From £18,930
Turbodiesel engine makes for a punchy Rapid and straight-edged styling is refreshing, but poor ride is a disappointment

What is it?

Skoda's new Rapid is a curious car. It sits between established marketing categories yet is roomier than the previous Octavia, a car nominally from the category above. It's based on diverse VW Group 'modules', specifically a PQ26 front end (current Polo) and the torsion-beam rear end of the US-market Jetta and lowlier Beetles, chosen for the vast boot it allows. There's something of the original Seat Toledo in its approach, which makes sense as the next Toledo will be Rapid-based.

What's it like?

We've already driven the petrol-fuelled Rapid TSI 1.2, so now it's the turn of the 1.6-litre turbodiesel version. This comes in 89 or 104bhp guises, with a seven-speed DSG gearbox an alternative to the usual manual five-speeder in the lower-powered version; our test car is the more powerful one, still with a competitive 114g/km CO2 output or 104g/km if you go for the Green Tec model with stop-start.

The engine is predictably gutsy, albeit much less refined than a petrol 1.2 TSI with the same power. It's clear, though, that there is something inconsistent going on with the suspension. 

This diesel proved fidgety and unyielding over bumps, as though fitted with a bad aftermarket suspension kit, yet this unintentional 'sportiness' wasn't reflected in the dull, inert handling balance. 

The engineers admit there is still suspension work to do, and the 1.2 TSI we sampled had much more of the fluency and absorption expected of a Skoda. We suspect that the small petrol cars have already been more finely tuned by Skoda's boffins.

Should I buy one?

Styling is partly subjective, but for this writer the Rapid's clean, straight lines and razor-crisp ridges are a welcome change from the contrived sweeps, slashes and bulges of too many new cars. Skoda says the Rapid won't date as quickly. We agree.

John Simister

Skoda Rapid 1.6 TDI 105 Elegance

Price: £15,500 (est); 0-62mph: 10.6sec; Top speed: 118mph; Economy: 64.2mpg (combined); CO2: 114g/km; Kerb weight: 1179kg; Engine: 4cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power: 104bhp at 4400rpm; Torque: 184lb ft at 1500-2500rpm; Gearbox: 5-speed manual

Join the debate

Comments
16
Add a comment…
JIMBOB 16 July 2012

Very Clever

Skoda's Fabia Mk2 and Roomster seemed to signify a styling direction which aimed to be slightly more organic and soft.  In actual fact these cars, along with the Octavia Mk2 facelift, and to some extent the current Superb look slightly dumpy, and awkward compared to their predecessors.  The Fabia Mk1 estate looks' fresh' now, although it was considered conservative when it was launched nearly TWELVE YEARS AGO!.  I think the Fabia Estate Mk1 (less so the hatch, but only just)  can rank alongside the Mercedes 190 and E Class W124, Rover SD1, Mk3 VW Passat and Peugeot 205 as cars that age very gracefully.

It is likely that the Rapid will stay in production for 8 years or more.  By returning to elegant simplicity in design, Skoda are actually going back to what made them stand out as a marque 10-12 years ago. 

Looking forward to the new Fabia and Roomster.

 

Flatus senex 16 July 2012

JIMBOB wrote: Skoda's Fabia

JIMBOB wrote:

Skoda's Fabia Mk2 and Roomster seemed to signify a styling direction which aimed to be slightly more organic and soft.  In actual fact these cars, along with the Octavia Mk2 facelift, and to some extent the current Superb look slightly dumpy, and awkward compared to their predecessors.  The Fabia Mk1 estate looks' fresh' now, although it was considered conservative when it was launched nearly TWELVE YEARS AGO!.  I think the Fabia Estate Mk1 (less so the hatch, but only just)  can rank alongside the Mercedes 190 and E Class W124, Rover SD1, Mk3 VW Passat and Peugeot 205 as cars that age very gracefully.

It is likely that the Rapid will stay in production for 8 years or more.  By returning to elegant simplicity in design, Skoda are actually going back to what made them stand out as a marque 10-12 years ago. 

Looking forward to the new Fabia and Roomster.

 

Going back to 10-12 years ago? That's my point exactly. Just not good enough.

Mini1 17 July 2012

Flatus senex wrote: JIMBOB

Flatus senex wrote:

JIMBOB wrote:

Skoda's Fabia Mk2 and Roomster seemed to signify a styling direction which aimed to be slightly more organic and soft.  In actual fact these cars, along with the Octavia Mk2 facelift, and to some extent the current Superb look slightly dumpy, and awkward compared to their predecessors.  The Fabia Mk1 estate looks' fresh' now, although it was considered conservative when it was launched nearly TWELVE YEARS AGO!.  I think the Fabia Estate Mk1 (less so the hatch, but only just)  can rank alongside the Mercedes 190 and E Class W124, Rover SD1, Mk3 VW Passat and Peugeot 205 as cars that age very gracefully.

It is likely that the Rapid will stay in production for 8 years or more.  By returning to elegant simplicity in design, Skoda are actually going back to what made them stand out as a marque 10-12 years ago. 

Looking forward to the new Fabia and Roomster.

 

Going back to 10-12 years ago? That's my point exactly. Just not good enough.

