Skoda Rapid review
While slightly uninspiring, the Skoda Rapid is an excellent value and supremely practical alternative to the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf
Thanks to its clever design, the Skoda Rapid has much more room than a Ford Focus or a Golf for a much lower price - the entry level models start at around £13,000. However, the Rapid is rather docile to drive, and its interior quality and ride comfort aren't entirely up to the standard found in the Golf or Hyundai i30.
Despite these drawbacks, the Rapid has plenty of other qualities such as competitive finance offers and a good range of engines to make it a valid choice for families on a budget.
The Skoda Rapid range is comprised of the entry-level S, mid-range SE and flagship Elegance models. In early 2014, Skoda also launched two limited edition Rapid trim levels - the SE Connect, which features parking sensors and sat-nav, plus the Sport, which is similar to the Fabia Monte Carlo supermini in that it gets sports seats, special 17-inch alloys and black gloss exterior details.
In addition to the five-door hatch, the Skoda Rapid is available with a more traditional hatchback design called the Rapid Spaceback.
Our choice: Rapid 1.2 TSI SE
Like the rest of the Skoda range, the Rapid's styling prioritises form over function. Like the bigger Octavia and Superb, it does feature sharp lines and bold details. While it adheres to Skoda's forgettable cookie-cutter design, it certainly doesn't look unpleasant.
The entry level S models are pretty uninspiring to look at, because they do without alloy wheels, front fog lights, chrome detailing and colour-coded trim. The most eye-catching version of the Rapid is the Sport, which in addition to its 17-inch alloys, benefits from a gloss-black bootlid spoiler and mirrors. On the inside, it gets sports seats and steel pedals.
While the Skoda Rapid looks like a saloon, it's actually a hatchback. This means loading objects in and out of the large flat boot is pretty easy.
The Skoda Rapid is available with a choice of small petrol and diesel engines. The smallest is a 1.2-litre petrol TSI unit with 74bhp and the most powerful is a 1.4-litre petrol.
All Skoda Rapid models modern engines but smaller capacity models can feel a little sluggish. The handling feels very grown up for a car that costs so little but there’s not very much excitement to be had, as the whole experience is a little bit inert.
The Skoda Rapid is one of the safest cars in its class thanks to ABS, ESP and a whole raft of airbags as standard kit. It's no surprise then that it scored the maximum five-stars in the Euro NCAP tests.
Reliability is unlikely to be a problem either, as all of the Rapid’s electrical and mechanical components are used in other models in the range. Owners rate Skoda very highly, too – the firm is regularly one of the big winners in our annual Driver Power satisfaction survey.
In our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, Skoda ranked in the top 3 places out of all 150 cars, with the Yeti leading the way and the Citigo and Superb in second and third. As a brand, Skoda topped the manufacturer's standings, too.
What it may lack a little in quality and driving enjoyment, the Skoda Rapid completely wipes the floor with the Golf and the Focus when it comes to practicality.
With the rear seats in place, the Rapid has 550 litres of space in the boot. This is compared to 363 litres in the Ford and 350 in the Golf. When its rear seats are folded flat, the Rapid's boot space increases to a huge 1,490 litres.
There are also plenty of clever touches, like a boot floor with carpet on one side and rubber on the other, so you can flip it depending on what you’re carrying. The cabin is spacious enough for carrying five adults, but it will be a bit of a squeeze.
The Rapid Spaceback sister car has a more conventional compact hatchback bodystyle, which cuts boot space to 415 litres with the back seats up and 1,380 litres with them folded.
The Skoda Rapid is available with a choice of robust petrol and diesel engines, which range from 1.2-litres to 1.6-litres.
The 104bhp 1.6 TDI is capable of 64.2mpg and emits just 114g/km of CO2, while in GreenTech spec it will return 70.6mpg and emit 106g/km CO2.
For low mileage drivers the cheaper petrol engines will make more sense. The 1.2 TSI petrol is smooth and refined and comes with either 85bhp or 104bhp. The lower powered version manages 55.4mpg and 119g/km in standard spec and 65.7mpg and 114g/km CO2 in GreenTech trim.
The list price of petrol Skoda Rapid models is almost £2,500 less than their diesel equivalents, so make sure you cover enough miles annually to make the rattly oil burners worth it before buying.