Skoda Rapid review
The Skoda Rapid is the sister car to the SEAT Toledo, and is one of the most practical and best value for money models in its class
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. Skoda also regularly offers some great deals on the Rapid, including zero per cent finance offers, which you can find at the firm’s website. But interior 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. A new model – called the Rapid Spaceback – is due to go on sale in October 2013 and will feature a more traditional compact hatchback design similar to rivals like the SEAT Leon or the Renault Megane.
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 – the firm is regularly one of the big winners in our annual Driver Power satisfaction survey. Two of its models took first and second place in the Top 100 in 2013 – the Yeti and Superb – while the Octavia wasn’t far behind in sixth. While Skoda UK as a brand came second overall. If you’re keen to find out more about how owners rate the reliability of their cars, you could always try browsing a Skoda forum, to see if any common problems are reported.
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. Fold the rear seats and the load space will extend to 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 due on sale in October 2013 will have a more conventional compact hatchback bodystyle, which will cut boot space to 415 litres with the back seats up and 1,380 litres with them folded.
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 standard 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 – although it comes at a £250 list price premium over the basic oil burner. 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 – again at a £250 list price premium. The list price of petrol models is almost £2,500 less than their diesel equivalents, so make sure you cover enough miles annually to make the oil burners worth it before buying.