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 hatchbacks

  • Seventh generation Volkswagen Golf
    More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
    The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Seat Leon
    Seat offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    4
  • Peugeot 308
    The 308 marks the first time a carry-over name has been applied to an all-new Peugeot

    Peugeot 308

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Skoda range

Driven this week

  • Lotus Elise Cup 250
    First Drive
    29 April 2016
    The fastest, most track-focused and most expensive Elise ever made. It's simple, raw and immersive
  • Porsche 911 Targa 4S
    First Drive
    27 April 2016
    Slick looks, open-top fun and 911 handling sound brilliant, but the Targa has historically trailed the Coupé. How does the new model fare on UK roads?
  • Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d
    First Drive
    26 April 2016
    Jaguar's debut SUV wowed us abroad, but does it still impress as much here on the UK's roads?
  • Car review
    26 April 2016
    Electric saloon is ramped up beyond ‘insane’ for yet more effect
  • Car review
    26 April 2016
    Is this a genuine supercar slayer for top-rank sports car money?