New 2014 Skoda Rapid 1.5 TDI DSG Review: Unassuming Genius

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The Skoda Rapid has been one of the most balanced sedans in its segment ever since it made its debut in India. The measured proportions, chiseled, handsome looks, good engine options along with class-leading handling and ride have made it a great choice for the clued-in customer. Now, for the year 2014, Skoda have introduced a spruced up version of the family sedan, incorporating some serious changes, which, thanks to their inconspicuousness may go totally unnoticed for those who find titillation in superficial adornment. For those who care to look deeply, though, the new 2014 Rapid is a significant improvement – and with the new set of changes probably presents itself as the best option in its class. Here’s why the new 2014 Skoda Rapid means serious business

Design and appearance

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The new (international) 2014 Skoda Rapid, as we have known it from the images, has received quite a few changes on the outside, including angular headlamps, a new grille and details which push its appearance towards the new Skoda family look. Skoda India, however, have decided to keep the exterior of the new Rapid for India unchanged. And when we say unchanged, we mean totally unchanged. The new version of the Rapid is an exact clone of the model it replaces except for the new design of the alloys, and the new 15” steel wheels as standard on lower spec variants. The steel wheels on the lower spec models also feature a new design cover. It’s notable that the previous gen car had 14 incher steel wheels for the lower spec models. The new 15 inch alloys look muscularly smart and go well with the sophisticated look of the car.

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Click here to read our detailed earlier review of the Skoda Rapid

For those who want some more flamboyance over the standard model, Skoda have presented a special Black Edition with the new Rapid.

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The new variant adds some devilishness to the Rapid’s face with a few tactically appointed changes. The Black Edition Rapid will be available at an extra cost with smoked out headlamps, fog lamps with black surrounds, special 12 spoke black alloys and black ORVMs. Heck, even the chrome grille hosting the Skoda logo has been blacked out. The Black edition looks really nice, and should appeal to the enthusiasts, especially in the ‘flash red’ shade featured in the images here.

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For the deities of devil who worship darkness, Skoda are offering an even more sinister option. The roof of the car can be finished in black along with black foils. These two additions, however, are available as accessories at the dealer level. The other changes described for the Black Edition, however, come incorporated directly from the factory, as OE.

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The rapid, being the good-looking machine it always has been, still holds its own amongst the chrome laden faces of its Korean and Japanese counterparts. We do, however, believe that it would have been a bigger draw for the prospective customers had the 2014 Rapid been announced for India with that angular new family face of its international brethren. For now, however, the subtle design change in the form of the new alloys and the bigger wheels on the basic variants is the only external differentiation offered to the new model buyers.

Next page for Engine and Transmission>>>

Engine and transmission

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This is where the real change has come about, and in our view, is good enough to make the Rapid feel like a new car altogether. The variable geometry turbine (VGT) version of the 1.5 TDI diesel engine, seen first on the VW Polo, replaces the 1.6 TDI power-plant on the Rapid. While the displacement has been reduced by 100cc, there has been no change in the power and torque output. Peak power is rated at 103bhp as before and is produced at 4400 rpm. Peak torque remains unchanged too at 250Nm between a wide rev-band of 1500-2500 rpm.

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So, while the power and torque figures haven’t really changed on paper, the character of the engine, on the road, most definitely has. While the earlier 1.6 TDI unit, though not laggy, really brought to fore its forceful torrent of torque only post 1800 rpm. The pull from the punchy engine was clearly discernible as the turbo spooled up nicely, and it was fun and addictive in its own unique way. The turbo kick-in, which pleasured the torque junkie, was tradeoff for in-city driveability in higher gears at low speeds.

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The new 1.5 TDI engine is more linear, and gets to business from about 1500 rpm. It doesn’t mind shoveling out torque from the bottom of its rev barrel and keeps spinning without a whimper. While it’s difficult to see all that happening on the tacho with the brilliant 7-speed DSG transmission swapping ratios effortlessly based on the pedal position and speed, we did manage to study the behavior in detail on a forlorn piece of tar in Varna, Goa. That transmission has always been a brilliant unit, and makes the new Rapid shine with its presence.

