The Skoda Rapid Active Rider now comes with a 1.0-liter TSI Turbo petrol engine that swaps out their larger 1.5 diesel and/or 1.6 petrol engine. More importantly, it comes at a considerably lower sticker price, making it the most affordable Skoda on sale right now. So, what the Skoda Rapid Active Rider essentially tries to encapsulate is the elegance and class of the Skoda moniker but at a more affordable price tag.
Affordable, as you might have already expected, comes with considerable cost cuts. The alloy wheels are gone, and so is the infotainment system, and up front you get a basic halogen headlight. Apart from that, the Skoda Rapid stays pretty much unchanged in terms of the exterior; the build quality remains solid and it is still a very handsome car. The Skoda Rapid Rider is no frugal affair. You still get automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity with 2-DIN music system with four speakers, and all four power windows. You will notice that the driver-side windows don’t get the controls for the rear-door windows, which can be bothersome if your passengers leave the window open.
Nevertheless, your passengers will be comfortable in the Rapid Rider throughout their journey (as they should in a midsize sedan). The cost cuts have not compromised on the experience of the occupants in the car that much in line with the coveted Skoda fashion of comfort and elegance. The rear seats are comfortable and can easily accommodate three people with plenty of legroom; although, for the best experience, you would fare better with just two occupants. The Rapid Active Rider gets rear AC vents as well as a center armrest and adjustable head rests. Plus, the Rider variant comes with both front and rear cabin lights with a theater style dimming effect when you turn the car off and on, as well as a rear windscreen defogger.
Now, coming to what we believe is the most important perspective, the driver’s. Once again, the seats are comfortable. For taller folks, the low seating is convenient. However, lack of height adjustment will be cumbersome for shorter drivers. The seating position offers great all-round visibility and there are no blind spots caused by the pillars, although larger ORVMs and IRVM would have been welcome.
What really sold the car for us was the driving experience. The Rapid Rider gets a tiny but very capable 1.0 TSI engine; in fact it is the same award-winning TSI engine that you get on the ‘Volkswagen Up GTI’. The stats show the 1.0L TSI engine churning out 108 BHP of power and 175 NM of torque. That’s a 5bhp and 20Nm bump from the previous 1.6 MPI engine. Keep in mind, the Skoda Rapid Rider only comes with manual transmission.
The real fun begins the instant you shift into gear and get the wheels rolling. It’s a preppy affair, to say the least. It sprints off the mark with spirit and the engine revs implore you to push the car to its limits. And the engine eagerly responds. Put the pedal to the metal and you’re darting off to a ‘rapid’ sprint on straight lines. You’ll be blown away by how quickly it gathers speed when you find the right RPMs in each gear.
Direct it into corners and the car confidently veers into it, maintaining consistent rigidity and inspiring the confidence in you to fling it into the next corner. The lighter powerful engine, with a comparatively stiff chassis by class standards and a suspension set up which is hinting at the firmer side, all make for a very pleasing experience behind the wheel. But the three-cylinder engine does make a fair bit of noise, and we would have loved a better gear shift throw.
Driving in the city feels like you’re really holding the Skoda Rapid Rider back. It gets off to a sprint with vigor, only to be cut off by one obstruction or the other. Nevertheless, quick overtaking maneuvers will put a smile across your face. What might not make you smile is the car’s ability to handle large potholes and undulations. But that is the compromise you will have to make in return for the engaging drivability that the Rapid Rider provides.
Overall, the Skoda Rapid Rider is a great car for most auto enthusiasts, and that is all thanks to the amazing 1.0 TSI engine. If you are looking for engaging drivability in a mid-size sedan that fits a tight budget, this one should definitely be on your shortlist. The Skoda Rapid Active Rider MT comes in at a price of Rs. 3,490,000; for the driving experience, it is definitely money well spent. Yes, there are fewer creature comforts than you would expect from a Skoda, but it is still a bargain. Not to mention, the passengers will not have much to complain about either.