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Doppelganger We find out if there is more to the Rapid than what meets the eye Words Ashok George Photography Bertrand D’Souza
verybody knows Will Ferrel – you know, the guy who played all those roles that had you reaching for the tissue box because you laughed so hard you cried. Most people also know Chad Smith – Red Hot Chili Peppers’ hell raising, double bass-ing, snare breaking, bad ass drummer. While both are very different people, they have one similarity. They both look exactly alike! Just like the Skoda Rapid and the VW Vento. There is a difference however- just like Chad Smith, the Rapid has the bigger nose of the two.
Styling and design The Rapid borrows styling from a lot of cars within the family. When I say borrows, I don’t mean it takes inspiration from, I mean it actually borrows from. Being the sedan version of the Fabia, it was only natural that the front end came from the Fabia. But then, the Fabia connection terminates with the front end and the steering wheel. View the
overdrive JAN 2012
car from the side and you immediately run back to the front. Not because it’s so horrible, but because you’re not sure whether, in the 1/100th of a second you took to blink your eye, somebody moved that Rapid and put in front of you a Vento. That’s how similar the cars are. And in the exact same way VW pulled off the ‘Polo sedan’ Skoda too has pulled off the ‘Fabia sedan’ rather seamlessly. The only eyesores are those kinks on the bootlid next to the number plate which do not go with the horizontal lines everywhere else on the car. It seems to be an addition that was made to differentiate itself from the Vento’s otherwise identical boot. Insides too are identical to the Vento, and if it weren’t for the different colour scheme and the steering wheel, dials and gear knob being borrowed from the Fabia, there would be no differentiating both cars. Being a Skoda, interior quality is top notch. All the plastics are smooth to touch with no serrated edges or undulations with fabrics that are some of the best in the segment. In
deriving the Rapid from the Vento, Skoda faces the same issues that VW did. For example, the lack of leather on the wheel and the absence of steering mounted audio controls, two of our favourite grouses, have made an appearance again. Speaking of the audio system, connectivity is far better than the Vento but not as good as the competition. While everybody else considers a USB connector as a standard factory fitment, Skoda adamantly sticks to the SD card reader concept. Thankfully there is an AUX input that makes the cabin a happier place to sit in. You may remember that the Vento’s fabric had a curious habit of staining too quickly. While the texture of the Rapid’s fabrics is very different from the Vento, how hard they will be to keep clean remains to be seen. These are the only problems in an otherwise well put together interior. All the variants get a steering column that is adjustable for rake and reach, making it very easy to find a suitable driving position.
A preview of what's in the January 2012 issue of OVERDRIVE magazine.