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The 7-speed twin clutch DSG automatic transmission doing duty on the new Rapid simply makes it the most effortless car to drive in its segment. With the linear, torquey engine playing perfect foil to the quick shifting transmission, the new Rapid up-shifts quickly if you drive with a light foot and manages to exceed the manual transmission’s efficiency figure by about 0.5 kmpl. So while the manual transmission variant of the Rapid 1.5 TDI delivers 21.4kmpl under standard cycle, the DSG variant manages 21.66 kmpl. More convenience, better performance and more efficiency – nothing quite matches the magic of the DSG in the mainstream car market when it comes to automatic transmissions.

You can choose from Drive or Sport modes, and can also shift manually if you so wish by slotting the shifter lever to its left and then pushing the lever up, or pulling it down for up- and down-shifts respectively. Gear shifts in manual mode are lightening quick in typical DSG fashion, and there really isn’t any other auto transmission with a diesel engine which can come close to this piece of kit for promptness.

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In drive mode, the transmission tries its bit to keep the revs above 1400 kays to equip the car with enough shove to move ahead with reassurance. So when you drive with a feather light foot, and the tacho needle drops back from nigh 2K revs after an upshift, it settles down at around 1400 rpm. Depending on the amount of lead in your foot, the tacho needle would drop down ranging anywhere from 2000 rpm to 4500 rpm in Drive mode. What this effectively means is that even drive mode takes you up to 4500 rpm in a gear if you decide to bury the pedal.

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Sport mode peps up the shift pattern, making the engine hold on to its revs for longer. Typically, with part throttle, the upshifts would happen at around 3500 in this mode. However, with the pedal put under more than usual pressure, the tacho needle would visit the 4500 rpm mark before the DSG slots the car in a higher gear. You’ll have to shift to the manual mode if you want to make the revs go all the way up to the 5K redline on the tacho.

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The new 1.5 TDI engine, though a tad bit noisy above 3000 rpm, doesn’t mind being revved hard. The trips to 4.5k revs by the needle are eager as compared to some other lardy engines in the segment, though the performance somewhat tapers down towards the top end. The new 1.5 TDI engine lacks its 1.6 TDI predecessor’s outright punch, though it’s more useable, more frugal and more refined. Even with its slightly toned down mannerisms, this is a thoroughly enjoyable unit, and should be able to propel the Rapid to a genuine 180kays on the clock. In conjunction with DSG, the whole experience becomes much more convenient and enjoyable, all at the same time.

Next page for Interior, features, Ride & Handling>>> 

Interior and features

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Not much has changed on the inside of the Skoda Rapid. The headline news inside the cabin is the inclusion of cruise control for the Ambition Plus and Elegance variants.

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Skoda have also incorporated a new magnetic card holder on the center console for holding toll tickets.

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Parking sensors have also been incorporated in the car for the new model. Last but not the least, Skoda have introduced a unique iOS5 and Android based phone app for the back seat occupants. Using this application, the rear seat occupants can remotely control the car’s radio.

These are pretty much all the new changes incorporated on the new Rapid’s inside. Other features of the car remain the same as the previous model, and comprise a long list. The complete details of the features and variants available on the new Skoda Rapid are provided below.

