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Old 17th June 2013, 13:29   #1
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Default Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report

We brought home a Skoda Rapid Elegance MPI/MT (i.e. Petrol manual) on 7th of March. I have driven around 5200 km so far, mostly in the city with one trip to Kasauli last month. This thread is to basically report my buying experience, test drives (spanning over a period of more than a year) and initial ownership experience.

Summary

What I like:
  • Ride, handling & stability - the car maintains composure pretty well at three digit speeds.
  • Confidence-inspiring brakes.
  • Build quality, compared to some of its competitors. (I just love the thud sound of closing doors in Skoda/VW cars) This also means a superior noise insulation - which is particularly handy in retaining one's sanity during daily grind through city traffic.
  • Ergonomics, particularly for the driver, compared to its competitors in the segment.
  • For a naturally aspirated petrol sedan in its segment, the acceleration is linear & satisfactory especially at high RPMs (>4000 RPM). Of course, I would miss the turbo kick.
  • While the torque is lower than its diesel counterpart, it is good for a petrol sedan in its segment and is adequate to pull through in city traffic at around 1100-1500 RPM.
  • Engine is silent at idle or low RPMs (which is where one is likely to drive most of the time) - something which was crucial in the decision to buy this car (more on that later).
  • Light and easy to drive: steering and clutch are light enough to maneuver easily in city traffic or tight parking situations, yet the steering in particular firms up rather well as the car speeds up.
  • At 1st and 2nd gear, the car cruises smoothly at a constant speed without any accelerator or clutch input: something which is very useful in rush hour traffic.
  • Fairly good FE for a petrol sedan of this size & weight: depending on the level of traffic, it varies between 10 to 15 kmpl in city (around 13-14 kmpl if I can beat the rush hour) and above 16 kmpl on the highway (except hilly sections) - all with AC constantly on.
  • Looks: this might be personal but I love the looks, especially the front section.
  • Little knick-knacks - a driver's arm-rest with a glove-box, cup-holders etc.

What I dislike:
  • Lack of turbo. The engine lacks that turbo kick which pushes you back to the seat. Not much of a punch below 3500 RPM. This engine could have been quite a gem with a turbo.
  • There seems to be some lateral movement at very low speeds. Also certain kinds of bump - or rather a particular kind of bump that one generally encounters at the top of flyovers is accentuated. More details on this later. From my test drives, both these issues seem to be peculiar to the petrol version. (However, the car is a lot more composed if one can speed up a bit.)
  • Stock headlights seem to be weak, even at the highest beam. I generally do not travel on highways at night, but if I do then I will have to do something about this.
  • Cost-cutting at some stupid places: quality of floormat for instance. There was a hole in the driver's floor mat from the heels of my shoes within the first few days of driving. The car cover they provide with the car is also useless. All minor irritants, but irritants nevertheless.
  • Engine sound is not exactly smooth for a petrol engine (especially if you are used to the likes of Honda City, or even Ford Ikon 1.6 that I used to drive) - the grunt is quite diesel-like as you revv up beyond 4000 RPM or so. At low RPMs of course, it is silent.
  • Rear-seat hump from the transmission line that most of the reviews talk about. Thankfully a 5th passenger is quite rare for me.

I am yet to experience the notorious Skoda A.S.S., so I am keeping my fingers crossed on that.

A few initial (and completely random - I am yet to do a proper photo session with the car) clicks of the car:
Attached Thumbnails
Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report-12.jpg  

Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report-32.jpg  

Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report-22.jpg  

Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report-62.jpg  


Last edited by smydtt : 18th June 2013 at 20:41. Reason: To replace pdf images with jpg's, as suggested by the moderator.
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Old 18th June 2013, 22:48   #2
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Default re: Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report

Introduction:

I have been a completely inactive member of Team-BHP for several years now. I regularly visit the forum, and for a long time been planning to contribute, but have not been able to for various personal reasons and professional commitments. I have not even posted in “introduce yourself” forum, due to lack of time. So I thought I should make amends with this thread – a humble attempt to give back to the community what I have taken over the years.

Background:

I am a 36 year old assistant professor in a university. My daily commute takes me from my residence in East Delhi to my workplace in South Delhi – a distance of about 16 km. Add to that regular trips within the city, often criscrossing the entire city, occasional highway trips (about 4-5 times in a year to destinations within 500 km. from Delhi), though I would like to travel a lot more. My regular car, for last six years, is a 2001 model Ford Ikon 1.6, which I bought second-hand in 2007 (with only 13000 km. on the meter). Prior to this, I have owned a Maruti 800 and a Maruti Esteem, all pre-owned. I started driving way back in my parents' Contessa Classic. Apart from the Ford, I also occasionally drive my parents' Opel Astra (1998 model), mostly on highway trips (where it performs better than a Ford Ikon) and my in-laws' Maruti Alto 800.

Ford Ikon 1.6, even after 65,000+ km, is a great car to drive within the city: the acceleration, especially at low rpm, is still quite impressive even when compared to the new generation cars (something which I discovered during test drives, but more on that later).
Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report-i12.jpg
However, a combination of several factors, including aging parts (for some reason, Ford parts seem to age a lot quicker then the cars I had owned before – for instance, my previous vehicle, the Maruti Esteem served me quite fine till around 1,50,000 km, and even after that, apart from the AC which had become too weak to deal with Delhi summers, the car was otherwise fine) increase in cost of maintenance, overcrowded and bad service centers made me look for a replacement. The process started in November, 2011 and came to an abrupt end very soon. It again resumed in December 2012. The second phase was a more planned one where I had time to research and test drive several cars, apart from spending quite some time on Team-BHP reviews. Let me explain the entire process in a little more detail.