But the point is that those cars aged gracefully and still look fresh. Whereas the likes of the i30 are a lot more likely to date. 

Mini1 17 July 2012

JIMBOB wrote: Skoda's Fabia

JIMBOB wrote:

Skoda's Fabia Mk2 and Roomster seemed to signify a styling direction which aimed to be slightly more organic and soft.  In actual fact these cars, along with the Octavia Mk2 facelift, and to some extent the current Superb look slightly dumpy, and awkward compared to their predecessors.  The Fabia Mk1 estate looks' fresh' now, although it was considered conservative when it was launched nearly TWELVE YEARS AGO!.  I think the Fabia Estate Mk1 (less so the hatch, but only just)  can rank alongside the Mercedes 190 and E Class W124, Rover SD1, Mk3 VW Passat and Peugeot 205 as cars that age very gracefully.

It is likely that the Rapid will stay in production for 8 years or more.  By returning to elegant simplicity in design, Skoda are actually going back to what made them stand out as a marque 10-12 years ago. 

Looking forward to the new Fabia and Roomster.

 

I have to agree. Our Octavia vRS Mk2 is one of the last of the pre-facelift models from 2009, and many believe that generation has aged more gracefully than the fussier new front end. I agree with you about the Superb saloon - it has always looked a tad dumpy despite being an excellent car, and the current Fabia looks, in certain trim levels and bodystyles, very tall and frumpy. However, I think the Citigo is a very neat effort which manages to look more squat than the equivalent Up!, and the Superb Estate is an extremely elegant loadlugger which will again age very well indeed.

I think the Rapid manages to look slightly bland from the front, but I'm sure it'll look better in the metal and the suspension issues will surely be rectified before it arrives on sale. Despite what people may say, VAG cannot possibly want a car in their range that is inferior to offerings from Korea, however big their egos may get. 

Flatus senex 18 July 2012

Mini1 wrote: Despite what

Mini1 wrote:

Despite what people may say, VAG cannot possibly want a car in their range that is inferior to offerings from Korea, however big their egos may get. 

One would think, indeed hope, not but ego, more truthfully arrogance, can do funny things to the thought processes!

Flash Harry 16 July 2012

VW have put Skoda back in its

VW have put Skoda back in its box going by this first test drive.The styling is very bland and it should have the Octavia suspension in this class.

Flatus senex 16 July 2012

Some have blandness thrust upon them

Apologies to Mr. Shakespeare! It is almost as if Skoda, having outperformed parent VW with the Yeti have had their legs slapped and made to produce this anodyne thing as a reminder that they must know their place! From the road test it does not seem to handle very well and the reviewer does not exactly enthuse about the power unit. So no compensation then for the dullness.

I cannot comment about the handling but, if the power unit is the same one as commonly fitted to Octavia minicabs, the variation between individual units is surprising. Some are like a throwback to an earlier era in terms of rattle and vibration. Others are satisfactory but they are never as good for NVH as the PSA 1.6 Hdi or, for that matter, the Vauxhall unit.

Are Skoda losing it as one national journalist suggested?

Mini1 16 July 2012

Flatus senex

Flatus senex wrote:

Apologies to Mr. Shakespeare! It is almost as if Skoda, having outperformed parent VW with the Yeti have had their legs slapped and made to produce this anodyne thing as a reminder that they must know their place! From the road test it does not seem to handle very well and the reviewer does not exactly enthuse about the power unit. So no compensation then for the dullness.

I cannot comment about the handling but, if the power unit is the same one as commonly fitted to Octavia minicabs, the variation between individual units is surprising. Some are like a throwback to an earlier era in terms of rattle and vibration. Others are satisfactory but they are never as good for NVH as the PSA 1.6 Hdi or, for that matter, the Vauxhall unit.

Are Skoda losing it as one national journalist suggested?

Losing it? I don't think so.

I think the Rapid is aimed at a certain type of driver, offering space and value which the original Octavia offered (and still does, really). If they can iron out the ride flaws then this should do okay. But I don't think there's any other evidence that Skoda are 'losing it'.

It is in VAG's best interests to keep Skoda as desirable as possible if they want sales. Sure, VW have too much of an ego which became very evident when VW UK refused to do the attractive finance package on the Up! as offered on the continent, claiming it would "sell itself", but I can't imagine that they would consciously try to harm Skoda's success. They're the ones that bought them with the aim of bringing them up to scratch, and that's what they've done. Let's just hope they aren't ruining it.

Flatus senex 16 July 2012

Mini1 wrote:It is in VAG's

Mini1 wrote:

It is in VAG's best interests to keep Skoda as desirable as possible if they want sales. Sure, VW have too much of an ego...........  Let's just hope they aren't ruining it.

Of course you are right in theory but never underestimate jealousy and thoughts about "status" in human affairs. The journalist referred to in my previous post felt Skoda were underestimating how rapidly Korean makers were advancing and now comes along this model which is not only underwhelming in appearance but also, so it seems, in terms of suspension development as well.

If VW are indeed so egotistical to feel that stodgy Middle England is so badge obsessed that it will continue to buy its products willy nilly, then it deserves the "running kick up the @rse" which another magazine says is administered by the DS3 to the Mini!