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Old 23rd April 2012, 18:55   #1
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Smile Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT

Hi,

My wife and I took delivery of our Skoda Rapid Ambition Automatic (Cappuccino Beige) on Sunday, Apr-22 and this is a short review of the whole process from decision making to taking final delivery to the initial experience. We have driven it over 1000 KMs in its first week including a trip up the hills to Shimla and back to NCR!


How we decided

We were thinking of buying a new car since couple of months with focus on ease of driving without compromising on the fun part. Now what more comfort can there be in a car than an automatic transmission in the Indian traffic conditions?

We researched all AT cars in India up to and including the Compact Sedan segment. Following is a comparison (of the AT) of all these cars and their on-road price.
Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT-c_at.png
(All prices before any discount/scheme. Prices in Gurgaon more by up to 10K.)

Many of these cars were out rightly rejected by us: A-Star (cramped), i10 Asta (why thrust sunroof on us Hyundai?), Dzire (I don't like its looks), i20 (way too overpriced), City (wife doesn't like its looks and I liked Rapid/Vento's AT over it in the test drives), SX4 (looks, so much for 4AT?) Verna (Hyundai must be crazy to put a 4-AT in this car and then pricing it higher than City/Vento in the name of bells & whistles).

Both my wife and I are pretty enthusiastic drivers and she'd often say while driving our Santro that I'll miss the fun of an MT in an automatic car and I'd agree. So an AT without any means of changing gear manually was out of picture. This sent the new Fiesta out of contention (and also the fact that it is badly priced) even though it claims ~20% better fuel efficiency over Rapid/Vento.

Now there were only three cars in the race - Rapid Ambition, - Elegance and Vento. Everybody knows that Rapid and Vento are same (almost) car under the skin but if we wanted the higher variant then we'd have gone for the Vento. However, our thinking went like this - the price difference between Rapid Ambition and Vento is around 1.45 lacs and would be enough to pay for fuel for at least a couple of years and some accessories while enjoying the same engine and transmission!

The Rapid Ambition AT is a very good VFM choice for us as we were not forced to go for the highest variant. I wish that manufacturers in India start providing AT option on all variants soon.

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(At the showroom)


Booking and Delivery

Since we wanted the car early we began inquiring at all Skoda dealerships in NCR one by one to check if they had it readily available and if not what was the waiting period gonna be. 6-8 weeks was the standard answer that most dealers gave. Then my brother-in-law inquired in Gurgaon and luckily the car was available in-stock with the dealer Giriraj Motors. He and I went to the dealer on Friday Apr-20 to do a PDI (as per the team-bhp checklist) which was satisfactory.

It was then time to do some necessary haggling for discount/freebies. It was already known to us that the Rapid is Skoda's hottest selling car as of now and no dealer is ready to give up a single penny extra. We tried our best, especially my brother-in-law who is himself into enterprise Sales and knew well how to 'connect' with these guys. But the dealers' logic was simple - if something is selling really well then why would they give discount? Discounts are available on all other Skoda cars but not this one. So we settled for a corporate discount of 15K + door mats + mud flaps and handed them a cheque and told them that we'd like to take the delivery on Sunday.

On Saturday I informed the Sales guy the time of delivery as 10:30AM and asked him not to paste any stickers advertising the dealership or anything else on the rear windscreen. We also asked him to put floor mats and mud flaps and keep the car ready on time.

We reached there on Sunday at 11AM and were happy to see that the car was ready for delivery. All three of us then sat down to check the paper work and after some typo corrections paid them the remaining amount. They now starting decorating the car by putting ribbons and presented the keys, a bouquet and chocolate box to my wife. It was a very happy moment for all of us, we shook hands with everybody, said thanks to them. Finally the car was ours. I'd say the dealer experience was very good over all considering what we had read about other Skoda dealers.

We drove it straight to the Kali Mandir near Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in Delhi for the Car Puja ceremony. This place was recommended by my brother-in-law and is a very popular place for such puja. We were nicely surprised by seeing two Panditjis perform a very elaborate puja. They even looked well aware of cars. When one of them asked me to open the bonnet, I was searching for the support stick and he showed the place under the bonnet to latch the stick into!

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(Panditji performing puja of the engine bay)

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(After the Puja)


Initial Driving Experience

It was 2pm after the puja and we were feeling hungry so headed for lunch at a restaurant in Connaught Place. After we came out of the restaurant, the weather had turned nice, there was cool breeze and slight drizzle. So we thought why not take the Rapid for a sedate long drive on the Greater Noida Expressway. It received its first tankful at odo 67 Kms and we then took a detour towards Pari Chowk on our way back home.

During that week we drove it few more times for short trips ranging from 4-20 kms just trying to get used to the car as there was a weekend trip to Chandigarh/Shimla coming up. Based upon our City driving and the Shimla trip, here is what I feel about the car while driving under various conditions:

City: If you're okay with a limousine style of drive then the D mode is for you. But if you like to be fast (not rash) then you'll get frustrated in D. If you drive with a light foot, the transmission up shifts very rapidly in D mode. It puts 4th gear before 40 and 5th gear before 50 with the rpms around 1300-1500. So you can imagine it is very difficult to overtake a slow moving vehicle in front of you as the car will not pull ahead quickly enough to let you change you lane, overtake and come back in your lane.

