Skoda Rapid

26 Jun, 2012 10:00am Luke Madden

The Skoda Rapid is looking to take on established family cars with a saloon-like body and a great-value price

Verdict

4
With the Rapid, Skoda has created a car that appeals to the heads of family car buyers everywhere. It’s practical, clever, efficient and easy to drive, but is missing the kind of emotional attraction that will make people really want this car. Nevertheless, there are lots of people out there who will need a car like the Rapid, and for them there really is nothing better on the road.

Skoda has built itself a reputation for producing cars that are practical, affordable and dependable; and if you want the perfect example, look no further than the firm’s latest model, the Skoda Rapid. 

It’s based on a stretched Volkswagen Polo platform, and Skoda sees it as one of the models most important for achieving its goal of selling 1.5 million cars worldwide by 2018. 

This is because Skoda believes the Rapid is all the car anyone will ever need – especially families. The Rapid has a 550-litre boot – which opens like a hatchback, making for incredibly easy access – and a spacious and durable cabin that can seat five adults. 

There are plenty of family friendly touches too, including a boot floor that has carpet on one side and rubber on the other, so you can flip it depending on what you’re carrying. Then there’s the ice scraper that’s fitted to the inside of the fuel filler cap so you always have one handy.

In the hunt to please the whole family, Skoda has been a little restrained with the design, though. It’s certainly a more modern Skoda than we’ve seen before, with attractive creases and carefully detailed features, but you could quite easily travel down a busy high street without turning a single head. 

But this car isn’t about turning heads, it’s about practical motoring and that includes the way it drives. The Rapid is available with a range of engines, but the 1.2-litre TSI with 85bhp or 104bhp and the 1.6 TDI with 104bhp will be the big sellers.

We tried the latter, and while it never provided thrilling performance, it also never felt underpowered. Skoda couldn’t give us a 0-62mph time, but it should be in the region of 10 seconds. It’s a refined and smooth engine, too, but that’s spoilt a little at high speeds thanks to a fair amount of wind noise. 

On the plus side, the suspension has been set up in such a way that it can smooth out most of what everyday roads will throw up, but really rutted roads did send the occasional thud into the cabin.

When it comes to handling, the Rapid has clearly been set up to be predictable and easy to drive; as such it’s not the most thrilling car in the corners. The steering is responsive and nicely weighted, the gearbox is accurate and light, there’s plenty of grip and a reasonable sense of agility, too. What there isn’t, though, is real driving appeal. 

Is that a box that families will want to tick? Not necessarily, and there are plenty of other boxes that the Rapid does tick. Our diesel model is capable of 64.4mpg and emits just 114g/km, so it’ll be very cheap to run. Consider how much space you get and it’s great value, too. 

The Rapid has 50 litres more boot space than a Volkswagen Jetta, but with an expected starting price of £13,000 – it's £4,000 less than the VW. Specifications haven’t been finalized yet but as it’s a Skoda, you can expect air-conditioning and electric front windows as standard.

Add it all up and it’s clear that Skoda has put some real thought into the Rapid. From a family perspective there’s very little to complain about. It’s not the most exciting car on the road to drive, or even to look at, but on a list of priorities for most family buyers, you’d expect to find those two things near the bottom.  

Disqus - noscript

Another timeless winner.Look at how dated most of the so-called trendy cars look after 3 years, yet look at any Skoda, and they age well, and the Rapid will be the same. Remember that this car wasn't really conceived for the UK market, but as a direct rival to the Fiat Linea/Dacia Logan/Koreans etc for central, eastern european and asian markets to sell in high numbers. It obviously has them all licked for quality etc, looks a quality product with its understated lines, and I can see it doing very well.

I've always found that Skodas have a quality that's not much appreciated but is to my mind very important - they're easy to drive smoothly, giving passengers a great journey. "Fun to drive" might be great for the driver, but it can sometimes be a double-edged sword if it means that the driver ends up having fun, but possibly somewhat at the expense of his passengers comfort.

The Skodas I have driven all have a very stable ride, with not much roll and great damping to stop excessive body movement in corners. These are exactly the qualities a car needs in order to be able to drive it smoothly. Not as much "fun" maybe, but there is also great satisfaction to be had from transporting people in (for them) as comfortable, secure and relaxed a way as possible.

