Skoda is planning to reinvent its next-generation Rapid hatchback to make it a more credible contender to rival the ubiquitous Volkswagen Golf.
The new model, which arrives early next year, will be overhauled with an entirely different nomenclature as Skoda attempts to reposition the Rapid in the competitive hatchback segment, according to Skoda sales and marketing boss Alain Favey.
He said: “How should I put this? Our presence [in this segment] is very humble. With the current Rapid Spaceback, we didn’t manage to come through to convince people that we are a credible competitor in this segment.”
Favey added that the new car is not a successor to the current model. Along with a new name, there will be “completely new technology, completely new styling”.
He said that the new Rapid should double in sales in its first full year – 2020 – compared with the current car. In Europe, the Rapid sold 66,512 units in 2017.
To create more distance between the Rapid and the Octavia, which straddle either side of the hatchback segment, the Rapid fastback will not be replaced, with only the Rapid Spaceback, as it is currently known, remaining.
Explaining the differentiation between the Rapid and Octavia, Favey said: “The new Rapid will not be available as an estate, while the Octavia Estate makes up a lot of the Octavia’s sales. The Rapid is clearly a Golf rival in design, while the Octavia is a three-box hatch.
“The real Golf contender will be Rapid. You will not be able to be confused between the new Rapid and Octavia.”
A next-generation infotainment system to be rolled out across the Skoda range and described as “state of the art” by Favey will also be launched on the Rapid. However, the floating screen showcased in the Vision X compact SUV concept earlier this year will not make it to conventional Skoda models. Instead, it will be saved for the car maker’s first stand-alone electric model, the production version of the Vision E, due in late 2020.
The engine line-up of the new Rapid will consist of the VW Group’s latest petrol engines, including a 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit with power ranging from 84bhp to 109bhp, plus a 1.5-litre unit with up to 148bhp. A 1.6-litre diesel is likely, too, while no electrified variants are currently planned.