Thankfully there is a Sport mode which works like a charm under such conditions. Of course you can kick-down on the accelerator but I find it better to just flick it into the Sport mode. Therefore the mode I think more comfortable driving under is:
- Bumper-to-Bumper OR No traffic: D mode
- Light/Medium traffic which needs quick overtaking/lane changing: S mode

Highway: I feel that its more sensible to drive in D mode on the highways as generally you're cruising at a constant speed and there is more time available to overtake somebody in your lane. For those occasional quick over taking moves, you can either put it into the Sport mode or shift down manually by going into the Tiptronic mode from D mode. However, the Sport mode does not use the 6th gear which will negatively affect your mileage if you're just cruising. So it makes more sense to cruise in D6.

Uphill: On our way to Shimla, I initially drove in D mode. There was no problem in this till the end of the new Kalka bypass (a very useful & beautiful road indeed). But when the climb started after that, I soon realized that D is not the mode to be in at all. The problem is that you'll always, at least, be in a gear higher than the gear you'd have selected in a manual car. Sometimes even two! This is a big problem on the hills and can even be risky! There will not be enough pulling power to overtake a slow moving truck quickly and come back into your lane (absolutely must) before that blind turn.

I put the lever into Sport mode and all problems were gone. I then started climbing and overtaking with confidence and drove all the way in S mode. The car was then going in S3/4 gear most of the time as opposed to D4/5 earlier.

I would like to highlight a very good thing about the car - it never rolled back on slopes up the hill when starting from a standstill. In fact, it starts creeping ahead as you release pressure from the brake pedal. On a very steep stretch of road to our rest house which is built on a lonely hill top, the gradient was 20-24 degrees and even there the car didn't roll back and held its position! For an idea, the steepest slopes on the highway to Shimla are generally max 10-15 degrees. By the way, you can measure gradient of a surface by downloading any angle measurement application for your smartphone and calibrating it correctly. This made me think what is the Hill-Hold feature that Ford advertises about the Fiesta AT?

Downhill: If there was a feeling of lack of power in D while going up hill, there was a feeling of free rolling when going down the hill. And I had to use slight brakes very often to control the speed. Again not a very good situation. I decided to use the Tiptronic mode this time and started changing the gear manually. The centre armrest was obstructing the movement of my left elbow in Tiptronic so I had to raise it all the way up. I approached every turn in the 2nd gear and got out of it in 4th. The gear shift in Tiptronic is pretty quick. However, after sometime I thought it was too much of a hassle shifting manually at every turn. So decided to put it into Sport mode and relax. Tiptronic is certainly the mode which gives you the most control and you can also feel the real power of the engine. I'd definitely be using this mode more often when the engine run-in is complete.

The car also handled superbly at the sharp turns of the hills whether going uphill or downhill. Not once did I feel the car going off on a tangent at the curves.


The big question: Deti kitna hai?

Since these are initial days of the car, we drive it very gently keeping a light foot on the gas pedal. I've been using tank-full to tank-full method to determine its fuel efficiency under various road conditions and following is the result. To be frank, we are very happy with the results considering that the car is still in the run-in period.

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More Observations

pros:
- Gearshift is very smooth. The D and S modes up shift before ~2000 and ~2500 rpms respectively under light foot driving.
- Good fun to drive in the Sport or Tiptronic mode.
- One of the best things that I like about this car is its stability and handling both at high speeds and at sharp turns on the hills.
- The car doesn't roll backwards if starting from standstill on a climb. Never felt any problem climbing the hills even with luggage and three people.
- Good fuel efficiency on the highways.


Cons:
- The horn is not quick to reach to and may require lifting your hand from the steering edge to press it hard. This is not ideal in Indian conditions.
- Since the top part of the dashboard is dark brown not black like in Vento, it reflects in the windscreen under bright sunlight. Use polarized sun glasses if it causes too much of a trouble to you.
- The windows are not tinted at all. I think some cars come with slight heat reducing tint in this segment.
- The front seat headrests are slightly visible in the inside rear view mirror which along with the rear seat headrests block bit of a view through the rear glass.


Some more pics

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Thanks for reading,
RS

Last edited by ronline : 2nd May 2012 at 11:47. Reason: Adding more sections to new ownership post
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Old 23rd April 2012, 19:06   #2
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Default Re: Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT

Congrats on you new drive. Happy and Safe motoring. Keep us posted on your ownership experience.
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Old 23rd April 2012, 19:25   #3
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Default Re: Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT

Congrats ronline. Good looking car in a great color. Very handsome choice.

In your sheet I dont understand one thing. How come Vento AT is more expensive than ANHC V AT (when ex-showroom price of City is about 20k more than Vento?) Also City Paddles work in both D and S mode. Vento/Rapid's Triptronic works only in D.

