Skoda Rapid Hatchback (2012 - ) review
The Skoda Rapid is the first model to arrive with Skoda’s latest design language, which majors on clean, elegant and timeless design.
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The Rapid is full of neat touches, including an ice scraper which lives in the fuel filler flap and a dedicated place under the passenger seat for a high-visibility vest. Its likely trim levels will include S, SE and Elegance, although details are still to be released. Our test car was fitted with touch screen sat-nav and a USB and AUX input was built into the centre console.
The Skoda Rapid is the first model to arrive with Skoda’s latest design language, which majors on clean, elegant and timeless design. It’s certainly an unfussy car, with a strong crease – or tornado line – flowing from the headlights all the way along the sides of the car to the rear light clusters. It follows in the footsteps of the Citigo city car, displaying Skoda’s new badge on its bonnet instead of the grille. The Rapid sits between the Fabia supermini and Octavia in the model line-up and resembles a saloon car, but actually has a rear hatchback for better practicality. It shares its basic layout with its sister car, the SEAT Toledo, and rivals include the Chevrolet Cruze, Kia Cee’d hatchback and Hyundai i30.
Similarly, the interior is straightforward, with a sense of ‘rightness’ as soon as you get comfortable. All the controls are just where you’d expect and there’s a pleasing sense of quality to the cabin materials. It’s certainly a step above the Cruze, with a more traditional feel than the Kia Cee’d.
Nowhere is the trend to ‘downsize’ engines more evident than in the Rapid, where the largest motor is a 1.6-litre. There are four petrol choices, with between 74bhp and 120bhp. We think the sweet spot in the range could be the 1.2-litre TSI with 84bhp, as it’s quick enough for gentle town and motorway driving and has excellent economy. There’s also the 1.6-litre, which is a diesel with either 89 or 104bhp, which provides quiet and hassle-free driving.
The Rapid punches above its weight thanks to seating for five, best-in-class passenger head and knee room and a 550-litre boot. For comparison, the Kia Cee’d has 380-litres of space behind the rear seats. Essentially, you’re getting the space of a model from the much larger Ford Mondeo class, in a smaller package and for less money. The boot can expand to 1,490 litres with the rear seats folded down.
Skoda not only has an excellent reliability record, but it’s backed up with high customer satisfaction scores too. So, even if something were to go wrong, you should be in safe hands. However, the Skoda’s standard three-year or 60,000 miles warranty (with the cost option to extend to five years and 100,000 miles), is now being surpassed by manufacturer’s including Chevrolet, Toyota, Kia, Hyundai and Vauxhall, which offer a minimum of five-years as standard.
Ride and handling
The Skoda Rapid is first and foremost about usefulness, but does that make it bad to drive? No – it’s perfectly adept – but don’t expect too many thrills. The ride is calm courtesy of reasonably soft suspension, which should make it comfortable on UK roads. Its steering is light and accurate and the Rapid is well adept to motorway cruising. It’s also helped by the fact it only weighs around 1,200kgs – making it impressively light for this size of car.
Perversely, the least powerful 1.2-litre MPI petrol engine is also the least economical, which makes it one to avoid. Far better is the turbocharged 1.2-litre TSI with 84bhp, thanks to its 55.3mpg average economy and 119g/km of emissions. The 89bhp diesel is even better, with 67.2mpg and 109g/km – dropping to 65.7 and 114g/km if you go for the seven-speed DSG automatic ‘box.
Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control are standard across the range as are front, side and curtain airbags. Together, they helped the Rapid to a maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP in crash tests. On top of that, the Rapid is fitted with height-adjustable three-point seatbelts, with tyre pressure monitoring, cornering beam fog lamps and hill-hold control also available.
The Rapid is slightly odd, because it’s hard to compare it against other models. If you need a set of wheels which will be affordable, and give you the space of a much bigger car, it has no real rivals. And it’s exactly this which makes it another clever model from Skoda.