The 1.2 petrol is also 165kg lighter than 1.6-litre diesel ‘Greenline’ model – something likely to show in just about every dynamic dimension on the road. And it does. The Rapid Sport rides softly and quietly, with all the advantages and compromises implied by a basic, low-rate chassis specification. It’s compliant and unobtrusive, although can crash over severe ruts. It’s also untroubled by much in the way of damper control.
The Rapid’s body bobs about gently over its wheels, never running beyond a dependable sense of outright control, never undermining grip levels and seldom disturbing your comfort levels much - but rarely settling either. Steering is light, predictably paced, entirely monotone and empty of contact patch feel – but usable. The car is wieldy, and corners flatly and neatly enough. It feels more rudimentary than the chassis setup on, say, a VW Golf, Ford Focus or Peugeot 308 – but a lot closer to those cars than to a Dacia Logan.
Which is more than you can probably expect for the money. And in other ways, the Rapid over-delivers on its price tag. It’s super-roomy for four occupants, with a cavernous boot and a hard-wearing, contemporary and entirely pleasant cabin. The sports seats and steel pedals work with the leather-faced controls to lend a smattering of richness, and standard equipment such as climate control, cruise control and Bluetooth media streaming, all impress.
Externally, the black mirror housings and 17in wheels add a little bit of visual presence to the car. The body-contrasting bootlid spoiler looks misplaced – a little like shiny white trainers on a pensioner. And spoiler and all, there’s still no escape from the pervading sense of humdrum function about the Rapid. Black mirror caps certainly don’t turn it into an object of desire.
Should I buy one?
You know you should. And you could do plenty with the money you’d save if you did. The Rapid Sport makes the financial case even stronger for a car that already took some beating for the private motorist.
It’s more practical, better turned out and more refined than any cut-price option has any right to be, and is entirely adequate to drive. Not great – but a long way from bad.
The more important question is, could you impose such extraordinary ordinariness on your everyday motoring existence? Can you see the appeal in such obvious contempt for ‘appealingness’? Do you look at a Kia Ceed and wonder why the automotive arena needs such extravagance and excess?
If you do, you’ll be in a minority – albeit, perhaps, an enlightened one.
Skoda Rapid Sport 1.2 TSI 105
Price £15,630; 0-62mph 10.4sec; Top speed 121mph; Economy 52.3mpg; CO2 125g/km; Kerbweight 1100kg; Engine type, cc 4 cyls, 1197cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 104bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 129lb ft at 1550-4100rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual