I’m not much of a sucker for Bollywood masala movies. They’re entertaining, some of them, but most suffer from a lack of imagination. Many of our 70mm efforts are broadly based on just a handful of storylines. Consider this as a situation – a hopeless romantic guy and a mushy girl, couple that with some running around trees and much unnecessary singing and you already have a recipe for boredom, I think. Add a father who’s against their love, and a villain who roams around with one aim – to assault the girl, and the plot is sort of complete.
And there are many more story ideas that are equally pathetic as well. A struggling guy falls in love with a rich girl. You know what happens then, don’t you? There are more, of course, such as siblings trying to court the same guy.
Movies are a reflection of their time. And, in the past, the elder sister would willingly sacrifice her happiness so her little sister could live happily ever after. But it’s not the same today, don’t you think? Times have changed, and sibling rivalry is now evident in every aspect of life. Gone are the days when the elder sister would suppress her emotions for the benefit of her younger sibling.
I happened to find myself in the middle of such a situation recently, and the choice was rather tempting I must confess. It’s Jared from our team who, let’s say, has substantial experience with women. And he had me believing that German chicks are rather appealing when I told him about one of them. Of course, he had no experience to speak of with the other one, who was Czech.
Well, I suppose I must confess again. If I were lucky enough to be speaking of Sabine or Anna, my life would have been more colourful perhaps. But, I’m not so fortunate with the fairer sex, and, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I’m speaking of Skoda’s latest offering – the Rapid, and its sibling, the VW Vento.
Back when Volkswagen invited us to drive the Vento, I came back very impressed – especially with the diesel variant. But let’s not go down that route just yet (this is a Rapid review, after all).
So, we headed to Jaipur to experience the Czech. After two hours of suffering ATR service and discomfort, we couldn’t have been more pleased with the hotel Skoda had chosen to house the Rapid and its guests – it was nothing short of sensational. A Birla property, both Kapil and I were in awe of the sheer awesomeness of the Devi Ratan – which is a stone’s throw away from the main town of Jaipur.
A wake-up call at 5 in the morning the next day, mind you, was excruciatingly painful – especially after a warm water bath the night before, which was potent enough to qualify as a shot of anaesthesia to a moaning patient. But, it was all but nullified by the drive we had ahead of us – proper Rajasthan roads, with much sand and many forts as the backdrop. And this elevated Kapil’s mood, since he would get a lot of opportunities to get behind the camera.
Speaking of photography though, the Rapid isn’t a particularly good looking car. It’s sort of confused about its appearance. The curvy front end is borrowed from the Fabia, and the rear that looks like a mix of the Laura and the Vento. It does manage to look quite balanced when viewed in profile, though, and it certainly shares the Skoda family styling cues. But, in my view, there’s a lot more that could be done on the design front – especially at the front. Let’s just say that the Rapid looks very usual, very regular – it doesn’t exactly stand out from the crowd.
The interiors of the Rapid too tell much the same tale. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. The entire VW family seems asleep at the wheel when it comes to cabin design. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong at all with the interior, it’s just that there isn’t enough theatre in the cabin – it’s just very proper. I want the madness of a Honda Civic or Chevy Beat interior – even mundane cars become interesting by such elements.
So, again, there’s nothing wrong with the Rapid’s interior – it’s very well built and executed. And I understand that the concept that parts sharing keeps the cost low, but I’d still prefer a little more individualism from a car that I’d be living with for a few years.
And the parts sharing continues under the hood as well, as the Rapid shares engines with the VW Vento. Both the petrol and diesel motors are 1.6 litres in capacity and develop 105bhp. The main difference is in torque that’s rated at 153Nm for petrol and 250Nm for diesel – and that makes a world of difference. Naturally, as expected, both engines perform in quite the same manner as they do in the Vento.
If you read my review of the Vento a few months ago, you’d remember that I mentioned that the petrol engine was lacking in outright power, and didn’t quite do justice to the very able chassis. I’m a certified petrol-head – the key word here being ‘petrol’ – but even I sang praises of the 1.6 litre diesel unit, and even advised it to many. Some even bought the car, and are rather happy. Of course, with the Rapid, things are much the same. The petrol is still lifeless and it’s the diesel motor that I’d choose – but that’s also because Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and Mr. Jaipal Reddy believe that increasing petrol prices will resolve all the problems facing our economy. Clearly, they’ve gotten their economics wrong, or perhaps I’m just needlessly voicing the common man’s misery.
With that said, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the Rapid’s diesel engine is strong with a great mid-range punch. You could slot it in 3rd gear, and putter around all day long and then nail the accelerator pedal when you feel like it, and come home happy.
You’ll be happy also because the Rapid is quite a composed car. The steering effort is a little lighter for around-town traffic, which does make it feel a little more disconnected than its elder sister, the Vento. The flip side is that it encourages you to make more enthusiastic inputs behind the wheel, which makes the driving experience a bit more raunchy and wild. But, all the while, the ride quality is simply extraordinary. So, you’d be quite happy both in-town and out on the open road.
Really, what we have here is a classic case of sibling rivalry. The elder one has already managed to impress, but now the younger one won’t let her have it easy. Personally, I prefer elegant and composed women, rather than the naughty ones. But now, I suppose, my life could a little more colourful if I so choose!