Skoda Rapid review
The Skoda Rapid is the sister car to the SEAT Toledo, and offers lots of space and great value for money
The Skoda Rapid is a Ford Focus-sized hatchback that's designed to look like a saloon, but with a hugely practical cabin and boot. It offers loads more room than any other car in the class and a price tag that undercuts the usual alternatives. But cabin quality and ride comfort aren’t entirely up to the standard offered by the Hyundai i30 or VW Golf. However, the Rapid has plenty of other qualities that make it a great value family choice.
Our choice: Rapid 1.2 TSI SE
The Rapid is the first Skoda to be styled using the firm’s all-new design language, so it gets crisp lines and bold details. In terms of shape, it’s not particularly inspiring, and some of the more basic models look a little dull, because they do without alloy wheels, front foglights, chrome detailing or colour coded trim. While the Rapid looks like a saloon model, it's actually a hatchback, so it's very easy to load up.
The Skoda Rapid is available with a variety of engines, but the highlights are the 1.2 TSI with 104bhp and the 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel. Both have just the right amount of power – the smaller capacity models can feel a little sluggish. The handling feels mature 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 ride also isn’t as composed as you’ll find in a VW Golf or Ford Focus, but then the Rapid is a good few thousand pounds cheaper than those cars.
Standard safety kit on the Rapid includes driver, passenger, head and side airbags, as well as ABS and ESP. All this helped it score full marks in the Euro NCAP crash tests, making it one of the safest cars in its class. 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, with three models in the top five - the Yeti, Superb and Octavia - and a first-place finish overall in the 2012 Driver Power reliability survey.
The Skoda Rapid is in a completely different league when it comes to practicality. With the rear seats in place it has 550 litres of space in the boot, which compares to 363 litres in the Focus and 350 litres in the Golf. 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.
All of the Rapid’s small capacity engines are great for fuel economy, but for high mileage drivers the diesels will make a lot of sense. The 104bhp 1.6 TDI is capable of 64.4mpg and emits just 114g/km of CO2, but for low mileage drivers the cheaper petrol engines will make more sense. The 1.2 TSI petrol is smooth and refined, but also manages 55.4mpg and 119g/km.