November, 2011:

This happened at a time when both me and my wife were going through a particularly busy phase – not exactly the best time for researching and buying a new car. However, the Ford Ikon had its issues: its suspension needed an overhaul, the brake discs and pads needed a change, alternator needed to be changed, and all the four tyres needed to be changed. A rough estimate told me that it would cost me more than a lakh, for a car which would not even fetch me half of that price in the used car market. But I was undecided about a replacement. Both me and my wife quite loved the Ikon 1.6 – I, in particular, loved the way this aging car could take off at every traffic signal the moment the lights turned green, I loved the feedback I got from its steering, and well.. this might be subjective but I loved its looks. I also knew that at that time I could not afford anything more than around 5-6 lakhs, and nothing in that price range impressed me. The first very short round of test drives happened in the November of 2011 in this backdrop.

Chevrolet Aveo:

My parents drive an Opel Astra, and are very satisfied with the service provided at the GM service centers so far. Given that my experience with Ford service centers were less than satisfactory, they advised me to take a look at Chevrolet Aveo which, given its poor sales record, was providing substantial discounts at that time (it advertised a fully-loaded top version at ex-showroom price of 5.26 lacs). So we booked an appointment with Regent Chevrolet at Mathura Road for a test drive. We took the car out for a drive from Mathura Road down the Kalindi Kunj flyover (completely jammed at that time) and the NOIDA expressway. My first impression: was terribly disappointed with the acceleration and (lack of) power. The engine seemed to lack power at ALL rpms. I was used to a decade old Ikon 1.6. I somehow assumed that a car from a newer generation, despite having a 1.4L engine and a higher kerb weight, would somehow be at least as peppy as my ten year old car. After all, all my previous cars were peppier than the ones they replaced. I was completely mistaken. After a few failed attempts at overtaking a few cars, especially at the crowded Kalindi Kunj flyover, finally the car came onto its own on the open roads of NOIDA expressway. The speed seemed to pick up, albeit slowly, and ride quality seemed good, and the car felt quite grounded at high speeds (>120kmph). However, there was no way I could imagine driving this car, especially given the way I was used to driving the Ford. Also, at that time I was aware that the car was towards the end of its lifecycle: scoops of Sail sedan were already doing the rounds, though the showroom executive flatly denied all these rumors. For all these reasons, this car was definitely off the list.

Toyota Etios:

Toyota had just launched Etios, and I had then recently read its reviews on Team-BHP. Galaxy Toyota was right next to Regent, so I just thought of walking into it for a test-drive. They had a test drive vehicle available, so decided to do a test-drive.

First impression: I was quite put-off by the attitude of the sales executive. Not that he was rude, in fact he was quite polite, but it was clear that he was completely vague about the technical details of the car. For instance, when I asked him at what rpm the maximum power is reached, he had no idea what I was talking about. (thankfully, I soon found out that information from the brochure) The test-drive vehicle was a top-end version, so I naturally asked him what was the difference between various versions. He replied that the difference was “only in the wooden panels and chrome”. Later on I walked into a lower version to find that the tachometer was missing. When I asked him about this, he replied “woh rpm meter hai, aap ke kisi kaam ka nahi hai. It is of use only to the mechanics at the service center.” !!! I could not trust a word of anything that the sales executive would say after that – I was completely pissed off by this attempt to be dishonest about the difference between various versions.

The test drive was short: I just took a flyover on Mathura road and concluded that this car was not for me – it was just too underpowered (it was the 1.5 petrol version). It just did not feel like an adequate upgrade over the Ford Ikon 1.6.

Thus ended phase 1 of my test drive. I did not have time to spare anymore, so we decided to repair our Ford Ikon so that it runs for at least a year before we can spare enough time to start looking for a car again. Suspension was overhauled, brake jobs were done, tyres replaced with a new set of Michelin XM1+. While I was set back by about a lakh, the car was now a pleasure to drive. I was definitely much more satisfied with the result than I would have been if I had decided to go ahead with either of the two cars I have tested.


December 2012:

I next got back to this project of looking for a new car last December. The situation was now slightly different: I had changed my job and was in a position to spend a bit more. I had a little more time in hand. Further, my new job allowed me a few diplomatic privileges: so I was exempted from taxes like VAT, road tax etc. I was basically looking at C segment sedans in the range of about 8 lacs. I was open to both petrol and diesel sedans, but which should be peppy enough, with at least 100 bhp, and should be suitable for both city as well as highway drive (i.e. stay grounded at high speeds). Based on inputs from various reviews (including the ones here at team-bhp), I was interested in Skoda Rapid (both petrol and diesel versions), but to be fair wanted to test drive other contenders as well.

Here is an account of the cars we considered/test drove in this phase.

Volkswagen Vento:

We walked into a crowded Volkswagen showroom at Patparganj industrial area on a Sunday, to test-drive both its petrol and diesel versions. Several year-end offers were on. On enquiring, we found that a petrol Vento was available for test drive. We took it for a reasonably longish test drive along Anand Vihar, NH24 till CWG village. The ride quality was good, though I found the suspension a bit too soft for my liking. Acceleration was strictly ok, and that too only at higher rpms. Interiors were kind of nice. Overall, a fairly neutral sort of experience: nothing bad, but nothing that would excite me. Diesel Vento, which is more popular, was not available for test drive.

We later visited another Volkswagen Showroom at Saket Select Citywalk, to enquire about their year-end schemes. However, by that time, we were more or less inclined in favor of its younger cousin, the Rapid (why, I will just explain when I discuss the final decision-making process).

Skoda Rapid:

Now, this was the longest part of the test-drive process, both because this was at the top of my list, and because of idiosyncracies of its various dealers.