A great car for people that don't really like cars and just want something reliable and spacious. There's definitely a place in the market but it's just too dull looking for me (like most of the parent company's products). Look for fun elsewhere.

To my mind the back end is more successful than the front, which is a bit too bland. I think where it goes wrong is the top line of the headlamps - it would be better if they went up a bit at the wing end to echo the rising line in the bumper. As it is this aspect of the design seems to me to "stop the flow" of the design at the front end. I also find the way in which the Skoda badge is situated in the middle of the bonnet to be a bit awkward - the circle of the badge is dropped into the middle of an area which has a flat edge at the bottom in a rather casual way. It might look much better in the flesh and as is often the case time and familiarity may soften these objections, but at present I think a "rev 2" might be necessary to make the car into a thing of beauty! Love the back end, though.

To my mind the back end is more successful than the front, which is a bit too bland. I think where it goes wrong is the top line of the headlamps - it would be better if they went up a bit at the wing end to echo the rising line in the bumper. As it is this aspect of the design seems to me to "stop the flow" of the design at the front end. I also find the way in which the Skoda badge is situated in the middle of the bonnet to be a bit awkward - the circle of the badge is dropped into the middle of an area which has a flat edge at the bottom in a rather casual way. It might look much better in the flesh and as is often the case time and familiarity may soften these objections, but at present I think a "rev 2" might be necessary to make the car into a thing of beauty! Love the back end, though.

But a bit bland otherwise. Let's hope there is a vRS version on horizon.

i would definitely consider buying the Rapid
it is far better looking than the new generartion Fabia
and i suspect will sell in greater numbers
i hope there is a powerful diesel version on the horizon
will be the one to buy

I am in shock? 5 stars even though they commented on the not so good secondary ride quality, average agility and lack of thrills....

Autocar's review is quite different (especially in terms of ride/handling)

Will be interested to drive this car soon, if it drives like it looks its going to be highly disappointing.

www.RobMcSorleyonCARS.com
.....the home of quality news and reviews

Hooray - a car that looks like it's been designed by a real car designer not some adolescent . Nicely resolved lines, no childish gimmicks, a roofline that suggests that adults may gain access to the rear - even with their heads still attached. To my eyes, it's handsome.

Arthur Schopenhauer famously said that all truth passes through three stages.

Witness Skoda's record in the last 10 - 20 years in raising their game.

With Skoda's "ridicule" stage being long gone, even the most hardened cynics are struggling to perpetuate the "opposition" stage.

This latest model, hot on the heels of the Citigo, looks as if the truth will be "self evident".

"A somewhat ugly duckling"

?????????????????????

Gosh, that word "ugly" is strong. Quasimodo was ugly. The Proboscis Monkey is ugly. Is this word on par with the new Rapid? Let the sales figures decide.

lol.

Just as ugly and boring as every other Skoda on the road. But I suppose the people who buy Skodas dont care about the look - they just want a sensible functional box that takes them comfortably and reliably from A to B.

Bloodyannoying.

Didn't mean to get in the way of your Skoda fetish. :-)

Take a look at the What Car review, miles better, better pics of the car too, these pictures don't do it justice. It's certainly no ugly duckling or boring.
I drive a Skoda and I care about the looks - I bought my Skoda because it looks great, does 150mph (its an Octavia vRS 2.0 T) and is fun to drive.
Rapid looks a great car, and will no doubt sell well on merit, reliability and quality, as well as price.

Let's go back nearly 30 years. To the era of the mullet haircut (lol). Let's eavesdrop a pub conversation:

"What do you call a Skoda with twin exhausts?"
"A wheelbarrow". Lots of laughter.

Fast forward to today:

"What do you call a Skoda with twin exhausts?"
"A wheelbarrow." Silence.

More silence.

Yet more silence.

Fetish? What is that? I don't think so. lol.

Well said.
There will always be the occasional shallow idiot who 'think' they know about cars, and there are those who 'do' know about cars.
Thankfully, you and I, (and the 50K+ UK buyers of Skodas this year), 'do' know about cars, that's why we chose a Skoda :-). (I'm assuming you have one anyway!).

Well said.
There will always be the occasional shallow idiot who 'think' they know about cars, and there are those who 'do' know about cars.
Thankfully, you and I, (and the 50K+ UK buyers of Skodas this year), 'do' know about cars, that's why we chose a Skoda :-). (I'm assuming you have one anyway!).