Have lot of fun and safe miles in your car. Enjoy.
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Old 23rd April 2012, 20:33   #4
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Default Re: Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT

Quote:
Originally Posted by joslicx View Post
Congrats ronline. Good looking car in a great color. Very handsome choice.

In your sheet I dont understand one thing. How come Vento AT is more expensive than ANHC V AT (when ex-showroom price of City is about 20k more than Vento?) Also City Paddles work in both D and S mode. Vento/Rapid's Triptronic works only in D.

Have lot of fun and safe miles in your car. Enjoy.
Hi joslicx,

The 2012 manufactured Vento Petrol Highline prices have increased by around 30-35K ex-showroom. Therefore its now more expensive than City VAT.

Regarding the City Paddles, it may have been an oversight by the sales guy who brought it for the test drive. So I didn't try them in D mode!

rgds,
RS
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Old 25th April 2012, 14:28   #5
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Default Re: Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT

Congrats on owning the Rapid.
Have lot of fun and safe miles in your car.
Do post more interior pics at your convenience.

Cheers!
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Old 25th April 2012, 15:13   #6
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Smile Re: Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT

@ronline,

Congrats of the AT, I guess should be the first on TBHP.

What was the OTR cost of the car? As per you how does the car handle esp in the B2B traffic, sharp turns etc. Do post some interior pics too.

Happy mile crunching and drive safely.
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Old 25th April 2012, 15:16   #7
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Default Re: Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT

Very nice review. Lovely looking car. Very sensible option to consider an AT in todays world as it takes so much stress away!
Wish you loads of fun and lots of happy miles and smiles in your Rapid.
Cheers
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Old 25th April 2012, 15:28   #8
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Default Re: Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghodlur View Post
@ronline,
What was the OTR cost of the car? As per you how does the car handle esp in the B2B traffic, sharp turns etc.
Thanks ghodlur.

OTR price is around 8.98 lacs after the corporate discount.

As regards to handling in bumper-to-bumper traffic I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever. It starts crawling slowly as soon as you take the foot off the brake pedal. It's such a bliss! I haven't taken any sharp turns yet though.

Rgds,
RS
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Old 25th April 2012, 15:33   #9
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Default Re: Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT

Nice comparison sheet there. Good to know there are 16 AT cars under 12 big ones.

It is a smart move by Skoda to provide AT in the middle variant.

I love the colour. Have fun with the Rapid!
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Old 25th April 2012, 15:43   #10
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Default Re: Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT

Quote:
Originally Posted by ronline View Post
Hi joslicx,

The 2012 manufactured Vento Petrol Highline prices have increased by around 30-35K ex-showroom. Therefore its now more expensive than City VAT.

Regarding the City Paddles, it may have been an oversight by the sales guy who brought it for the test drive. So I didn't try them in D mode!

rgds,
RS
Hi ronline

Actually I have booked the Vento AT. Post budget price has increased by 20k (so net increase for on-road price is about 22k). New OTR in your city (CHD) would be 10.11L (for reference, OTR for Skoda Rapid Elegance is 10.02L)

Honda has also increased prices after the budget. New on-road price (post-budget) in CHD for City V AT is 10.33L.

So there is a difference of about 20k in ANHC and Vento price. It is the same difference here in Bangalore as well (Got this confirmed with both dealers).

Additionally there is a Corporate Discount of 14k-31k on offer for Vento. There is no discount on ANHC at all now!

Just wanted to let you/others know for reference.

Enjoy.
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Old 25th April 2012, 16:15   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joslicx View Post
Hi ronline

Actually I have booked the Vento AT. Post budget price has increased by 20k (so net increase for on-road price is about 22k). New OTR in your city (CHD) would be 10.11L (for reference, OTR for Skoda Rapid Elegance is 10.02L)
Hi joslicx,

When did you book? Its kind of interesting, when I went to a dealer in Delhi last Thursday, Apr-19, he showed me an official email on his blackberry regarding Vento Highline AT to be manufactured April-June this year. It clearly mentioned ex-showroom Delhi price as ~9.72 lacs i.e. further increase of 34K after the post-budget increase.

It also mentioned some addons like - rear camera with park assist, leatherette upholstery, steering mounted audio controls, stereo with USB & Aux in etc, Climatronic display backlight color change etc. Are you getting all of these?

The Chandigarh dealer also confirmed this.

Rgds,
RS

Last edited by ronline : 25th April 2012 at 16:15. Reason: corrected typo
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Old 25th April 2012, 16:15   #12
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Congratulations on your new car mate! Really liked your detailed analysis. How is the car faring in city traffic and how has the experience been so far?
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Old 3rd May 2012, 15:09   #13
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Note from Mod : Thread moved to Initial ownership section. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 3rd May 2012, 15:31   #14
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Default Re: Delivered: Skoda Rapid Ambition AT

Congrats on the new car! Happy and safe driving.

Any view on the rear seat comfort and ergonomics?
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Old 3rd May 2012, 15:39   #15
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Many congratulations , looks really nice in that color , and a hill trip within the first few days - i am still waiting for mine to happen!
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