The popular Skoda Rapid executive sedan was introduced earlier this year with an updated 1.0-litre TSI engine mated to a manual gearbox. Now to cater to the demand of automatic sedan buyers, the Czech brand has also launched the car with an automatic transmission. And no, this one isn't the seven-speed DSG from the earlier 1.2 TSI or the discontinued diesel, but it's a six-speed torque converter, also seen in the Volkswagen Vento and Polo GT TSI models. Here, we take you through the five good things about this Rapid petrol automatic and two not so good ones.
1. Effortless performance
This Skoda Rapid TSI automatic is powered by a new 1.0-litre TSI turbo-petrol engine that churns out 109bhp of power and 175Nm of torque. If you thought of looking down upon this one being a three-cylinder mill, you will be surprised how nicely tuned it is, silent and without any unwanted vibrations. It revs freely with the tachometer needle easily moving towards its 6,000rpm redline. However, you'd be very rarely doing this as there's a strong mid-range and an adequate bottom-end fed with a good amount of torque. This wide powerband is quite sufficient for driving in both city traffic or cruising along the highways.
2. Automatic Convenience
The new torque-converter unit comes as a replacement to the old DSG automatic gearbox, which was previously offered with the BS4-compliant 1.2-litre petrol model of the sedan. This new automatic transmission does a good job of masking the slight initial turbo lag. Gear shifts happen just when the tacho needle is about to point at the 2,000rpm mark. The upshifting of gears with gentle throttle inputs is smooth enough to just go unnoticed. And even when you mash the accelerator pedal, the gearbox doesn't hesitate to downshift a gear or two, and does it quickly as well. All of this translates into a very seamless and hassle-free experience with the driver not having to worry about gearshifts or engaging the clutch, but just focus on the throttle and steering inputs.
3. Engaging to drive
The steering response is commendable as it accurately turns the car in the direction pointed at. Yes, it's not the lightest and the quickest with two-and-a-three-quarter turns lock-to-lock. But this heft and weighted feel add to the driving experience. You can take corners with more confidence and it’s even more fun with consecutive switch-back ones, thanks to its responsiveness. There's never a dull moment actually.
4. Good on-road stability
Another thing we have come to appreciate of the Rapid all these years is its excellent straight-line stability. Mechanically, the suspension set-up is the same and nicely tuned to give the sedan an absorbent ride quality. It never feels floaty and there's no hint of bobbing which means the occupants will be comfortable even at high speeds. This also means inter-city trips will be fast and relaxing as well.
5. Exciting price
The Skoda Rapid TSI automatic is priced between Rs 9.49 lakh to Rs 13.29 lakh as the automatic range starts from the second-to-base Rider Plus trim. This entry-level AT variant is priced at Rs 9,49,000 (ex-showroom) making the Rapid TSI automatic the most affordable automatic sedan in its segment. It even undercuts the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz’s Delta 1.5 AT entry-level version by a considerable margin as it’s priced at Rs 9,97,689 (ex-showroom). Even the automatic variants of the Toyota Yaris, Honda City, and the Hyundai Verna are priced higher. Another aspect that can pull buyers from this segment towards the Rapid.
1. Uninteresting interior
There are not many faults you will find in the cabin of the Rapid that has spot-on ergonomics, provides a perfect driving position, good visibility, and materials that give a good upmarket feel. However, its age and dated design are evident. Sure, the hard plastics provide a solid built quality but then the grainy texture makes it look bland. Overall, the interior could have done with some wow-factor.
2. Lacks features
Many customers might be allured with LED DRLs with projectors or by the new Android-based touch screen infotainment system that the car offers along with other features and safety equipment. However, in this day and age informed buyers with a keen eye will know they will miss out on keyless entry, an engine push start button, a digital instrument cluster, and so on. If the top-spec car buyers look across the segment, they might also develop the need for a sunroof, wireless charging, navigation, and even telematics that users have been wanting in new cars.
Thankfully, the attractive price point will make buyers consider the Rapid automatic which still packs in many essential features in an adequately spacious and comfortable cabin. Despite its age, the styling of the car is laudable for being a timeless and mature design. Then, there's also the admirable ride and handling paired with the effortless performance of this engine along with the convenience of the automatic transmission.
Pictures by Kapil Angane