Since 2011, mobile internet speeds transitioned from 2G to 3G to LTE. Humans built a new reusable rocket called SpaceX, LED lighting became household consumer products. We had seven generations of the iPhone and more importantly, the most important paradigm shift came in the form of Netflix. The last decade has been witness to the world change and transformed itself in countless ways. We have evolved in terms of lifestyle and technologically at a rapid pace. Yet, Skoda seems to think that a car from over a decade ago is still just as relevant. So it better be one heck of a car. The Skoda Rapid has been updated this year, but is a decade old car still worth buying new today’s fast-paced world?
Although over the years, the Skoda Rapid has been given updates a few times, not much has changed since the last facelift. The styling is sharp but simple. It looks dignified and does not follow the over-styled looking trend that is quite abundant these days. The overall design has aged very well and the Rapid still looks fresh after 10 years. The simplified styling is poles apart from the over-styled vehicles we have today.
There may have been minor tweaks over time. But the dashboard is the same as we first saw in the Rapid when it was launched in 2011. However, when you look at the quality of the materials as well as the fit and finish, one cannot complain in any way.
The standard model gets a dual-tone dash and trims with a predominantly beige interior. But the Monte Carlo model gets an all-black, red-accented cabin with leatherette seat upholstery. There are a couple of cushions with the Monte Carlo branding in the rear seats as well.
However, with the Rapid Monte Carlo, you get an 8-inch Android-based touchscreen infotainment system. It, by all means, is unfortunately terrible. It looks a bit aftermarket, and it is clearly the worst system offered in its segment. It is also slow to wake up, it doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Although you can mirror your phone screen to it, the interface is not intuitive at all. Additionally, the only USB port is placed awkwardly inside the glovebox. The lower-spec models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a traditional touchscreen, albeit in a smaller size. But more importantly, it’s easier to use and works fairly well.
One more gripe is the Speed Alert Warning is displayed on the digital MID. Over the speed of 80kph, the display is frozen with the warning. The only way to check any other info is to drop down below 80 kph and then cycle through the menu. I feel this could have been integrated with a little more thought.
Speaking of driving at high speeds, the Rapid has been known to offer a balanced driving experience. In the BS6 era, Skoda has done away with the older petrol and diesel offerings. The Rapid is now equipped only with a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine. It is offered with a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine is more powerful at 110hp. While torque output is similar to the older 1.2-litre MPI engine from the Volkswagen Vento. Driving the Rapid in the city requires some work as low-range torque is not available thanks to the motor being smaller and turbocharged. So in city traffic, changing gears is frequent. But that’s not a problem because not only is the transmission smooth to shift, the clutch is extremely light as well. The throttle response is good and in the meat of the power band, the 110hp is more than what you will ever need. The engine just loves to rev, and eggs you on to plant your foot down quite frequently.
Having said that, it’s quite apparent that with the smaller engine, you feel that it barely scratches the surface. The Rapid can handle a lot more than the downsized engine allows. The motor itself is fairly refined, however, typical 3-pot vibes can be felt while idling. They do disappear when the revs begin to climb and it’s in the mid-range where the engine feels its happiest. Then when we tested the fuel economy, the Rapid was returning 16kpl in fixed conditions, so I was at my happiest.
Through the corners, the Rapid feel a touch more agile than before. The front end is lighter thanks to the smaller engine. It likes to be pushed through the corners. The ride is taut making it comfortable and smooth over bumps, and not bouncy at. It inspires confidence at high speed on the highway.
Safety is not compromised with the Rapid being offered a fair list of features that would keep the occupants in the car protected. I do find it ironic that the Monte Carlo actually gets fewer airbags compared to the less-expensive ‘Style’ variant. Additionally, I do miss LED projector headlamps, while a sunroof would be missed by most others.
The touchscreen of the Rapid Monte Carlo feels like it hasn’t caught up with the times. But, the Rapid overall surely has kept up, especially with that downsized turbo petrol engine. If you ask reasonably, the Rapid will deliver on all the fronts over and above the bare necessities. However, its age is apparent. The Rapid Monte Carlo is not as well equipped as its rivals or even the lower-spec Rapid Style variant!
Staying with my initial analogy, the Rapid is like an iPhone SE. It may be a couple of generations older, most people may overlook it because the newer ones are shinier. But if you actually drove one every day, it would do its job fairly well, and not leave you disappointed. The Rapid Monte Carlo in particular, despite its edgier looks is a variant I would personally avoid. Other than that, thankfully the other variants of the Skoda Rapid are priced competitively and well worth the money. 10 years on, and the Rapid still has its mojo, especially from behind the wheel.
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