Matt Prior
13 November 2012

What is it?

This is our first steer in the UK of Skoda’s new small family car, the Rapid, which sits between the Fabia and the Octavia in the ever-expanding Skoda line-up.

Also expanding, as a result, will be the next-generation Octavia, which will arrive next year, bigger and pushed further upmarket to allow sufficient space for the Rapid to breathe.

At launch, prices of the Rapid range from under £13,000 to as much as £18,000 before options, although we reckon the best value is had at the lower end of the range. Lower, not lowest: that honour goes to a three-pot 1.2-litre petrol producing just 74bhp which, we suspect, would struggle to even pull a banner saying “loss leader”. We can but suspect, though, because, perhaps sensibly, Skoda didn’t have any that we could try.

We have driven the next up in the range: the 1.2 85bhp petrol, which is a turbocharged four-pot driving the front wheels through a five-speed automatic gearbox.

This review, though, is of the Rapid range’s only diesel, the 1.6 TDI with 104bhp.

What is it like?

Skoda’s quite keen that its brand and its models all represent the same thing – space and value - regardless of where in the world they’re sold.

So the Rapid exudes precisely the sort of style you’d expect. Inside, it’s almost a non-style, so functional, clear and basic are its dials and materials.

It’s also spacious – tall adults can sit behind tall adults quite comfortably. And although the Rapid is only 4.48m long (a touch bigger than the Focus/Astra/i30 norm) it’s so well packaged that apparently there’s more room inside than in a current Octavia (short for its class, at 4.57m long).

The little notchback makes the Rapid look like a saloon but it’s actually a very practical hatch, with 550 to 1490 litres of luggage space depending on what you do with the rear seats.

The 1.6 TDI motor rouses to a bit of a grumble, louder I think than the class average, but still acceptable. And the Rapid retains the pleasing control weights and characteristics that are a feature of other Skodas: it’s all positive yet light, easy yet precise. The (five-speed) gearbox stirs slickly, and engine response is positive. Skoda says the diesel Rapid is good for 0-62mph acceleration in 10.6sec and that it can return 64.2mpg. I believe the former, and returned economy approaching 50mpg in mixed driving.

The Rapid is an undemanding companion. It rides reasonably, although lacks the ultimate suppleness and control that marks the best cars in the class. Its rear suspension is by torsion beam (unlike the most sophisticated small family cars, which generally have a multi-link arrangement), and I think you can tell. The ride’s a little noisy at times: nothing significant, but enough to remind you it was built down to its price. Motorway cruising is comfortable; the engine more audible than it would be with a six-speed ‘box. But, again, it’d be churlish to criticise harshly.

There’s not a great deal here for the enthusiastic driver, but you’d expect that too. The Rapid hangs on gamely before falling into predictable, manageable understeer. It steers with precision and ease in a straight line, and its offer of consistent, feeless accuracy is all we’d have asked for in the twisties.

Should I buy one?

Maybe, if you approach it with a mindset of sensibleness, rather than from a car enthusiast’s perspective. There are keener drives in the class, including the Hyundai i30, so the Rapid is best viewed as a fuss-free, uncomplicated and easygoing small family car. A  loaf of unbranded brown bread in a world of speciality baking.

At more than £17,000, though, the competition starts to look quite fierce for the diesel Rapid, which sits a long way above this car’s starting price.

Towards the bottom end of its range, the Skoda seems to have more to offer. It shows impressive levels of space and good performance and economy for its price. That’s where we’d point our recommendation.

Skoda Rapid SE 1.6 TDI CR 105PS

Price: £17,100; 0-62mph: 10.6sec; Top speed: 118mph; Economy: 64.2mpg; CO2: 114g/km; Kerb weight: 1254kg; Engine type, installation: 4 cyls turbodiesel, 1598cc, transverse; Power: 104bhp at 4400rpm; Torque: 184lb ft at 1500-2500rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
11

No.

1 year 49 weeks ago

Not when you can get a discounted Ford Mondeo 1.6TDCI Edge hatchback for £16,220 (drive the deal)...

I do hope Skoda don't lose their mojo.

True Tom, but wait until the

1 year 49 weeks ago

True Tom, but wait until the Rapid is out a few months and see what drive the deal, and the likes, offer it at

-----

10 years of Smart ownership over, sensible car mode activated

Engine "grumble"

1 year 49 weeks ago

This 1.6 diesel, as fitted to the Octavia at any rate, is not particularly refined. The Octavia is the near universal mini-cab where I live (good deals available to cabbies perhaps) and individual power units vary from the acceptable to the positively noisy, harsh and vibratory. The worst offender so far was the newest one. An elderly Vauxhall Vectra was far better from the passengers point of view.

Are Skoda slipping back or is this just a model tailored for the parts of the world where the market is still brisk?

That ad

1 year 49 weeks ago

Car sounds OK (I guess...) But that TV ad! Yes, the new Skoda Rapid has - HEADLIGHTS!! That work!! At least the dad isn't dancing at his daughter's party.

And another thing...

1 year 49 weeks ago

IS this Skoda rapid? HAVE Aston complained about the name?

It strikes me that this car

1 year 49 weeks ago

It strikes me that this car is almost trying to replicate the formula of the original Golf - functional, clean and unpretentious - before the VW became what it is today.

 

 

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Good honest car

1 year 48 weeks ago

Ive seen the TV advert for this car, & it made me think- this is the probably the only car left that is just trying to be a good honest family car, it doesnt try & be sporty, or upmarket, it just does what it does. Its like the Ford Escort or Cortina updated for 2012. I really like it.

Looked at the configurator too, great to see a car maker offering more than just different shades of grey & blue. Ill have mine in bright green please!

1987 Skoda Rapid

1 year 48 weeks ago

I remember borrowing my grandads 1987 Skoda Rapid Coupe.  A rear engined coupe, a little like a Porsche 911 (it had 4 wheels, engine, seats etc).

I guess Skoda could complain to Aston?

The packaging is the clever thing

1 year 37 weeks ago

If it's bigger inside than the Octavia, which has prodigious external dimensions then that is some achievement.  The engine choice seems artificially restricted though; the 1.4TSI 122bhp engine is a nice one and would suit this car very well, I think.  Also much cheaper than the 1.6 diesel but with the same massive torque (pulls cleanly from just over 1000rpm in our Octavia)

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Our Verdict

Skoda bridges the gap between Fabia and Octavia with new hatch

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