Skoda Rapid : Road Test
After ruling the roost in the various luxury segments, Skoda has finally unleashed its contender in the midsize sedan segment. With badge engineering used to the hilt, the Rapid then as Skoda calls it, is pretty much a Czech Vento. But will it manage to make its own identity in this fiercely competitive market? Let's find out
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The other day, I was in the long term Vento with a friend. We were waiting at the signal when a Skoda Rapid pulled up right along side us. Now even though my friend isn’t into cars, the first question he asked after spotting the Rapid was “Why does that Skoda look so much like the Vento?” While that was just the beginning of a very long discussion between us, let me introduce you to the very sharing world of “Badge Engineering”. While it’s no secret that more than platforms are shared between Skoda and VW, the Rapid takes sharing to an all new level. But will this badge engineered Skoda carve out a niche for itself amongst its well established rivals and especially from its closest competition which is none other than the more than similar Vento? Here’s the answer!
Similar but yet so different!
This is where the “more than just platform sharing” bit comes into play. Looked at in profile, its hard to differentiate it from the Vento thanks to the exact same A, B and C pillars, but from there on things start to change. The front end treatment is similar to the Fabia just like the Vento/Polo. The moustache grille actually looks good and along with the large nose, the Rapid actually looks much more mature than the Vento. All throughout the lines are smooth and integrated smoothly with the elongated body.
Adding to the visuals are the brilliant 5 spoke alloys which again look a lot more chunkier than the ones on the Vento. The boot which is again a straight lift from the Vento looks well integrated too. Tail lights receive the Skoda touch and then there is the crystal cut which gives the boot its distinct identity. Overall the Rapid comes across as a handsome sedan which is more than a rebadged Vento or just a Fabia with a boot.
Skoda have always had a common theme on the insides for all its cars and the Rapid is no different. While the basic dashboard layout is the same, it now gets doused in loads of Skoda overtones. A combination of beige and brown makes the already spacious interiors even more roomy. The front seats are extremely comfortable and offer good support all round. Adjustable for height and reach, finding a good driving position is very easy.
However it’s hard to ignore the carried over parts like the headlight switch, climate control and the aircon vents which could have received a different treatment. Another major miss are the steering mounted controls which Skoda for some reason seems to avoid.
With the again similar wheelbase of 2552 mm, the Rapid has a lot of legroom to play with. If considered as a chauffer driven car, the Rapid will find a lot of buyers. Even with three passengers sitting abreast, the rear of the Rapid is a good place to be in. The only hindrance is the slightly tall transmission tunnel which makes getting in and out a little difficult.
by Punam Chavan
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