This is one of the most important models Skoda has ever produced. The new Ford Focus-sized Rapid is not only the company’s first truly global car, but it’s also expected to be the second best seller – accounting for more than 6,000 registrations in the UK alone. What will be the top seller? The new, larger Octavia, which launches in about six months’ time.
The Rapid sits on a stretched VW Polo platform, and offers class-leading space and great value with a range that starts at less than £13,000. We’ve already driven the 104bhp 1.6-litre TDI diesel, so how does this 104bhp 1.2 TSI petrol shape up?
Well, it’s a real star performer. It has an identical power output to the diesel and offers similar performance – sprinting from 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds. But there’s plenty of deep-chested shove, too.
Thanks to a turbo the engine feels much bigger than its tiny capacity suggests, with 175Nm of torque available from 1,550rpm to 4,100rpm. The car is efficient, too, claiming 52.3mpg and 125g/km CO2 emissions.
On the road it’s competent rather than exciting, with well weighted steering and safe handling. It doesn’t feel particularly agile – turn-in to corners isn’t very sharp – while the ride is firm on rutted roads.
Inside, there’s plenty of space, with class-leading head and legroom in the back. And thanks to a 550-litre boot which expands to 1,490 litres with the seats folded, there’s no shortage of carrying capacity, either. If we have a criticism, it’s that the Rapid’s design is rather plain and the materials could be of higher quality.
That said, it all feels very durable – and what the car lacks in styling flair it makes up for with clever ideas. For instance, there’s an ice scraper in the filler cap, along with a double-sided boot floor – one carpeted for normal use, the other rubberised for messier loads.
If you cover relatively low mileages, this petrol version of the Rapid is the one to go for – it’s cheaper to buy and more fun to drive than the diesel.