Turbodiesel engine makes for a punchy Rapid and straight-edged styling is refreshing, but poor ride is a disappointment

What is it?: 

Skoda's new Rapid is a curious car. It sits between established marketing categories yet is roomier than the previous Octavia, a car nominally from the category above. It's based on diverse VW Group 'modules', specifically a PQ26 front end (current Polo) and the torsion-beam rear end of the US-market Jetta and lowlier Beetles, chosen for the vast boot it allows. There's something of the original Seat Toledo in its approach, which makes sense as the next Toledo will be Rapid-based.

What's it like?: 

We've already driven the petrol-fuelled Rapid TSI 1.2, so now it's the turn of the 1.6-litre turbodiesel version. This comes in 89 or 104bhp guises, with a seven-speed DSG gearbox an alternative to the usual manual five-speeder in the lower-powered version; our test car is the more powerful one, still with a competitive 114g/km CO2 output or 104g/km if you go for the Green Tec model with stop-start.

The engine is predictably gutsy, albeit much less refined than a petrol 1.2 TSI with the same power. It's clear, though, that there is something inconsistent going on with the suspension. 

This diesel proved fidgety and unyielding over bumps, as though fitted with a bad aftermarket suspension kit, yet this unintentional 'sportiness' wasn't reflected in the dull, inert handling balance. 

The engineers admit there is still suspension work to do, and the 1.2 TSI we sampled had much more of the fluency and absorption expected of a Skoda. We suspect that the small petrol cars have already been more finely tuned by Skoda's boffins.

Should I buy one?: 

Styling is partly subjective, but for this writer the Rapid's clean, straight lines and razor-crisp ridges are a welcome change from the contrived sweeps, slashes and bulges of too many new cars. Skoda says the Rapid won't date as quickly. We agree.

John Simister

Skoda Rapid 1.6 TDI 105 Elegance

Price: £15,500 (est); 0-62mph: 10.6sec; Top speed: 118mph; Economy: 64.2mpg (combined); CO2: 114g/km; Kerb weight: 1179kg; Engine: 4cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power: 104bhp at 4400rpm; Torque: 184lb ft at 1500-2500rpm; Gearbox: 5-speed manual

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Comments
16

16 July 2012

A disapointing chassis from Skoda, I bet thats down to Volkswagen, jealous of previous Skoda cars being the best to drive of the VAG group. If its not a good drive, I wouldnt buy one.

16 July 2012

There's a heck of a lot of the current polo in that front end design - if this is replacing the Octavia and likely to sell in huge numbers to the UK minicab market does it have the same sort of space that the Octavia has?

16 July 2012

Orangewheels wrote:

There's a heck of a lot of the current polo in that front end design - if this is replacing the Octavia and likely to sell in huge numbers to the UK minicab market does it have the same sort of space that the Octavia has?

Where have you been?! Haha! This isn't replacing the Octavia at all. Rather, it is sitting between the Fabia and Octavia, supposedly offering similar space to the latter, though it is much narrower. The next Octavia will be larger. The Rapid probably will appeal to minicab drivers though. 

I'm still not sold on the looks. It is very clean and elegant, but the front appears very high to me, and the details (lights, grille) almost seem to big for it, contrasting with the tall, slightly slab-like sides.

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

16 July 2012

Agree with your point on the styling. Doesn't look as fussy as a lot of slash/flame-surfaced cars now.

Earlier I was queued beside a new Ibiza and noticed that the front midline crease sweeps down and a 2nd crease line emerges from the doors somewhere towards the bootlid - At best it is too fussy, at worst it makes the car look like it has accident damage!

Was hoping it would ride as well as most Skodas do, almost in a French manner. Hopefully they'll sort the suspension out yet.

(Your last paragraph is inserted twice.)

16 July 2012

Looks good to me, and very good value.

16 July 2012

How can blandness date? ...

16 July 2012

Surely 99g/km would be achievable - the same engine manages it in much larger cars. A sixth gear would be good too. Overall though, I like the conservative styling and the 1.2TSI 105 with a manual 'box would be a nice car.

16 July 2012

Apologies to Mr. Shakespeare! It is almost as if Skoda, having outperformed parent VW with the Yeti have had their legs slapped and made to produce this anodyne thing as a reminder that they must know their place! From the road test it does not seem to handle very well and the reviewer does not exactly enthuse about the power unit. So no compensation then for the dullness.

I cannot comment about the handling but, if the power unit is the same one as commonly fitted to Octavia minicabs, the variation between individual units is surprising. Some are like a throwback to an earlier era in terms of rattle and vibration. Others are satisfactory but they are never as good for NVH as the PSA 1.6 Hdi or, for that matter, the Vauxhall unit.

Are Skoda losing it as one national journalist suggested?

16 July 2012

Flatus senex wrote:

Apologies to Mr. Shakespeare! It is almost as if Skoda, having outperformed parent VW with the Yeti have had their legs slapped and made to produce this anodyne thing as a reminder that they must know their place! From the road test it does not seem to handle very well and the reviewer does not exactly enthuse about the power unit. So no compensation then for the dullness.

I cannot comment about the handling but, if the power unit is the same one as commonly fitted to Octavia minicabs, the variation between individual units is surprising. Some are like a throwback to an earlier era in terms of rattle and vibration. Others are satisfactory but they are never as good for NVH as the PSA 1.6 Hdi or, for that matter, the Vauxhall unit.

Are Skoda losing it as one national journalist suggested?

Losing it? I don't think so.

I think the Rapid is aimed at a certain type of driver, offering space and value which the original Octavia offered (and still does, really). If they can iron out the ride flaws then this should do okay. But I don't think there's any other evidence that Skoda are 'losing it'.

It is in VAG's best interests to keep Skoda as desirable as possible if they want sales. Sure, VW have too much of an ego which became very evident when VW UK refused to do the attractive finance package on the Up! as offered on the continent, claiming it would "sell itself", but I can't imagine that they would consciously try to harm Skoda's success. They're the ones that bought them with the aim of bringing them up to scratch, and that's what they've done. Let's just hope they aren't ruining it.

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

16 July 2012

Mini1 wrote:

It is in VAG's best interests to keep Skoda as desirable as possible if they want sales. Sure, VW have too much of an ego...........  Let's just hope they aren't ruining it.

Of course you are right in theory but never underestimate jealousy and thoughts about "status" in human affairs. The journalist referred to in my previous post felt Skoda were underestimating how rapidly Korean makers were advancing and now comes along this model which is not only underwhelming in appearance but also, so it seems, in terms of suspension development as well.

If VW are indeed so egotistical to feel that stodgy Middle England is so badge obsessed that it will continue to buy its products willy nilly, then it deserves the "running kick up the @rse" which another magazine says is administered by the DS3 to the Mini!

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