What is it?
The Skoda Rapid Spaceback, the second and more spacious version of the Skoda Rapid. Whereas the standard car is a slightly quirky notchback, the Spaceback is a more conventional hatchback.
In the compact car class, it'll go up against the Hyundai i30, Kia Cee'd and Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks. In a market sector where storage space is an important feature, the Rapid Spaceback enters the fray with good credentials. It offers 415 litres of space with the seats up, rising to 1380 litres with the seats down, meaning it soundly trumps the Golf – which offers 380 and 1318 litres respectively.
Despite the extra capacity, it is actually 180mm shorter than the Rapid saloon and has an identical wheelbase.
When it hits the showrooms in January, it will be offered with two petrol engines in three power outputs, and a single diesel with two levels of power.
What's it like?
Driven here is the 1.2-litre TSI GreenTech model in Elegance trim, which is equipped with the highest output version of the 1.2-litre engine, delivering 104bhp and 175lb ft of torque. Skoda claims an average economy of 52mpg, alongside CO2 emissions of 118g/km. That's aided by a GreenTech option which adds stop-start functionality as well as a brake energy-regeneration system – without the £450 option emissions grow to 125g/km, making it a worthwhile investment.
The 1.2-litre TSI pulls the Spaceback's 1170kg well, and provided you’re not stuck at the bottom of the rev range will provide a decent amount of torque. The six-speed manual gearbox offers well-spaced ratios.
Around the sloping mountain roads of Verona there was plenty of opportunity to assess the Rapid Spaceback’s steering, which transpired to be numb and a little too light. The Rapid Spaceback handling is rather vanilla, being geared more to aid round-town manoeuvrability than for out-of-town kicks.
Where the Rapid Spaceback earns more points is with its cabin space, since there's plenty of rear headroom and legroom. Even six-foot adults won’t struggle for space. The front is similarly spacious, with wide and supportive seats offering a comfortable experience.
The interior of the Rapid Spaceback is a case of function over form. It’s a conservative, if a little bland, cabin with the odd smattering of premium materials to give the impression of a more luxurious car. In other words, on the inside at least, you’d be hard pushed to know the Rapid Spaceback was built to a price.
Should I buy one?
The Skoda Rapid Spaceback offers notable value for money. Considering the space on offer, prices starting at £14,340 can be considered very reasonable compared to the £14,200 Hyundai i30, the £14,400 Kia Cee'd and the £16,495 Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks.
Alongside both the i30 and the Cee’d, however, the Rapid Spaceback finds itself in the chasing pack – rather than up front and ready to challenge the Volkswagen Golf for compact class supremacy.
If you’re looking for a smaller, budget car with near estate levels of space, though, you could do worse than the Rapid Spaceback; and as a cheap, economical load-lugger, it does its job well.
Skoda Rapid Spaceback 1.2-litre TSI GreenTech Elegance
Price £16,890; 0-62mph 10.2 seconds; Top speed 120mph; Economy 52mpg; CO2 118g/km; Kerb weight 1170kg; Engine 4-cylinder, in-line, turbocharged, petrol 1197cc; Power 104bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 129lb ft at 1550-4100rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual