Back when the BS-VI emission standards came into force earlier this year, Skoda – and the whole of the Volkswagen group – discontinued its entire diesel engine line-up in favour of all cars being powered by gasoline engines. Since then, the carmaker only relied on petrol-powered cars with diesel engines out of the pictures, but only for the time being.
The 1.0-litre TSI engine, with gasoline direct injection and VW’s commendable engineering, has since found its way into many VW group cars, in a variety of engine and gearbox combinations. It’s there in the premium hatchback Volkswagen Polo, the mid-size sedan Volkswagen Vento, and also the mid-size sedan from Skoda cars, the one and only Rapid.
The injection of the 1.0-litre TSI engine into all these cars have breathed a new lease of life into the rather ageing models. This engine is mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed AT in all of these machines.
Where the Polo, Vento, and Rapid were earlier mated to a DSG auto box with the older engines, all of them are now equipped with a conventional torque converter auto box, which, on paper, should be marginally slower but less of a hassle to maintain in the long term. We’ve already tested the manual iteration of the Skoda Rapid TSI, and it’s time we shed some light on how the 1.0-litre engine performs when paired to a 6-speed AT, and just how well it justifies the premium of about 1.5 lakh bucks it demands over the similarly specced manual variants.
Starting from the outside, there’s nothing that distinguished the AT version of the Rapid with the manual one. I would go as far to say that there’s new with the Rapid in terms of how it looks since it had received a facelift update back in the day. The same old timeless design with elegant lines is carried forward and it continues to look modest despite its age. Must say, though, that the design of the Skoda Rapid has aged really well.
It’s when you step on the inside the Skoda Rapid starts to feel a little bit older than from the outside. You see, the elegant and no-fuss exterior design also has its influence on the dashboard, therefore, it, too, is clean and elegant. However, it is built out of hard plastics and it certainly feels less special than many of its new contenders. The equipment list is also rather shy, as the car misses out on keyless entry with push-button start, LED headlamps, and the all-important sunroof. It also doesn’t get soft-touch materials or leatherette upholstery for the seats.
Under the hood, the 2020 Skoda Rapid gets the all familiar 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder unit with gasoline direct injection, which is good for 109bhp and 175Nm of torque. The car you see here comes mated to a 6-speed torque converter automatic gearbox.
We’ve already had a taste of this engine with the manual derivative of the Rapid TSI. The three-cylinder engine is rather refined and free-revving. Moreover, being paired to an automatic gearbox, the turbo lag of this engine is quite well masked in this version of the Rapid. Counter in the fact that the 175Nm of torque kicks in the same time as its manual sibling, and the Rapid AT comes across as quite a punchy model. The gearbox is quite rapid – no pun intended – and it doesn’t shift early as most automatics do. Instead, the gearbox has been tuned to shift when the engine revs above 2,000rpm hence putting it back into the meat of the powerband. This works rather well and makes the Rapid quite an exciting sedan to drive.
Shift to the S mode from the gear lever – sadly, there are no paddle shifters – and the transmission now holds onto gears just a bit longer to really extract the most out of this turbocharged engine. But, sadly, the torque converter gearbox is not as lightning-quick as the DSG gearbox of yore. One more thing to note is that the Rapid just accelerates quite rapidly – again, no pun intended – when you release the brake, which is something to wary about in start-stop traffic and while parking. The Rapid AT, like the manual, proves to be a rather good preposition. It is adequate for the city and it’s surprisingly quick for a conventional AT. However, folks used to the older DSG gearbox might find it to be a bit slower. That said, if you’re looking for a driver’s sedan with the convenience of an automatic, there’s hardly anything to fault with the Rapid, especially for the aggressively priced Rider Plus trim. Also, read the latest car comparisons, only at autoX.