First, we begun by walking into the Nawab Motors showroom at Patparganj Industrial Area, right next to the Volkswagen showroom on the same day. The experience here was rather disappointing. To begin with, they only had test-drive vehicle for the diesel version; secondly, they had a “company policy” to allow test-drives only within the premises of Patparganj Industrial Area (a gated walled area with horrible roads and HUGE potholes – maximum speed you can reach without breaking your back is about 30 kmph) since “itna test-drive kafi hota hai”; thirdly, if I actually bought this car from them, for a diplomatic registration (which would provide me with all the tax exemptions) I would require a factory invoice from the dealer, and they had a “company policy” not to provide that. Too many company policies, I thought. By that time most of us were put-off enough to drop the idea of Rapid altogether, but I thought since we had come all the way, let us at least take whatever they are prepared to give me – a test drive of the diesel version within the premises of the industrial area. It turned out to be a dampener – test-drive vehicle was an “Active” version (lowest version), that too in a pretty bad ill-maintained shape (issues with clutch, loads of dust on an already plain dashboard of the Active version). Me and my brother-in-law took it for a short test-drive, but the narrow potholed roads hardly allowed any feel of the car, neither could we get the turbo work in this short drive (since I am not used to driving a diesel vehicle, I am not that quick in revving it upto around 2000 rpm and finding the turbo).

The overall experience was disappointing enough, and along with Skoda's notorious infame about its service, it made both my father and my brother-in-law to advise me against buying a Skoda car. However me and my wife discussed this over and decided to check with other dealers. We contacted two other dealers – Arshia Motors at Connaught Place and Jai Auto at Bhikhaji Cama Place, with a request for a test drive of both Rapid diesel and petrol manual versions. Fortunately, both these dealers turned out to be a lot more cooperative and forthcoming than Nawab motors.

Several round of test-drives followed – we tested the petrol version at both Arshia & Jai Auto, and the diesel version at Arshia. Both Arshia and Jai Auto eagerly provided me with test vehicles and allowed fairly long test drives, and were both prepared to cooperate with the formalities required for diplomatic registration. My observations can be summarized as follows.

Rapid TDI really blew me away. This was the first time I was driving a turbo diesel, and I was totally blown over by the combination of the torque and the turbo. After about a km of initial struggle with a diesel car (I was actually struggling a bit initially at 1500 rpm, since that is the rpm at which I drive my Ikon, but in Rapid diesel this is a rather inconvenient rpm to accelerate) once I got a hang of things, the acceleration was just phenomenal. I was driving in Lutyens' Delhi (where a roundabout appears every half a km) and between each roundabouts I could touch 120 and then slow down enough for the next roundabout without throwing the passengers all over the place. The car was rock steady at high speed. If I was alone making a decision, this would have sufficed for me to buy this car.

However, and here comes the deal-breaker, at least for my wife – she found the NVH levels and the diesel clatter a bit too much for her liking. True, Rapid has a good insulation, as all reviewers and commentators have pointed out, but despite this, what percolated inside the cabin was too much for her comfort. She was also uncomfortable with the level of noise outside the car (since we both work in universities, she argued that this noise would disturb people every time one takes the car near a classroom or a library). She also argued that as the car gets older, with wear and tear on the silencer and the insulation it is only going to get louder and harsher. I was a bit more inclined to ignore the noise, given the phenomenal turbo and torque (not to speak of the economy of a diesel car, though being both economists, we were both of the opinion that in near future the price of petrol and diesel are going to converge, leaving one only with the difference in FE which is not that much), but finally I had to give in. It was not going to be a Rapid TDI, at least this time around.

I had taken two fairly long test drives in Rapid MPI. The engine is smooth and refined (though not as much as, say, Honda City VTEC). The driving dynamics is good, though suspension is slightly softer than Rapid diesel. Acceleration is a lot better than Vento petrol (I do not know why - engine is the same) – it is fairly good above 3500 rpm but the car pulls through pretty well even at much lower RPM – even lower than 1500. Of course there is no turbo, but according to the stats the 0-100 figure for the manual petrol version, even without the turbo, is marginally better than the diesel.

Engine is pretty silent at idle – something which my wife liked quite a lot. At higher RPMs, say beyond 3500 RPM, it is fairly noisy (something I tried to point out to her to change her mind about diesel). But the fact remains, most of the time one is not going to keep the engine at above 3500 rpm (unless one is cruising in the highway at very high speeds). At most noise is going to come, therefore, in short bursts and not continuously as in diesel Rapid.

About road stability: now I am not sure about this, but somehow Rapid diesel felt more stable than the petrol counterpart. It seemed more planted at high speeds, the suspension seemed to be firmer, and while going over humps at the top of flyovers (something quite common in Delhi) Rapid TDI felt more stable. This is not to say that Rapid MPI was bad in terms of stability, but just that the diesel version seemed even better, especially in the way one could ride over the top of flyovers without slowing down.

By the time I had test driven both petrol & diesel Rapids, I was more or less decided that it was going to be either of the two cars. Horror stories of Skoda A.S.S. was making me a bit apprehensive, in fact I still am apprehensive about this – but at the end there was not much else in this price segment that interested me. Also, after the initial disappointment at Nawab Motors, my experience at the other two showrooms – Arshia and Jai Auto – was somewhat more reassuring. Plus, it might be a matter of personal preference, but I prefer the looks of Rapid to most other cars in the segment, including Vento. Although this is not going to be a deal-maker or breaker for me, but the fact that both me and my wife liked the look of Rapid helped us being more favorably disposed towards it. Finally, I was prepared to take the plunge, albeit with a bit of apprehension about Skoda A.S.S.

Other vehicles we considered, but not really:

Renault Duster, Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Skoda Laura TSI.

