The Skoda Rapid was first introduced in the Indian market back in 2011, and it is based on the same platform as the Volkswagen Vento. Then in late 2016, the upscale automaker launched the facelifted version of the Rapid. Since then, this compact sedan has been trudging along fairly well. However, due to the new BS6 emission norms that came into effect earlier this year, Skoda had to yank the plug on the diesel version of the Rapid. This left a chasm that is yet to be filled. But recently, a CNG-powered version of the Skoda Rapid was spotted in the country at a fueling station. While the car that was spotted wasn’t wearing any type of camouflage, it most likely is just a testbed.
Many Indian buyers have been drawn to CNG-powered cars in the many years since they were formally introduced. The benefits of CNG will be known to many readers, and now, it seems like even the Germans might be interested. Since modifying an existing model to work on CNG is easier and cheaper than producing new diesel-fueled cars, a CNG version makes some business sense as well. On the other hand, upscale brands such as Skoda may not be too keen on realizing such a project. A prime reason for that is the (often unspoken) fact that CNG fuel and the cars it powers are usually scoffed at. While petrol is seen as the top contender for, “Look, I have money!” game, CNG cars don’t score too well on that front.
Having said that, if introduced, the Skoda Rapid CNG might very well work in the carmaker’s favor. The versatility of having two choices of fuel, with the option to switch between them, isn’t lost yet. As of now, there is only one engine choice that is available on the Skoda Rapid. The sedan comes with a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder motor that uses 4 valves per cylinder, along with direct fuel-injection and dual overhead cams as well. The result is, despite its puny size, this three-popper develops 109hp and 175Nm of peak torque. It drives the front wheels via a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox, and is quite happy to rev out to 5,500 rpm without much fuss. Fuel economy for the Skoda Rapid petrol variant ranges between 16 to 19 kmpl.
If launched, the CNG version of the Rapid will likely come pretty well loaded with features. For reference, the petrol-powered Rapid can be had with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control with rear vents, and cruise control. It also gets faux leather seats, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, auto-folding wing mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and parking sensors with a rearview camera. Skoda has also equipped the Rapid with up to 4 airbags, ABS with EBD, and speed-sensing automatic door locks.