Road Test

Skoda Rapid 1.5 TDI DSG Diesel Automatic First Drive Review

By   |   10 October,2014

Introductions please...

This is the updated Skoda Rapid with a styling package and a new diesel engine but the bit you really want to know is that the Rapid 1.5 TDI now comes with an automatic option. Yes finally we are getting more diesel automatics in India. Earlier the perception was that diesel along with automatic would push the price too much plus there was this thought that the diesel car buyer wants every bit of efficiency and does not want some efficiency sapping auto.

Now though all that has changed as thanks to various factors like long commutes and increasing traffic the demand for automatics have increased plus new technology brings in better efficiency which makes the diesel plus auto combo rather tempting. Currently other than the Hyundai Verna there is no diesel auto and here Skoda wants to dominate. So how good is the Rapid diesel auto? Read on.

The drive

The Skoda Rapid retains the 1.6 petrol but the old diesel engine is gone now replaced by a downsized 1.5 diesel engine. This engine is also available in two power outputs in the Volkswagen Polo, in the new Vento. The Rapid 1.5 diesel then produces 103 bhp at 4400 rpm and 250Nm of torque between 1500-2500 rpm.

While the 5-speed manual remains we drove the diesel engine mated to the 7 speed DSG autobox. Yes this is the same autobox which comes with the Polo/ Vento TSI and will only be available in the diesel. This gearbox as the named suggests is an automatic dual-clutch DSG having two dry clutches. What this means is that the Rapid diesel with this DSG gearbox gains a new layer of desirability and this autobox changes the Rapid diesels character. First of all this gearbox is smooth and it makes good use of the power/ torque on offer.

There are two modes 'D' and 'S' while the 'D' is for everyday driving in its most efficient form it is in the 'S' mode that the Rapid DSG sharpens its response and it is properly quick. In this mode it holds the gears longer and downshifts are quick giving you access to plenty of performance. In the narrow but empty Goan roads the Rapid DSG in 'S' mode was fun to drive though once at higher revs the engine gets a bit vocal.

Unlike the manual the lag is well contained (though it's still present in small quantity) and the Rapid 1.5 diesel auto is now stress free and effortless to drive in the city but also cruises at high speeds easily in the highway. Suspension wise it stays the same which means body control and ride remain the plus points.

The suspension which is not overly soft and aids in good cornering results in a ride which though slightly firm is not uncomfortable at all. The handling is far from sloppy and the direct steering gives you the confidence to push for more. This is an area where the Rapid leaves others in its class far behind.

Is it fuel efficient?

You bet. Looking at the efficiency numbers you will see that the Skoda Rapid TDI DSG delivers 21.66 kmpl in place of the 21.14 kmpl of the manual. The 7-speed DSG takes credit for that as the extra gears helps maximise efficiency.

Any other changes?

The updated Rapid gets a 'Black package' which has been explained in our feature article and we think you should surely get one as it looks fantastic plus at around Rs 20,000 is great value. Other than that there are new alloys (15 inch alloys on Elegance, 15 inch steel rims for rest), parking sensors and a new toffee brown colour which will be available from November. The cabin remains the same save for the fact that you now have cruise control and card holder which means it carries the changes seen on the previous update.

The three spoke steering is nice to hold and we like the simple but high quality interior. It has got the now 'must have' features like climate control, rear parking sensors, steering controls, projector headlamps etc though we would have liked features like a rear camera. Space is the same as before which means it has got good legroom and headroom. There is now an app which you can download on your IOS/Android device and this basically gives you control of the audio system from your phone- something chauffeur driven owners will love.

Final thoughts?

The Rapid diesel DSG comes in Ambition+ and Elegance trim levels with prices starting at Rs 10.34 lakh while the whole Rapid range with the base variant starts at Rs 7.22 lakh. Overall then we think it is the new diesel engine with the 7 speed DSG that gives the Rapid a big advantage over others.

Simply put there is no other car at this price offering such performance and ease of driving. Yes, it is more expensive than the manual version but without doubt it is worth every extra rupee. We like the manual but the DSG just is a better deal as far as we are concerned as it does not skimp on efficiency but provides convenience and more importantly to us, a better driving experience.

Words and Photography-Somnath