Ohh get off your high Skodas - not everyone is as obsessed with Skodas as you!

Out of date just as are stories about unreliable Citroens or Alfas or whatever. With every make there will be the odd wrong one and this will not exclude Skodas. What is not out of date is that they are dull, not ugly but just plain dull.

My experience of Skoda is limited to the back seats of Octavias used as taxis. From this viewpoint they were not as comfortable as the back seat of a Vectra and the Skoda diesel was nowhere near as refined as that of the Vauxhall. Skoda diesels do seem to vary considerably unit to unit.

Basically a Skoda is nothing to say "whoopee" about" but probably very serviceable. Hence their extensive use as hackneys.

So the fact they come 1st customer satisfaction every years isnt a whoopee?? I think ill take advice from someone who knows the car from the front seat, not the back!!

Great - now where is the VRS version - diesel and petrol please

I don't think you can have understood a word I wrote

I'm an owner of the current VW Jetta and from what I've seen so far, it's heavily copying the Jetta apart from front and back end panels (rebadging). Same as with the new Seat Toledo..

I can't help feeling Skoda may have the last laugh here. The Rapid was never designed to compete with the likes of Ferrari, Range Rover, Bentley or even Lexus. No, the Rapid is a small, quality family car that has been designed to do what it does with competence, like many other cars in this sector. What Skoda add to the mix is higher than average build and the use of quality materials, a cabin with a sense of occasion, and VFM. These days a Skoda cabin is a very nice place to be and they are several cuts above the sector norm.

If Skoda decide to make a VRs version of the Rapid then there is plenty of scope in the design to make it look quite raunchy in my opinion.

In addition to the above, if one carefully studies the first picture from above and then imagine the Rapid with a BMW kidney grill and badge then it would look remarkably similar to the last generation BMW 3 series.

...the Seat version for handling and fun.

That's the bases covered well enough. You pays your money...

"In addition to the above, if one carefully studies the first picture from above and then imagine the Rapid with a BMW kidney grill and badge then it would look remarkably similar to the last generation BMW 3 series."

I couldn't agree more, what a shame the timing of this didn't allow a photo-shopped 'April Fool ' picture to expose all the neanderthal anti-Skoda and wider anti VAG numpties. It would have been delicious to see them eating their ill-informed, shallow words. Still, the day will come soon.

Hurrah for a decent looking car.

Too many cars around nowadays are defined by their complex panel creases, their irritating LED running lights, their pointless lumps of plastic body-warts and bling (looking at you, Mercedes), or by that fallback of the lazy journalist, a "new, more aggressive front end". (Seriously, count the number of times that phrase appears in Auto Express.) It's nice to see a car with a simple, elegant shape and minimal tat.

Big difference between "nice" and "dull and frumpy". Skoda have shown, with the Yeti, that they do know the difference but this one really does mark a regression to type. A dull and frumpy car does not mean that it reflects its owner's character but, nevertheless, manufacturers should be nagged to do better. The ultimate sanction is to buy something else, for there are few really bad cars around today.

As for DRLs, whether LEDs or not, these are rendered necessary by the obstinacy of drivers about putting on their headlights when visibility is poor. Like any law it is only necessary when peple act badly.

Very nice, but a bit too expected.
When they said they'd put the VisionD into production in some shape or form, I knew they'd dull it down too much.
Just make the VisionD! And while I'm here, a Superb VRS would be nice as well!

An attractive car, should be cheap, and unlike most family cars it has a 3 box profile and therefore does not resemble a tortoise in profile.

The grille reminds me of the mk2 Laguna, one of Renaults more successful designs (if lacking in the reliability dept).

Though it may not be a used bargain if minicabbers will pick them up at high demand as per the current Octavia.

Key specs

  • Price: From £13,000 (set)
  • Engine: 1.6-litre diesel/104bhp
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 10 seconds (est)
  • Economy: 64.4mpg
  • CO2: 114g/km
  • Equipment: USB connection, six airbags, air-con, electric front windows
  • On sale: Autumn 2012
AEX 1334
For more breaking car news and reviews, subscribe to Auto Express - available as a weekly magazine and on your iPad. We'll give you 6 issues for £1 and a free gift!

Sponsored Links