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2017 SKODA RAPID FACELIFT: THE GOOD GETS BETTER

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Skoda’s bestseller has been the Rapid since its launch back in 2012. Finding its place between the Fabia and Octavia, Skoda’s Rapid was the answer to the growing popularity of the C-segment cars. Although the Laura has been our favorite from the Czech based carmakers, the Rapid has been the torchbearer for Skoda in terms of sales figures. Despite strong competition in the segment from the likes of the Ciaz, Sunny and Vento the Skoda Rapid has been able to hold its own. It’s compact dimensions and spacious interiors have been sought after elements, and it has been a successful combination for Skoda.

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That might be part of the reason why the popular sedan has received very little changes. However, the Skoda Rapid now has a substantial facelift after five years. Here is the rejuvenated Skoda Rapid that is ready to grace the streets of Nepal.

EXTERIOR

Although Skoda have found their strong suit in conventional designs presented with a touch of class, the facelift has sharpened the aesthetics of the Skoda Rapid, most significantly through its completely new fascia. In line with Skoda’s new design language, the Rapid gets the butterfly grille with chrome accents and long angular headlights. Below the grille sits a redesigned bumper with a honeycombed lower air intake, and fog lamps. Prominent lines run from the logo, through the center of the bonnet to the windscreen.

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There are no changes to the profile. Both the upper and lower character lines define the persona that Skoda has instilled in the Rapid since its manufacture. Around the back is the lightly redesigned bumper and tailgate-mounted chrome strip. C shaped taillights and boot lid creases give the rear of the Rapid increased visual interest.

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INTERIOR

The interior of the Skoda Rapid has always been spacious, and that has not changed with the facelift. There is plenty of legroom and shoulder room for all passengers with three grown men in the rear seat.

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It’s a classic black and beige affair in terms of the cabin hue. We wouldn’t really call the dash extravagant but the subtle simplicity is well executed. However, the absence of the push start button and rear reverse camera will stand out once you get into the driver’s seat.

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On the dash is the 6.5-inch touchscreen that comes with USB, AUX and Bluetooth support. The triple spoke steering wheel fit well in the hands and get a tilt-and telescopic adjust with telephony and volume controls integrated into it.

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In terms of safety, it is fitted with automatically-dimming rear-view mirror, cruise control, cooled glove box, climate control, rear AC vent and one-touch power windows. The Rapid also gets ABS and dual front airbags as a standard safety feature on all variants.

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PERFORMANCE

There is little doubt that the Skoda Rapid is a good-looking machine. It is an amalgamation of elegance, class and stylish good looks. And for once, you might get away with judging a book by its cover because the Rapid lives up to everything that meets the eyes.

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At the heart of the Rapid we were driving was the 1.6L multi-point injection petrol engine. There is little hesitation from the mill to get the Rapid off the line. And with 104 BHP and 153NM peak torque on tap, you can expect the Rapid to perform well on the tarmacs of Nepal.

The five-speed manual gearbox offers short, nice throws, but the clutch is on the heavier side. Suspension duties are undertaken well by the Rapid, making light work of minor road undulations to provide a supple riding experience for the passengers. The low-speed ride is sufficiently absorbent, and only the largest of potholes thumps through to the cabin. Overall stability is top notch making it a great highway cruiser.

 VERDICT

Skoda has always been on top of its game in terms of bringing quality products into the market. The models higher up on their lineup such as the Laura, Superb and Yeti have been exceptionally good as well. And with the Rapid, they were able to bring the best of their elegance and luxury into a more affordable package. Nevertheless, Skoda has always been slightly reserved with their styling.

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The recent facelift though, has brought the Rapid up to speed with competition owing to new additions like touchscreen displays; rain sensing wipers and a cooling glove box. What further sets it apart though is its superior build quality. Things like the way the switchgear feels, the ‘thump’ made by the doors as they shut and the general feeling of robustness you get exudes quality.

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Similarly, the new façade really upgrades the entire look of the Rapid giving it a chic European appeal. The butterfly grille alone elevates the design language altogether.

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So what we have here is a tried and tested sedan that has improved to live up to the expectations from the brand name. However, Skoda hasn’t really been frugal with its pricing to undercut its rivals. Nevertheless, this is an important updated product for Skoda and one that puts Skoda back into the mix.

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For variants and pricing, click here

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