• Skoda Rapid was previewed by the Mission L concept
  • 15-inch alloys are standard; 16-inch items, seen here, are optional
  • Gaping grille is partly for effect, partly for cooling
  • Skoda badge is bonnet rather than grille mounted
  • An ice scraper lives in the fuel filler cap
  • Cabin is unimaginative but functional
  • Interior packaging is exceptional
  • Large, analogue dials are simple and easy to read
  • Rear seats don't fold flat
  • Material quality is acceptable - nothing more, nothing less
  • Rear legroom is generous for the class
  • Rapid is effortless and uneventful to drive
  • Five-speed gearbox is acceptable in the 1.2 TSI, but more powerful models could do with an extra ratio
  • The 1.2-litre TSI engine develops 84bhp
  • At the limit, the Rapid errs towards understeer
  • Oversteer can be provoked in the wet, but the ESP soon calls time
  • The car as white goods. Utterly competent, but equally unengaging

In our experience, the Rapid is a car that is particularly reactive to the type of engine it is fitted with. We noted that the 1.2 TSI model rode, steered and handled considerably better with this 1.2-litre petrol engine than with the 1.6-litre turbodiesel equivalents.

With the heavier diesel lump under the bonnet, the Rapid has an underlying heft to its body movements that this lighter 1.2-litre car does without, leaving this our choice in the range dynamically.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The ESP reigns-in both understeer and oversteer firmly but never aggressively

Everything it does, it does with ease – and not only more ease than other models within the Rapid line-up, but also with more ease than most of its rivals. A Kia Cee’d and Hyundai i30 have intentionally had a feel of greater dynamism engineered into them. Ditto a Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

The Rapid, meanwhile, goes about its business in a slightly old-fashioned, easygoing way. The control weights are all consistent and light and it rides with medium pliancy, trading a loping gait for some body control but ending up neither truly comfortable nor truly deftly damped.

It displays, in its handling, the same sort of thing it exhibits in so many other areas: middle-of-the-road competence. If that’s where Skoda was aiming, and we strongly suspect it was, then it has hit the mark.

It just seems a shame that, for a company whose other products manage to incorporate value for money with a driving experience that feels like some effort has been poured into it, the Rapid feels like a retrograde step compared with, say, the Yeti.

Top 5 Family hatches

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Skoda range

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    22 December 2014
    Entry-level diesel MPV shares its three-cylinder engine with Mini but, due to long gearing, lacks the authoritative punch of a convincing premium product
  • Car review
    17 December 2014
    The replacement for the CL grand tourer has some big boots to fill
  • Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 AMG Line Shooting Brake review
    First Drive
    16 December 2014
    Elegant, alluring and with some welcome improvements, but not good enough to lead the class
  • First Drive
    15 December 2014
    Hushed, flexible and remarkable value for money. Arguably more fit-for-purpose than any other ‘S’.
  • 2015 Mazda CX-3 review
    First Drive
    12 December 2014
    The Mazda CX-3 has style and substance, and deserves consideration for anyone wanting a compact urban SUV. Here’s hoping Mazda gets the price and equipment right