From £14,6157
Latest version of the Skoda Rapid offers budget no-frills motoring, but the experience is adequate rather than exemplary
Darren Moss
3 October 2013

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.

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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

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Comments
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Soren Lorenson 7 October 2013

1990's Car

This reminds me of the 1998 Mazda 323F I once owned. That too was worthy but dull.

However, in an early comment someone likens the proportions to the Austin Maestro and I would say that this observation is spot on.

Maybe the German's with their unerring sense of humour want to bring back the Skoda jokes of the 1980's too.

ewanmac76 3 October 2013

Design

I'm sorry but this looks awful. The front is fine but the rear styling is terrible. Reminds me of the old favorit somehow. £17k for a 1.2 skoda - it's no longer good value.

spqr 3 October 2013

Elephant in the room

I agree with the comments of harf that Skoda are under strict orders from the VW Board not to produce aspirational cars. I have always thought that a modern Skoda Felicia coupe based on the VW Scirocco would be a fantastic car. But it would not fit in with VW's plans to fleece their customers by making them pay thousands more for Skodas badged as VWs and Audis. Reading the review of the Spaceback it is quite clear that the elephant in the room here is that this VW MQB derived car is actually a version of the Audi A3 Sportback (albeit with a more limited and lower powered choice of engines and an enforced "worthy but dull" driving style). As such it is a bargain. Also it should make Audi buyers look very hard indeed at whether those 4 rings on the grille are actually worth the £4000 and more that their car will cost over the Skoda. The Audi buyers should also remember that the technology that has gone into their cars (apart from cosmetic fripperies) is very much the same as that being sold by Skoda for a great deal less. It would seems that Skoda's new advertising slogan "Simply Clever" really refers to their customers.

MikeSpencer 3 October 2013

spqr wrote: ...this VW MQB

spqr wrote:

...this VW MQB derived car is actually a version of the Audi A3 Sportback.

I'm not sure that's correct. This Spaceback, the Skoda Rapid and the new Seat Toledo are all based on an extended version of the existing PQ25 platform. That's the one currently in use by the Polo, Ibiza and Audi A1. MQB is currently only being used for posher cars; Audi A3, VW Golf, Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia.

bomb 3 October 2013

MikeSpencer wrote: This

MikeSpencer wrote:

This Spaceback, the Skoda Rapid and the new Seat Toledo are all based on an extended version of the existing PQ25 platform.

Correct, the Rapid gets the older platform. In the right spec the new Octavia is quite a handsome car but this is automotive white goods.

A34 3 October 2013

Not MQB, not stretched, not more spacious

MikeSpencer wrote:
spqr wrote:

...this VW MQB derived car is actually a version of the Audi A3 Sportback.

...This Spaceback, the Skoda Rapid and the new Seat Toledo are all based on an extended version of the existing PQ25 platform. ....

Yes this could be quite nice if MQB-based (ie truly a "cheap Golf"). But its more a stretched Fabia. And I see the review has been edited to say this is a "more spacious version" than the original Rapid, rather than stretched. So still wrong!

marj 4 October 2013

MikeSpencer wrote: spqr

MikeSpencer wrote:
spqr wrote:

...this VW MQB derived car is actually a version of the Audi A3 Sportback.

I'm not sure that's correct. This Spaceback, the Skoda Rapid and the new Seat Toledo are all based on an extended version of the existing PQ25 platform. That's the one currently in use by the Polo, Ibiza and Audi A1. MQB is currently only being used for posher cars; Audi A3, VW Golf, Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia.

I was about to mention, £14k for a 1.2 stretched Polo doesn't sound terrific value to me. I think Skoda are starting to alienate their core USP/ customer base. Perhaps they will shift to Dacia and whatever the budget VW is called. They had an 'earthy appeal' with flourishes of Volvo design, this is like some developing world euro block, not an iota of desirability or recommendation.

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