A test drive of Renault Duster happened by chance, as we were coming out of our first disappointing visit at Nawab Skoda. Renault showroom was right next door. Me and my brother-in-law both had been planning to test drive Duster for a while now, so we decided to walk in. A lot of people seemed to want to test-drive it – the showroom was pretty crowded and all around Duster – the Scala and Fluence were lying ignored! We did a short test-drive within the Industrial Area. We both were impressed with the way we could drive over the horrible bumps and potholes without slowing down much. This was the 110 BHP version, and the power felt adequate in the short test-drive. However, buying an SUV or SUV-ish vehicle was not in our scheme of things. It also felt a bit stupid to consider a vehicle like this when most of the drives are going to take place either within the city or at most on straight national highways.

Honda City: Now this is a more tricky decision. This is the most popular and supposedly the most reliable car in this segment. Its petrol engine is often rated the best in this segment. Given that I was most likely going to buy a petrol sedan, there was no way I could ignore this. I had driven one of my friends' New Honda City earlier, and found it quite nice. The way the vtec engine revs up, along with the super-light clutch, gearshift and the steering, makes city driving a cakewalk. I have no idea how it performs in the highway, though I have not heard too many complaints from people driving this car on that front. However, something about this car - perhaps the superlight feeling that it gives, perhaps the super-thin body (you can make a dent on the door by pressing it with a finger!) - but somehow I could not identify with the car. Maybe this is not a completely rational response, but then not all decisions are completely rational in any case. My wife concurred with me on this, and so Honda City was off the list.

Hyundai Verna: About a year back I drove my friends' old (non-fluidic) Verna from Bangalore to Kalpetta. I found the performance OK. Significantly, this was a diesel vehicle which did not have the characteristic diesel clatter that my wife disliked, so this was perhaps one diesel vehicle which she might have been ok with. But neither me nor my wife likes the looks of the new fluidic verna (again, a completely subjective opinion - I know many people who loves the new fluidic look). Moreover, based on short drives of one of my colleague's new Verna, I felt that although the new fluidic Verna has improved acceleration, it for some reason felt a little less stable. The short drive was inadequate for me to confirm this anymore, but the reviews here on Team BHP as well as elsewhere pointed to lack of steering precision and feedback of the new fluidic Verna. Plus, the diesel Verna exceeded my budget a bit, so did not make much sense.

I also considered Laura TSI. After testing Rapid TDI, I was quite taken in by turbo, and started looking for turbo petrol. There were some year-end discounts on Laur TSI. In addition, unlike Rapid which was completely indigenous, Laura had some imported component; given that I am exempted from tax and import duties, this might have further reduced the difference between Rapid and Laura. However, I would still end up spending more than what I would have liked at this stage, so this was eventually discarded.

For a while I toyed with the idea of trying Linea TJET+. But the after sales records of Fiat as well as Tata, given my early experience with Ford, dissuaded me from exploring this any further.

We did not consider Nissan Sunny and Renault Scala. All reviews as well as technical specs pointed out that these cars were underpowered for their weights, and after my experience with Etios and Aveo, I did not want to waste my time with an underpowered cars. The only USP of Sunny seemed to be its space, which is of no use to me. We also did not consider Ford Fiesta and Classic - I was not inclined for another Ford vehicle, and the only Ford showroom we visited at Bhikhaji Cama Place seemed a bit too keen to sell only diesel and was underplaying the petrol version of both Classic and Fiesta.

Finally, decision:

Now came the time to finally take a call. I had made a rather detailed table on pros and cons of all the cars we had considered so far, but finally, it boiled down to two variants of Rapid - it was going to be either Rapid TDI or Rapid MPI. The only other vehicle which came close to consideration was the Vento. However, for at least the petrol version, I found the Rapid to be more responsive to Vento. For the diesel version, if noise and clatter was going to be the main consideration, then Vento certainly had more of it than Rapid. So it had to be either Rapid TDI or MPI.

My wife was clear on this: she could not tolerate the diesel clatter of Rapid TDI. I, on the other hand was more undecided. I loved the TDI engine, despite the sound. I also had a feeling that MPI engine was on its way out - once diesel prices are decontrolled and the artificial demand in favor of diesel vehicles is normalized, MPI engine is going to be replaced with the TSI (perhaps the 1.4 and 1.2 TSI which is used in European Rapid). All in all, it did not seem to be a great idea to invest on a non-turbo petrol engine which you know will be phased out soon. Add to that the extra economy of a diesel engine, at least at current prices, and the extra road stability that Rapid diesel offered. Also add the fact that, after a few road tests, now I had actually started liking the sound of the TDI engine! Also, this set me thinking - if I am buying a petrol engine, then is Rapid the best choice in the given price range? After all, this goes against the prevalent wisdom about superiority of German diesels and Japanese petrols?

Finally, I went back to my list again, but this time with the Rapid/Vento TDI deleted from the list. It was easier to decide now - after all I did consider most of the available options, and Rapid MPI came out on the top of the list once I had struck off Rapid TDI. So if it was going to be a mutual preference of me and my wife, then it had to be Rapid MPI. So Rapid MPI it was going to be.

Which variant: Next, it was time to choose the variant. This was easy - I was clear that the the car must have airbags for both driver and passenger, and only the top Elegance variant provided this. All the other frills were add-ons - music system, wider tyres with alloys etc.

Color: Compared to other parameters, I am somewhat indifferent about colors - I am more keen on what the car feels from inside. I liked the blazing red rapid, but was unsure about maintenance. Cappuccino Biege, on the other hand, seemed like a more neutral color which would be easier to maintain. I also liked the way Cappuccino Biege changed its shade depending on the amount of light and direction of sun.

So now it was time to book a Rapid MPI Elegance MT, Cappuccino Beige.

