Skoda India has recently launched their much awaited C segment sedan, the Rapid. Skoda had no car in the C segment post the removal of their Octavia a few years ago. The C segment is presently dominated by the Hyundai Verna, Honda City and the Maruti Suzuki SX4 with the Volkswagen Vento close on their heels. So first let us start with the “Twins” in this segment which are made in same plant, similar style and even same Power house under their hood.
When you look at the Rapid for the first time, it seems like Skoda took the Vento from VW and adapted the Fabia’s front end onto it. However, both the cars look mostly similar, except for some changes. One can spot the difference by taking a closer look at the Rapid, that you realize there’s more to it than just a change of headlamps and radiator grill, Hood. The bonnet also extends over the front fenders. The front bumper is redesigned as well, though the headlamps, grill and fog lamps are sourced from the Fabia. The side profile is exactly the same as the Vento though.
At the rear, the boot lid, rear bumper and tail lamps are all new, and the rear design is much sharper than that of Vento. Skoda’s new design theme makes its way into the Rapid for the first time with 2 sharp edges on either side of the number plate (like a prism edge). Also, the kink of the Vento’s boot lid is replaced by a straight line on the Rapid.
And step inside , Even the interiors are nearly identical. Keen observers will notice the difference in colour shades of the interiors, Where the Vento has a grey shade on the dash, the Rapid gets a browner colour. In the Vento’s cabin, you get beige on the door pads, lower part of the dash (including centre console), carpet and seats too. The Rapid uses light beige only for the seats, partial door pads and lower half of the dash.
However, the beige seats feel a notch lower in material quality of the Rapid compared to that of the Vento. The best part is the black carpeting which obviously doesn’t soil as easily as beige. This colour combination doesn’t look dull, neither does it look like too many shades have been used. In fact, it’s more practical than the Vento.
The dashboard overall looks less premium than the Vento’s, thanks to the brown shade. The AC vents are lined with a shiny black finish which doesn’t look as good as the brushed aluminium of the VW Vento. Also, the Rapid has a shiny chrome finish on the steering boss area, gear knob, climate control buttons, audio system and headlight switches (compared to brushed aluminium on the Vento).
The other difference, of course, is the 4-spoke Skoda steering wheel that is similar to the Fabia. The instrument console varies a bit from the one in the Vento, with different fonts used on the dials, and the use of white needles (instead of red in vento). Also the Skoda Rapid lacks Audio controls on the steering wheel and a usb port for its music player which VW
vento has upgraded recently.
Performance & Handling, NVH
Both the cars share their engines under the hood. The 1.6L diesel is rated at 104 BHP (4,400 rpm) and 250 Nm of torque (1,500 – 2,500 rpm) for both VW and Rapid.
The gearshift is decent, though we’ve seen better. The throws are short, but a tad notchy and vague on the diesel. I couldn’t shift into fifth smoothly, and always needed to jiggle it a bit. Another irritant I noticed was the vibration you feel on your leg when releasing the clutch. There’s some vibration right at the clutch’ biting point, and you feel it every time you change gears
The rapid diesel The suspension is on the stiffer side, but at the same time can take bad roads very easily. At low speeds, the stiffness is felt when going over sharp bumps or completely broken roads. The Rapid tends to jump over them with a very fast rebound, sending a huge thump into the cabin. On the other hand, on regular Indian roads (including mild potholes), you won’t even need to slow down. The Rapid simply absorbs these bad roads without breaking into a sweat. It’s much better than the Vento which tends to crash over such roads if you don’t slow down enough. Sudden undulations which would usually throw off any car are taken with aplomb. There was a particular instance when the road suddenly goes up and then down immediately. This would have caused most C segment sedans to literally fly, then bottom out at the drop; the Rapid simply flattened this undulation out at triple digit speeds without complaint. There were no oscillations or unnecessary vertical movements.
Compared to the Vento, the suspension appears to be more compliant. The Vento is probably better on straight roads, though on typically Indian highways which are nowhere near perfect, the Rapid inches ahead. The Rapid’s suspension setup is like an improved version of the Vento’s.
The steering is an electric unit, so is devoid of feedback, yet it weighs up well on the diesel. The steering does not feel overly light at highway speeds. That said, it doesn’t match a pure hydraulic steering for feedback and weight. Of special mention are the brakes which are absolutely brilliant. High speed braking is extremely confidence inspiring, and the Rapid stops with no drama whatsoever. Pedal modulation is perfect, and you can modulate the pedal even during emergency braking to stop exactly where you want it to.
Leaping to the NVH levels. Having driven a Vento and Rapid, the difference in NVH levels left us puzzled if these cars are really the same underneath. Where the Vento engine’s clatter was audible at medium speeds and even more so above 3000 rpm, the Rapid was silent (once warmed up, of course). There was no diesel thrum even at 3000 rpm(In Rapid). It appears that Skoda has spent a lot of time & attention on the Rapid’s NVH insulation which simply beats that of the vento. Both the cars are expected to return a similar fuel economy.
The Skoda Rapid has been launched at a price lower than the VW Vento resulting in a new value-for-money player within the upper C sedan segment. The only thing you should keep your fingers crossed when going for skoda is its After-sales dept. The Skoda’s fully-loaded variant has been priced 60,000 rupees lesser than the Vento Highline. The Vento’s base model ‘Trendline’ which is devoid of any safety features is just Rs.600 lesser than the Rapid’s ‘Ambition’ which is equipped with ABS and driver airbag.
Both the cars are similar under their hoods , with same power output and also in its external dimesnions(only small variations from rapid). The Skoda Rapid scores ahead over the VW Vento at the NVH factor and in Price, apart from that Vento is also a good choice.