A few weeks ago Skoda had sent the Rapid 1.0 TSI for us to experience and the car had genuinely startled me with the power on offer. Not just the figures on paper but also how neatly the engine puts down all those ponies to the tarmac. Just the engine coupled with the six-speed manual transmission felt so good, you’d end up ignoring the decade-year-old car around you.
And now there’s a new one in the basement. It’s the new automatic being offered in a slightly different trim – Style, the one that sits just under the spicier Monte Carlo edition. Well, you get the same tech but what’s missing are those blacked out bits, sportier-looking variants of the alloys and the two cushions for the rear passengers. Oh wait, the sunblinds are missing too.
Nevertheless, to cheer you up are the brighter beige interiors that lighten up the cabin rather well, showcasing the German build that flaunts an impeccable fit and finish. The Android based infotainment system does stick out like a nail yet you’ll figure the easy ways of operating it (hopefully). The USB slot though, that’s going to be a pain forever.
Without letting the boring toffee-brown color take on my young and vibrant charisma, let me describe this new amalgamation between a six-speed torque converter and a beautiful engine. Now before we start, yes and I know purists will shame this transmission over the DSG that existed with the now discontinued 1.2-litre TSI on VW’s platforms but hey, drive one before you form an opinion. Now that the elephant in the room has been counted for, this unit here is a six-speed torque converter that also gets a sports mode on offer along with an option to shift the gears manually via the triptonic selector.
Slotting the gears does take some effort but it has a solid feel to it. The green indicators match the rest of the interior lighting and the lever itself is neatly finished with the Skoda badging on top. Shift down to drive and the Rapid feels a bit too eager to move forward, so much so that I found myself pressing the brakes harder than usual just to avoid kissing the car ahead. But once the horizon is clear, the engine builds up pace neatly and the grunt from the direct injection turbocharged engine is rather enjoyable. The fast pace is accompanied with smooth upshifts and the transmission unit is very intuitive. And then there’s that sport mode which lets the engine sing to its limits, holding each gear till the 6,000 rpm mark before it shifts to the next. Such a clean delivery and no this isn’t the IPL.
It’s only when you decelerate that downshifts are made evident by a bit of a jerk, especially in the lower half of the band. It’s more pronounced in the S mode and although it wasn’t a tremendous worry for me, I’m sure customers looking for a relaxed driving experience might find it a bit worrying. Would a DSG be better? Possibly. But by no means is the torque convertor incorrect for the job. So much so that I didn’t really wish for the shifts to be quicker or snappier. The six-speed AT compliments the engine rather well and this would open new avenues for customers to access the Rapid. Certainly the ones who appreciate spirited driving over a long list of features. It’s a special car and it’s well-executed.
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol with direct injection
Transmission: Six-speed AT
Fuel tank: 55 litres
Boot space: 460 litres
Tyres: 195/55 R16
Prices: Rs 9.49 lakh onwards (ex-showroom)