Booking and delivery:

I booked the car in February with Jai Auto. (The main reason for choosing Jai Auto over Arshia Motors was that Jai Auto had their own Skoda service center at Mathura Road) I also got the “Skoda Shield” - extended warranty offer from Skoda (which includes one year insurance and the 2+2 years of warranty) by paying additional 40K. They had a silver and a white MPI Elegance Rapid in their stock, but I was prepared to wait for the Cappuccino Biege. They said it would take about 3 weeks for the car to arrive from Pune. Fine, I thought – for the diplomatic privileges like tax exemptions I also needed to get some paperwork done, which would take some time as well.

Finally, the wait was over. I got a call from Jai Auto that the car had arrived in their stock yard. I had also finished with my paper work by then. Meanwhile they had provided me with the VIN no. and I checked from the link provided in the Team-BHP advisory that this was a February 2013 manufactured vehicle. The odometer showed 38 km. which looked reasonable given that the car was driven from their stock yard at Gurgaon to Bhikhaji Cama Place showroom. So all was fine on this front.

Delivery experience:

It was a mixed experience. The staff at Jai Auto, in general, are polite and cooperative; however, they are also prone to make silly mistakes in their paperwork. One such major goof-up by them marred our delivery experience.

Basically, since I was going to get the car registered on my own, I was supposed to pay the ex-showroom price plus Skoda Shield. The proforma invoice, which was on an Excel sheet, contained both the items, but somehow the total sum excluded the Skoda Shield. I have no idea how they managed to do this – under normal circumstances excel should have automatically revised the total amount once you insert the Skoda Shield. Since it was on an excel sheet I was also careless enough to not manually tally the total sum. So I just forwarded the proforma invoice as it is to MEA for their approval (required for diplomatic purchase) and also arranged for the finances accordingly. They did not inform me about this mistake till last moment – after the PDI when I was about to make the final payment by approving the RTGS which I had already setup on my account to be paid to Jai Auto. Naturally we were quite upset and flatly told them that we will only pay whatever is the final amount that we were required to pay as per the proforma invoice – they had no business revising it at the last moment. In any case, this is the amount which was approved by MEA as well. A long round of argument followed. We were upset enough to walk out of the showroom over this. But at the end, we did not want to return without the car – especially after the PDI of the brand new car lying in the showroom all decked up with ribbons (and with the knowledge that this was a February manufactured vehicle being delivered to me in the first week of March). At the end they gave some additional discounts as a compensation for the inconvenience caused by their mistake and a compromise was reached.

I would like to believe that this particular goof-up is not representative of the general quality of service at Jai Auto. To be frank, apart from this particular goof-up which marred our experience they have largely been cooperative. So I would rather prefer to forget this incident. One thing though, this was not the only time they goofed up on the paperwork. Jai Auto has branches both in Delhi and Gurgaon, and are prone to mix up papers from these two branches. So my proforma invoice was from their Delhi branch while the sales invoice was from their Gurgaon branch (carrying a different TIN no. from a different state). What's more, for some paperwork when I requested for a duplicate copy of the sales invoice, they issued one which did not tally with the original version! There was even one version of their sales invoice which had a Delhi address but a Haryana TIN no. All these might not matter under normal circumstances, but since for diplomatic registration and VAT refund I had to send all these papers to the Government, I had to carefully check each document for errors and get each of these goof-ups corrected. I have to say, though, that every time they goofed up, they apologized profusely and sent me a corrected version without any delay. But these mistakes should not have occurred in the first place.

Other than these goof-ups, though, rest of the experience was largely trouble-free. We were a bit tired after these arguments lasting almost the entire day, but at the end I just wanted to forget about it all and just enjoy the new car. A brief stop at the petrol pump for refilling and checking the tyre pressure, and then we were off in the new car for the drive back from South Delhi to East Delhi with the rush hour traffic at its chaotic best!
Attached Thumbnails
Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report-aftermath.jpg  


Last edited by smydtt : 19th June 2013 at 11:13.
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Old 19th June 2013, 12:57   #3
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Default re: Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report

Initial ownership experience:

