The Czech car maker is hoping to reverse the Rapid’s fortunes when the next generation arrives in early 2019

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 new Rapid will use the MQB AO platform, which is already used on models including the Seat Ibiza and VW T-Roc, as well as the next Fabia due in 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.

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Comments
4

10 July 2018

The demise of the Rapid fastback will be mourned by at least one group of drivers in the UK:  minicabbers.  Our local taxi firm runs a number of them (and the SEAT Toledo equivalent).  They are unsophisticated, but robust and cheap with a huge boot.  The Spaceback variant is something of an enigma: more expensive (the last time I looked) but with a smaller boot space than the Fabia estate, rear seats up or down. 

10 July 2018

I think Skoda could be about to make things confusing in its range.  Judging by the scale with which it sells, I think markets across Europe accept that the Octavia is the brand's Golf-rival, and that the USP is greater size and so space and practicality for a slightly lower price and different spec mix.  The Rapid is their 'bargain' offer, never really intended for certain markets (like the UK).  If they reposition the Rapid's competitor closer to the Octavia's price-bracket space, they will just cannibalise sales from the Octavia and probably from the space the existing Rapid occupies.

The car-buying public gets what it deserves, unfortunately ...

10 July 2018

 I think your telling us that the as yet unnamed Rapid replacement will use the MQB platform. MQB and MQB AO are one and the same. Would VW really have one platform under the Golf and a different one under the Skoda Golf alike. Judging by the used VW have got out of the Rapids platform, MQB has a least a decade of life still to go. Tacking new letters on really doesnt change the fundamentals on what already looks like a heavy platform when applied downstream of the Golf segment.

11 July 2018

Will there be a sister Toledo as well? That model fits in even worse to the SEAT range in Western Europe, being bigger than the leon but cheaper and more basic!

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