Exterior features

DesignActiveAmbitionAmbition PlusElegance
Exterior Chrome Decor
Chrome trim on Radiator grilleYesYesYesYes
Chrome surround for radiator grilleNoYesYesYes
Interior Chrome Décor and colours
Chrome décor for interior door handlesYesYesYesYes
Chrome décor for front centre console, gearshift selector, locking button of hand brakeNoYesYesYes
Chrome trim on AC vents and duct slidersNoNoYesYes
Chrome trim on steering wheelNoNoNoYes
Ivory interior dual tone Mocca/Ivory front dashboard and door panels, Mocca Centre console, Ivory UpholsteryYesYesYesYes
Exterior colour coding
Body colour external mirrors and door handlesNoYesYesYes
Body colour bumpersYesYesYesYes
Gloss black décor on B-pillarYesYesYesYes
Safety
Illumination
Halogen projector  headlights with manual levelingNoNoNoYes
Halogen Headlights with manual levelingYesYesYesNo
Front Fog LightsNoYesYesYes
Rear Fog LightsNoYesYesYes
High mounted LED Brake LampYesYesYesYes
Visibility
Anti Glare interior rear view mirrorYesYesYesYes
Rear windscreen defogger with timerNoYesYesYes
Braking
ABSNoYes (With Automatic Transmission)YesYes
Brake AssistNoYes (With Auto)YesYes
Parking SensorNoNoYesYes
Airbags
Front Driver side airbagNoYesYesYes
Front passenger air bagNoNoYesYes
Occupant Restraint
Height adjustable seat belts (Front)YesYesYesYes
Two three point outer seat belts and centre lap belt at rearYesYesYesYes
Height adjustable head restraint (Front and rear)YesYesYesYes
More
Rough road packageYesYesYesYes
Child proof rear door locking and windowsYesYesYesYes
Child proof rear window lockingNoNoYesYes
Speed warning alarmNoNoYesYes
Fuel cut-off in a crashNoYesYesYes
Door Open indicatorYesYesYesYes
Emergency triangle and dual tone hornYesYesYesYes
Security
Engine immobilizer with floating code systemYesYesYesYes
Security code for audio playerNoNoYesYes
Remote control with foldable keyNoYesYesYes
Remote door and boot lid lock/unlockNoYesYesYes
Central Locking and unlocking of doors/boot lidYesYesYesYes
Remote opening/closing of windowsNoYesYesYes
Auto Door lockNoYesYesYes
Height adjustment for driver seatNoYesYesYes
Front / Rear centre armrestYesYesYesYes
Steering wheel adjustable for Rake and reachYesYesYesYes

Interior equipment: 

EntertainmentActiveAmbitionAmbition PlusElegance
Skoda Audio Player (2-Din)NoNoYesYes
Large format displayNoNoYesYes
Front and rear speakersNoNoYesYes
After market audio preparation 1-Din+Cable+ConnectorYesYesNoNo
Audio controls on steering wheelNoNoYesYes
USB and Aux inputNoNoYesYes
SD/MMC card readerNoNoYesYes
Climate control
Manual A/CYesYesYesNo
Climatronic ACC with electronically regulated cabin temperatureNoNoNoYes
Dual rear A/c vents on rear centre consoleYesYesYesYes
Dust & Pollen filterYesYesYesYes
Upholstery
Ivory fabric upholsteryYesYesYesYes
Leather wrapped steering wheelNoNoYesYes
Leather wrapped gear shift  selectorNoNoYesYes
Leather wrapped hand brake leverNoNoYesYes
External Mirrors
Manually adjustable rear view mirrorsYesYesNoNo
Electronically adjustable rear view mirrorsNoNoYesYes
Windows
Front and rear power windowsYesYesYesYes
One touch Up/DownNoYesYesYes
Bounce back systemNoYesYesYes
Tinted windows and wind screenYesYesYesYes
Convenience
Telephone Pre-installation
GSM telephone preparation with BluetoothNoNoYesYes
Telephone controls on SteeringNoNoYesYes
Bluetooth Audio streamingNoNoYesYes
Information Display
MFD Display for travelling time, distance travelled, average speed, immediate consumption, average consumption, distance to empty, service interval, outside temperature, clockNoNoYesYes
Gear change indicator (Diesel)YesYesYesYes
Cruise ControlNoNoYesYes
Interior Illumination
Reading lamp at the frontYesYesYesYes
Reading spot lamps at the rearYesYesYesYes
Boot lightYesYesYesYes
12v power socket  in centre consoleYesYesYesYes
Front sun visorsYesYesYesYes
Vanity mirror in left front sun visorYesYesYesYes
 Foldable roof handles Front/RearYesYesYesYes
Lights on acoustic signalYesYesYesYes
Remote boot releaseYesYesYesYes
Storage
Passenger compartment
Storage compartment in front and rear doorsYesYesYesYes
Bottle holder in front doorsYesYesYesYes
Cup holders Front/RearYesYesYesYes
Storage compartment  under front centre armrestYesYesYesYes
Storage pockets on the backrest of the front seatsNoNoNoYes
Magnetic card holderYesYesYesYes
Coat holder on B-pillar  and roof handlesYesYesYesYes
Black Package (Optional)O
Black shades with front fog lampsO
Black Shades on projector headlampsO
Black Alloy Wheels 15”O
Black colour outer rear view mirrorO
Black colour front grille including logo lipO

Variants and Colour Options: 