The car has done about 5200 km so far. This includes mostly city driving, with one round trip to Kasauli last month, and another to Chandigarh this week. A few broad observations:
  • The car feels quite at home on the highway. I like driving cautiously and am not too fond of adventures on public roads. This car has substantially brought down the time taken to cover the distance from, say, Delhi to Chandigarh without me having to alter my driving style. The brakes are particularly reassuring, especially when compared with the brakes of Ford Ikon (which always keeps you guessing!)
  • The car is very comfortable to drive both on the expressway and the city. I find I can drive for much longer periods at a stretch without break and without getting tired. Within the city. despite being not a small car it is surprisingly easy to maneuver in, say, tight parking situations.
  • Though one cannot compare it with turbo-charged engines, the acceleration is adequate for most practical situations provided one (a) is in the right gear, and (b) does not cringe at revving the engine beyond 4000 RPM. For instance, on the expressway, if one is driving at around 100-110 kmph on 5th gear, the engine is around 2500-3000 RPM. For a quick overtaking, one has to downshift to 4th. On the other hand, if there is no urgency, the car can pretty much handle the 5th gear at around 50 kmph.
  • Fuel efficiency: By now I have a better idea of the fuel efficiency. I have found that it depends a lot on your driving style. Sedate driving has given me (in non-rush hours) above 15 kmpl in city and 17.2 on expressway (provided one drives steady at around 110 kmph). The last figures seem to be marginally higher than what Skoda advertises for this car. A bit more spirited driving, on the other hand, can bring down the city figures to below 10 and highway figures (driving between 130-140 kmph) to around 13. A more realistic figure for me would be around 13-14 kmpl in the city (non-rush hour), around 10-11 kmpl in the city (rush-hour), and around 15 kmpl in the highway.
  • This car drives better with minimum use of clutch. It helps if one alters one's driving style keeping this in mind. Thus, even in a rush hour bumper-to-bumper traffic, it is possible to disengage the clutch at very low speeds (with AC) – something which will not be possible in most other cars I have driven without causing the car to jerk or stall. Similarly, at higher speeds, the brakes coupled with engine deceleration (something which I used to do only while driving downhill but not otherwise) works very smoothly. Clutch needs to be engaged only while changing gears.
  • Climate control on the AC is a useful feature. I generally set the temperature at around 20 or 21 degrees and let the auto mode decide on the fan speed. It automatically adjusts according to the temperature. I have already driven through the peak summer with the temperature above 45 or 46 degrees in the hot afternoons – I must say that the AC has been largely effective – though it takes slightly longer to cool the cabin compared to smaller cars. Climate control feature is particularly useful in long drives when it is not that hot – it does not allow the cabin to get too cold.
  • I have not been able to figure out why there is a slight lateral movement at very low speeds. Is this normal in other petrol Rapids? It does not happen in Ford Ikon. It also does not happen in the Rapid if I do the same stretch a bit faster.
  • Headlights are useless. I don't know what to do with them. I am a bit apprehensive about getting after market electrical installations – I have heard about cases of fire from faulty electrical installations. I want to play safe on this front, but surely you cannot drive at night without proper street lights with this set of headlights.
  • Horns are not very useful too. What happened to those famous “Skoda horns”? Why did they put such useless horns? Again, I do not want to tinker with electrical circuits. I do not use much horn in the city or straight highways, but would require better horns for hill driving.
  • I find the ORVM very nicely designed. It offers a wide enough view, but tends to protrude much less compared to many other cars due to the angle at which it is installed. So I find that the incidences of pedestrians and motor-cyclists running into the ORVMs have reduced. Also, one need not fold the ORVMs at every tight situation.
  • Speaking of ORVMs, though, I would have really appreciated electrically foldable ORVMs. This is just in addition to those numerous things which, not a deal-breaker, would have greatly improved the overall experience of this car (like bluetooth, USB support etc.)
  • Noise insulation is very good. In the initial days, with the windows up and the AC on couple of times I have wondered why, say, the parking attendant is moving his lips without saying anything! In fact, the horn is actually not AS bad as it seems from inside – it is actually better and more effective if you hear it from outside.
  • On bad roads the suspension is a bit noisy. Of course, with good sound insulation you do not get to hear it as long as the windows are up. Since we bought the car just at the onset of summer, the only time I have heard this sound so far is on the way to Kasauli.
  • The stock floor mats and car covers, as I have already mentioned above, are useless. I have already changed the car cover, and am soon going to buy a new set of floor mats.
  • I have not required an engine oil top-up yet.

All in all – my initial experience has largely been good. I am yet to experience the notorious Skoda A.S.S. though, and am keeping my fingers crossed on that front.

I have not been able to do a proper photography session with the car yet – which explains lack of photos in this thread.

Last edited by smydtt : 19th June 2013 at 13:03.
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Old 19th June 2013, 15:57   #4
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Default re: Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report

Congrats on the purchase and this is one excellent review. I like the level of detail on the article throughout. I hope you have better luck with the dreaded Skoda A$$ than what many of our fellow BHPians have had.
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Old 19th June 2013, 17:20   #5
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Default re: Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report

Congrats on your Rapid and this is an extremely informative review
Its a brilliant car and deserves to sell much more than what it does.
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Old 25th July 2013, 00:23   #6
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Default 7000 km update & overheating problem: suggestions please!

Thank you all for your comments.

Well, unfortunately my car met with an overheating problem today. I am yet to take it to service center, but am a bit anxious with the nature of the problem. Any pointers would be welcome.

First, the update: the car has run absolutely fine till today evening,. The Odometer shows around 7000 km. This consists of mostly city commute and three small highway trips – two to Kasauli & one to Chandigarh.

Today we were returning from Kasauli. The car had behaved absolutely fine on its way to Kasauli as well as on its way back, both in the plains and in the hills. As is my habit, I checked all the fluids before starting from Delhi this Sunday. While starting from Kasauli for our return trip, I could not do the same (generally I do this before any long drive) as it was raining cats and dogs there, but I had no reasons to believe anything was amiss. The car did absolutely fine during the entire 300 km. journey till Delhi border – largely cruising between 100 and 120 for most of the stretch in the plains. As I entered the Delhi border, I faced a moderate traffic snarl at one of the signals on outer ring road. It was then that I suddenly felt that the AC was not cooling properly (the AC was on almost throughout the stretch as soon as we left the hills and worked fine throughout). For a moment I thought maybe it is the acclimatization (coming from the cool hills after a few days). Even as I was wondering, suddenly the temperature sensor started beeping and I could see fumes coming out of the bonnet! I immediately switched off the ac and the engine. (Incidentally, one of the things I dislike about Rapid and many other modern cars is the lack of temperature needle. In all my previous cars, I used to keep track of the needle and take pre-emptive steps the moment the needle would start shooting off. A needle in this case could have easily warned me earlier and prevented a situation like this.)

Anyway, I came out and pulled up the bonnet. In the meantime, the lights turned green and the mad rush of honking from typically impatient Delhi traffic begun – one impatient driver brushed the side of my bumper in his rush to beat the greenlight. So reluctantly I closed the bonnet and started the engine. It took me a few minutes to pull the car to the side and open the hood again.

