Is the 2020 Skoda Rapid with the 6-speed torque converter automatic as quick and fun as its manual counterpart?
Three months after the launch of the 2020 Rapid 1.0 TSI, Skoda has now added automatic variant options. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol motor of the Rapid now also gets the option of a 6-speed torque converter. Skoda has smartly introduced the automatic option across all its variants starting with the Rider Plus. With prices starting at Rs 9.49 lakh for the base trim, the Rapid TSI is the most affordable sedan to feature a turbo petrol and an automatic combination. Is the torque converter as good as Volkswagen’s much-loved DSG? Is the Rapid AT a good option to consider or should you pick the manual instead? Read on to find the answers...
We have already done a detailed review of the 2020 Rapid MT a few months back, and needless to say this one, looks identical. In fact, since the Rapid gets no variant badges on the boot, it is hard to set it apart from the manual. What we have with us today is the Style trim that sits just below the top-spec Monte Carlo. It misses out on the black elements all around including the front grille surrounds, ORVM casings and the roof. The alloy wheels on the Style variant are silver and not diamond cut either. All the black elements sure make the Rapid look a lot sportier, and I feel are definitely worth spending the extra Rs 30,000-35,000 on. On the inside too, the Style trim gets the rather unexciting dual-tone beige and black combination. The Monte Carlo variant not only gets the all-black treatment but also flaunts the contrast stitching on the steering, gear lever, and the sportier looking upholstery. Interestingly, the Style trim gets 4 airbags, while the more expensive Monte Carlo variant only gets two.
Moving on to the meat of the matter, that is the 1.0-litre turbo petrol motor and the 6-speed torque converter. We first got a taste of it when we drove the Vento automatic last month, and unsurprisingly, it behaves very similarly in the Rapid as well. The three-cylinder motor is quick and the free-revving. The transmission is quite fluid in the way it shifts. A lot of automatic transmissions out there, brisk through the lower gears for the sake of improved efficiency, but that isn’t the case with this 6-speed torque converter. This one seems to find a fine balance between efficiency and performance. In the Drive mode, the transmission allows the engine to rev up to roughly 2,000rpm before shifting up. This nature of the transmission somewhat cloaks the turbo lag of the three-cylinder motor and with the 175Nm of torque kicking in at around the same rpm, the Rapid automatic packs adequate punch.
Pulling the gear lever further down into the S mode, allows the transmission to hold each gear a bit longer and thereby extract the most out of the tiny motor. When you pushed the accelerator pedal hard, in either of the two modes, there is a slight bit of hesitation before the transmission gives you a downshift, but that’s something you will easily learn to live with.
But it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the 6-speed torque converter. In the S mode, downshifts are noticeably jerky. It even gets a bit exasperating when you shift M – it doesn’t quite upshift as swiftly as you’d want it to, especially when you are pushing the car hard. And in that regard, the manual transmission continues to be a better fit for enthusiasts. But for those who drive primarily in the concrete jungle want the convenience of an automatic without compromising the mojo in their daily drive, the AT does the job well – although not as smoothly as the old DSG.
Just like the Vento, the Rapid too just lurches forward when you release the brake making it quite squirrelly. This is something that you really need to be wary about, especially in traffic and while parking.
Skoda has smartly introduced an automatic option across all its variants starting from the Rider Plus and that should help increase its reach. In fact, the Rapid Rider Plus is the most affordable automatic in this class of cars. But I must mention that the difference between the manual and automatic variants of the Rapid is a substantial Rs 1.5 lakh – which is greater than most of its rivals. With that in mind, the manual transmission variants feel better value for money propositions. But if you want the convenience of an automatic without compromising on the performance, the Rapid is among the best you can buy.
- 2020 Skoda Radpid 1.0 TSI AT
Engine: 999cc / 3-Cylinder / 12 Valves / Turbocharged
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 108.5bhp @ 5,000-5,500rpm
Torque: 175Nm @ 1,750-4,000rpm
Price: ₹12.99 lakh (ex-showroom)
X-Factor: The Rapid AT offers an excellent balance between convenience and performance.