Variants                                                                    Engine
Trim1.6 MPI1.6 MPI (A)1.5 TDI CR1.5 TDI CR (A)
ActiveYes              –Yes             –
Ambition / Ambition PlusYesAmbition PlusYesYes
EleganceYesYesYesYes
Colours
Brilliant SilverYesYesYesYes
Candy WhiteYesYesYesYes
Cappuccino BeigeYesYesYesYes
Deep Black PearlYesYesYesYes
Flash RedYesYesYesYes
Toffee Brown (New body colour)YesYesYesYes

Ride and handling

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As mentioned earlier, the Rapid, ever since its launch has strongly laid its claim to being the best handling car in the segment. With the underpinnings on the new car having not being changed, the car retains its fabulous road manners. The Rapid takes into its stride even the more vicious undulations without breaking a sweat. It’s only on the acutely broken pieces of tar with sharp ridges where the Rapid really lets a thud pass into the cabin. The balance between a composed ride and reassuring handling exhibited by the rapid is laudable and is a benchmark for its segment.

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We drove the Rapid spiritedly around the same area where we drove the Tata Zest a few months ago. The difference one could feel piloting this German sedan should be experienced to be believed. While the former would request you to lift off if you were entering a corner with overly zesty intentions, this one shows terrific poise and balance. It actually eggs you on to try harder. The steering is incredibly neutral and you enter corners on a fabulously balanced set of wheels. You may even induce a deliberate oversteer and slide without the fear of losing control. While the feedback at the steering, thanks to the insulation isn’t too great, it’s amazingly precise and lets you place the car wonderfully well on the road.

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Having experienced the delightful combo of absorbent ride and predictable handling with this Skoda, we really cannot take away anything from this car’s claim to being the most sorted machine in terms of ride and handling for its segment.

Next page for Verdict, Image Gallery and Tech Specs>>>

Verdict

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Keeping the exterior of the car unaltered may have taken some of the thunder away from the new Rapid, but the inclusion of the all-conquering DSG has made this car an absolute delight to drive. A refined, yet assertive exterior, a torquey, yet linear engine, a feature rich, spacious cabin and the most competent automatic transmission in the segment – there isn’t really anything this car does wrong. Save for the relatively more expensive service and spares, there is absolutely nothing that should stop you from buying this machine, if a capable, comfortable family sedan for Rs 12 lakh, or thereabout is what you are looking for.

Tech Specs:

 

Technical Description1.6 MPI1.6 MPI (Auto)1.5 TDI1.5 TDI (Auto)
Engine TypeIn-line, liquid cooled, 16 valve, DOHCIn-line, liquid cooled, 16 valve, DOHCHigh pressure direct injection system, 16v DOHCVHigh pressure direct injection system, 16v DOHCV
Cylinders4444
Displacement1598159814981498
Max Power/revs105@5250105@5250105@4400105@4400
Max Torque/revs153@3800153@3800250Nm between 1500-2500250Nm between 1500-2500
Fuel Consumption (Arai rated)15 kpl14.3 kpl21.14 kpl21.66 kpl
 TransmissionManual 5-speedAutomatic 6-speed with tiptronic manual gear changingManual 5-speed fully synchronized7-speed automatic
Front AxleMcPherson suspension  with lower triangular links and torsion stabilizer
Rear AxleCompound link crank axle
Braking SystemHydraulic dual-diagonal circuit braking system vacuum assisted
Front BrakesDisc brakes with inner cooling, with single piston floating caliper
Rear BrakesDrum Brakes
Steering SystemDirect rack and pinion steering with electro mechanic power assist
WheelsSteel Wheel 6.0Jx15” (Active, Ambition, Ambition Plus); Alloy Wheel 6.0Jx15” (Elegance)
Tyres186/60 R15 (Active, Ambition, Ambition Plus, Elegance)
Length (mm)4386
Width (mm)1699
Height (mm)1466
Wheelbase (mm)2552
Ground Clearance (mm)168
Storage Capacity (Litres)460
Tank Capacity (Litres)55
Turning Radius (Metres)10.6

Image Gallery

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  • roy chubb says:

    I bought a 2014 rapid but am disappointed with the dsg gear change when in traffic it surges forward as soon as you let the footbrake off.also I have found it difficult to reverse it up a slope it drops out of gear just at the last foot from the wall behind me and then I have to use the handbrake to get it back because goes back to fast.
    is this a fault?