First, the coolant level: it was above max (but this was the hot expanded coolant) and some of it was overflowing. Hopefully the fumes were from the overflowing coolant (it was form the left side). I waited for about 15-20 min., and meanwhile gave a call to Skoda helpline. The first thing I wanted to know was whether I have already damaged the engine. I was worried about the smoke, but then I switched off immediately when the sensor beeped. In the absence of an old school temperature needle this is the best you can do. They said that engine will not be damaged unless you continue to drive after the beep. They offered to tow the car, but at that time, coming back from a wonderful trip this was the last thing I wanted. So after waiting for another 15-20 min, I restarted the car, and checked the cooling fans. All the fans were working. So I switched off the ac, drove the car keeping the rpm below 2000, switching off at every red light and drove for about 5-6 km. and then pulled up to the side and opened the hood again. The temperature seemed to be under control this time, though the coolant level seemed to have gone down a bit. I restarted, drove the same way and managed to bring the car home (a distance of about 20 km.) without any further trouble. The engine seemed to behave normally during this – while I kept the revv below 2000, there seemed to be no unusual loss of power. After reaching home and parking the car, I checked by switching on the ac. It started, signalling that temperature was not that high now.

Having reached home, I allowed the car to cool down for about an hour and then opened the hood. I noticed that:

The coolant level had now gone down to a much lower level then what it was – and below the min. mark.
  • Coolant had also split outside the reservoir in the area around it.
  • Checked engine oil: it was lower than what it was before the trip this Sunday (but well within specified limits). Was scared that coolant might have leaked and mixed with engine oil – on the face of it this does not seem to have happened.
  • Switched on the ac with an eye on the second cooling fan. It started with a stutter – starting to rotate after a couple of attempts. Is something obstructing its movement? Could not see anything from a visual inspection. (To be frank, I had not observed how does this fan start normally – whether this stutter before starting is normal).

I now plan to take this car straight to the service station, which unfortunately can happen only after a couple of days. Meanwhile, I am anxious about possible cause of this problem, especially after the car ran so beautifully for the entire 600 km from Delhi to Kasauli and back. What are the possible causes – anything serious?
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Old 25th July 2013, 09:00   #7
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Default Re: 7000 km update & overheating problem: suggestions please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by smydtt View Post
Thank you all for your comments.

Well, unfortunately my car met with an overheating problem today. I am yet to take it to service center, but am a bit anxious with the nature of the problem. Any pointers would be welcome.
Do not worry, Even though overheating can be bad for the engine, I wouldn't worry too much just because it overheated once and you took swift action.
However, I would recommend an oil change, since high temperature can breakdown oil.
Please check if there is anything obstructing the radiator fins (AC evaporator coil and radiator are placed quite close to each other, so if both are blocked, you would notice significantly reduced ac and overheating engine.)

And if you are worried about the engine heating, buy a cheap bluetooth OBD 2 adapter and torque app (for android), and investment of < 1500 INR. Will give you host of readings including the Coolant temperature.
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Old 25th July 2013, 10:28   #8
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Default Re: 7000 km update & overheating problem: suggestions please!

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Originally Posted by smydtt View Post
Switched on the ac with an eye on the second cooling fan. It started with a stutter
The Rapid has two physical cooling fans? Do the fans share the work load or are they present for different functions.

Fan starting with a stutter is not a good sign. This surely is the problem area and cause for over heating. The audio/visual alert for over heating is a bad design. Unfortunately, many cars are dropping the temperature gauge. The alert should give you enough time to pull over safely.
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Old 25th July 2013, 13:32   #9
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Default Re: Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report

I have booked an appointment with Skoda service center the day after tomorrow. I am not going to use the vehicle till then. Also I opted to drive the vehicle to the service center (the same way I drove it back home - with ac off, rpm < 2000 and refilling the coolant reservoir with water) instead of getting it towed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by allajunaki View Post
Do not worry, Even though overheating can be bad for the engine, I wouldn't worry too much just because it overheated once and you took swift action.
However, I would recommend an oil change, since high temperature can breakdown oil.
Thanks, I would definitely get the oil checked and changed if necessary when I take it to the service station.

Quote:
Originally Posted by allajunaki View Post
Please check if there is anything obstructing the radiator fins (AC evaporator coil and radiator are placed quite close to each other, so if both are blocked, you would notice significantly reduced ac and overheating engine.)
This possibility did occur to me. I did try to look for an obstruction from a visual inspection but could not find anything. But then, the entire area is not clearly visible from outside, so this needs to be checked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by allajunaki View Post
And if you are worried about the engine heating, buy a cheap bluetooth OBD 2 adapter and torque app (for android), and investment of < 1500 INR. Will give you host of readings including the Coolant temperature.
Now this does sound useful. Can you provide some more details, like where can one buy this and how does this work?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandeepmohan View Post
The Rapid has two physical cooling fans? Do the fans share the work load or are they present for different functions.

Fan starting with a stutter is not a good sign. This surely is the problem area and cause for over heating. The audio/visual alert for over heating is a bad design. Unfortunately, many cars are dropping the temperature gauge. The alert should give you enough time to pull over safely.
The second fan starts when the temperature crosses a certain limit. With ac, this fan is by default always on. Definitely the stutter with which the second fan is starting looks weird.
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Old 25th July 2013, 15:24   #10
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Default Re: Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report

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Originally Posted by smydtt View Post
Now this does sound useful. Can you provide some more details, like where can one buy this and how does this work?
OBD 2 Scanner : ebay obd2 bluetooth search result

Torque App : Torque Pro

OBD Port is located on the bottom right side of driver seat. You can google a bit, our own team-bhp site has a long running chain : http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...dian-cars.html (OBD (On-board diagnostics) for Indian Cars)
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Old 28th July 2013, 00:57   #11
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Default Re: Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report

I took the car to the service center today. According to them there is no problem with the car – both the coolant circulation system as well as the fans are working properly.

