful touches that add a bit of comfort and convenience such as foldable centre armrests at the front and rear, a cavernous 460 litre boot that gobbles up heaps of luggage and rear AC vents. Overall, the interior of the car is a place where you can sit for a really long drive and still feel comfortable and fresh when you arrive at the destination.
When you boil down the facts, the 2014 Skoda Rapid is a car that has excellent performance, good build quality, an economical engine, comfortable interiors and a generous list of features. Combine all this with the fact that the Rapid’s service intervals come only once a year or every 15,000 kilometres, this new sedan from Skoda is a car that offers a no-nonsense, hassle-free driving experience and excellent value for money.
Photography - Rajeev