KATHMANDU: By all accounts, the new Skoda Rapid launched at the NADA Auto Show is impressive. Built as a car that is thoughtful and anticipates your every need, it should carve a niche for itself without much of a fuss.
At first glance, it captures attention and keeps you riveted to its stylish features. The Skoda front fascia is more prominent but headlights, grille and fog lamps are similar to the Fabia. The alloy wheels are a delight to look at, and are significantly lighter and more stable. Sleek, body-coloured mirrors and door handles make a lasting impression. With muscular curves and an impressive frame, it is a presence on the road that cannot be ignored.
On the inside, the cabin resembles the VW Vento but feels more spacious. With large boot space which could be the best in class and ample leg room, rear passengers are spoilt for comfort and could not get a better deal. Comfort comes through thoughtful features such as the centre armrest at the front, front and rear electronically adjustable windows, front and rear speakers, centre reading lamp at the front and spot lamps at the rear. While it may lack some of the frills, it delivers on the basics and that is what really matters.
From the driver’s seat, the Skoda Rapid Active offers a decent view of the road ahead. But the view while looking behind and reversing is obstructed by the rear seats and design of the rear windshield. The black dashboard offers the standard offerings — instrument panel and audio system. Control panels on the steering wheel would have made it more impressive. The steering wheel is height and length adjustable and the music system a delight, but the air conditioning could be more powerful. Invited to take the Rapid Active out to Nagarkot for a test drive was a pleasure. The petrol engine is smooth and refined. Just tipping the gas pedal brings it to life with a delightful responsive macho vroom that lets you know it packs the right amount of power. Driving the Rapid is a delight on the new wide road to Bhaktapur, as it literally glides past other vehicles. Even at higher speeds, it is perfectly responsive and agile on turns. Steering is extremely light and that is so essential for a refreshing drive.
Over the bad patches of road under construction just before you start climbing to Nagarkot, the Rapid was put to the test and proved its mettle. While the road
was certainly bumpy, the suspensions soaked up the bumps without a fuss and with the least amount of sound inside the cabin.
Uphill and downhill, sharp bends and narrow village roads were effortlessly taken in its stride. On the oversized bumps that are found only in Nepal, the Rapid lost a round or two but won the battle and impressed despite its length and size which places it among the top cars on my list, that balances comfort, safety and convenience for a perfect long drive.
The Rapid is available in three trims — Active, Ambition and Elegance, the last of which gets 15-inch alloy wheels and driver and passenger airbags. The new Rapid variants are part of a revised branding system for Skoda, which also includes the company’s tagline,
‘Simply Clever’ and that is best reflected in its attractive price. The Rapid will help the Skoda brand gain miles and will certainly turn up the heat for competitors.