So now the question is, what caused the overheating problem during my return trip from Kasauli two days back? I do not have a clear answer to this yet. Their response to this is unconvincing.

The first response of the service adviser to this query was that this might have happened because the coolant reservoir cap might have been left loose and coolant leaked from there. This is unconvincing because:
  • The coolant cap was not opened in recent past. The reservoir is transparent and one need not open the cap to check its level. I last opened the cap perhaps one month back, and the car must have run at least 2000 km since then under various conditions (rush hour city traffic, open highway cruise, hill roads etc.)
  • When the car got overheated, the coolant level was fine. However, immediately after it overheated, some coolant did come out. I had assumed this to be due to overheating leading to expansion, but I am not sure about this.

The second response was even more unconvincing: that this might have happened due to the car continuously running for a long time with AC - “this sometimes happens and is normal”. My last break before this overheating episode was at a Barista joint near Karnal about 120 km away. How can a C-segment sedan overheat from about 120 km of sedate highway cruise in fifth gear at a speed of about 110 kmph (in fact the entire trip this time was sedate – the entire 300 km trip including hill section returned a FE of 16.2 on a petrol Rapid)? I made it very clear that I was completely unconvinced by this explanation.

Next the “senior technician” (the one who, I was told, worked on the car) took me for a road test. It was clear from my conversation with him that he had not been properly communicated about the entire episode by the service advisor. After I narrated the entire incident, he started inspecting the fan. Of course, this was limited to just a visual inspection. I have no idea if this is what their inspection is limited to. I pointed out that the fan starts with a stutter, but he claimed that this was normal.

So at the end, I am as clueless as before on what caused the overheating. Could this be a freak incident – say something from the highway getting stuck on the front grill and temporarily obstructing the fan (I remember reading one incident like this on team-BHP: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...it-second.html (Solo drive Chennai-Mumbai-Chennai, A decision made in split second)) and then later on flying/falling off on its own? Or is there a more serious undetected problem leading to further overheating episodes in future? The car seems to be running fine at the moment. I am keeping my fingers crossed – let us see how it goes.

One thing for sure – overall the service center did not inspire too much of confidence. I just hope that the risk I consciously took, despite being aware of notorious Skoda A.S.S. does not come back to haunt me!

This visit to the service center also included the 7500 km free check up and Wheel Alignment and Balancing job.
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Old 28th July 2013, 10:45   #12
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Default Re: Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report

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The second response was even more unconvincing: that this might have happened due to the car continuously running for a long time with AC - “this sometimes happens and is normal”.
First of all congratulations on your new ride and thanks for giving us an excellent and detailed review.

Coming to the problem this second explanation had me baffled. Reminds me of 20 years back when we used to have a Maruti Omni and I remember as a kid when my dad used to keep stopping and putting water on so many occasions into the coolant perhaps because the car used to get heated very fast with constant highway driving.
But if they give that as a reason in 2013 then they ought to be flogged. These cars can constantly do speeds in excess of 120 kmph all day long provided all the fluid levels are normal.

So what was there final verdict? That you keep driving the car and hope that it does not appear again? Would you be comfortable taking her out on highway trips in that case since it can be very scary to find yourself stranded on the highway.
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Old 28th July 2013, 13:24   #13
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But if they give that as a reason in 2013 then they ought to be flogged. These cars can constantly do speeds in excess of 120 kmph all day long provided all the fluid levels are normal.

So what was there final verdict? That you keep driving the car and hope that it does not appear again? Would you be comfortable taking her out on highway trips in that case since it can be very scary to find yourself stranded on the highway.
Exactly my point. For a modern car, it is simply unacceptable and unprofessional on the part of Skoda to say that car might get overheated from a few hundred km or a few hours of continuous highway cruise. If it got overheated, then there is a problem with the cooling system.

Incidentally, I am told that the sensor beep is activated at 122 degree celsius, which to me looks like a pretty high temperature. Why on earth do the modern cars remove temp gauge? Normally we used to take pre-emptive steps the moment the temp crosses around 105 or so. Removing this is a really bad design.

Their final verdict was that there is no problem with the cooling system of the car as of now. There are two reasons why I am unhappy with this verdict:
  1. The fact that they were trying to bluff or give absurd unacceptable explanations for the cause of overheating. If you are unable to detect why it happened, it is fine - I can accept if you say that at the moment there is no problem, and we cannot determine why it happened. But to give such absurd explanations is unacceptable.
  2. I am also not very impressed with the quality of their inspection. As far as I could see, this was just limited to a visual inspection, along with checking that all the wires connecting the fan were secure. Isn't there a better way of inspecting if the cooling system is working fine?

I suppose I have no other option than taking the chance and see if the overheating problem returns. I have no immediate plans of highway trip in the next couple of months. Till then I suppose I need to keep a close watch during my daily city commute. It seems that for sometime now I will have to live with the possibility of being stranded on the road at an awkward moment.
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Old 28th July 2013, 18:08   #14
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Why on earth do the modern cars remove temp gauge? Normally we used to take pre-emptive steps the moment the temp crosses around 105 or so. Removing this is a really bad design.
The temperature needle is surely helpful. My Altis has it. In addition to monitoring aspect, I also usually follow it every morning after a cold start and wait till the ambient operating temperature is reached before pushing down on the accelerator hard. Until then usually just cruise at 1.8-2k rpm.
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Old 15th October 2013, 15:03   #15
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Default Re: Skoda Rapid (MPI Elegance MT): Test-drives & Initial Ownership Report

This is one of the most informative threads on the petrol Rapid. Would you be able to update with how your ride is doing now. Wish you safe and happy miles ahead.
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