In our experience, the Rapid is a car that is particularly reactive to the type of engine it is fitted with. Our test car 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.
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.