What's it like?
It’s like a Fabia, but bigger, rather than being like an Octavia, but smaller. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s got the Fabia’s quiet competence, but an unsettled ride and cheap plastics to match.
On rather smooth rural German roads, the Rapid’s suspension tends to amplify small ruts, albeit with an overarching softness; translate this to the UK’s more mottled tarmac and it could be a bit of an issue. These aren’t really welcome, and the bumps, combined with the 1.0-litre three-pot’s raspy note and interior vibration, make things a little less serene than they could be under a heavier stomp of acceleration. It does pull relatively well from low revs, and is flexible.
The boomy engine adds a little aural drama to an otherwise fuss-free cabin ambience, but some could grow tired of this, because it serves as a reminder that the engine has to be worked hard to get any convincing oomph out of it. The steering is much the same: unless treated with considerable vigour, it’s overly numb. There's little body roll, though.
Should I buy one?
There are few reasons not to, if you’re in the less emotional end of the family car market. The Seat Leon offers more personality, albeit in a different package, while the Volkswagen Golf offers a similar amount of personality, but in a plusher package, but both cost far more than the Rapid.
The 1.0-litre TSI Rapid offers a mid-point to the 1.6-litre and 1.4-litre TDI models; it doesn’t have the low-end shove of the 1.6 - although that engine does peter above 3500-4000rpm - but it’s got a fair bit more than the 1.4. All three have around the same level of engine noise.
This petrol version could find a growing number of customers, given the anti-diesel rhetoric swirling around the industry. Currently, 70% of UK customers go for the Rapid Spaceback over the regular Rapid liftback, and SE Tech (£16,345) will be the best-selling trim level with its alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control, front foglights and other basic creature comforts.
Keener drivers need not apply, though.
Skoda Rapid Spaceback 1.0 TSI 110 Specifications
Location Frankfurt, Germany On sale Late June Price from £14,410 Engine 3cyls in line, 999cc, petrol Power 109bhp at 5000rpm Torque 148lb ft at 2000rpm Gearbox 6-speed manual Kerbweight 1110kg 0-62mph 9.8sec Top speed 123mph Economy 61.4mpg CO2/tax band 106g/km, band F (£140 per year) Rivals Kia Cee’d, Vauxhall Astra