Skoda Rapid Spaceback 2014 review

15 Nov, 2013 3:00pm Chris Ebbs

Cut-price Ford Focus rival scores on style. We test Skoda Rapid Spaceback on UK roads for the first time.


Hatchback are big business in the UK, and the Skoda Rapid Spaceback is guaranteed to secure a large slice of the action with its stylish looks. However, we’d recommend steering clear of this diesel engine. While it ticks the boxes for power, it’s far too noisy, no matter how quickly you’re driving. The 1.2 TSI would be a better bet.

The Skoda Rapid Spaceback is the brand's first true hatchback - according to Skoda. This will be a surprise to Fabia and Octavia owners, but what Skoda means is that this is its first direct rival to the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra – the kind of small family car that UK buyers love. But there’s plenty of competition here, so should you go for the Skoda?

The stylish body makes a good first impression, although you’ll be disappointed when you fire up the 1.6 diesel fitted to our car. The engine’s rumble is intrusive, especially in traffic, and when you’re accelerating it sounds rough. At motorway speeds, the engine drone is replaced by wind noise. On the plus side, the 10.3-second 0-62mph time is all you’ll need from a car like this.

Skoda Rapid review

The stiff ride of the standard Rapid has been addressed, with a bit more cushioning over rough roads, but it still crashes a little in larger potholes.

The light steering makes the car easy to manoeuvre. We’d just appreciate more weight at high speeds – at the moment, it’s light enough to be disconcerting.

All this means the Spaceback trails rivals like the Focus and Mazda 3 for driving fun. However, what it does have on its side over other Skodas is good looks.

This is the most attractive model in the company’s range. The sleek rear end improves on the awkward standard Rapid, while the optional panoramic roof and extended tailgate glass are also neat additions.

The boot offers more space than any rival, at 415 litres (the Focus manages 316 litres). Plus, there are clever options like a double-sided boot floor, which is carpet on one side and wipe-clean rubber on the other. Yet with starting prices almost £2,000 above the standard – and more spacious – Rapid, this is clearly a Skoda for those prioritising style. It does represent good value, though, with the Kia Cee’d 1.6 CRDi 2 costing a few hundred pounds more, at £18,295.

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I haven't driven this hatchback version of Rapid but after reading high praise in this magazine by none other than the otherwise venerable columnist Mike Rutherford, I did give that car a try and I found it so lacking in so many areas that I lost trust and almost stopped reading the "most outspoken columnist".

Ah well, you know the writer is being desperate when he commends this vehicle for "style". Increasingly this is the last word which could ever be applied to this brand.
Interesting though that even AE is beginning to share our view that the VW Group 1.6l. diesel power unit is underwhelming.

HDI is better than any VW unit

Mr Mike Rutherford often talks a lot of tosh. He fits right in at A.E. though, since he is strangely biased-towards-VAG, as illustrated by your comment.

£17.930 For a cheap & nasty recycled skoda thats just a Seat Ibiza with skoda badges on it what a con, a Golf SE is £19.000-£20.000 why buy this & so is an Octavia or Vauxhall Astra Which are far better Quality cars than this not so cheap but nasty thing.

It should be £12.000-£15.000 MAX, yes i know the Rapid saloon/hatch Starts at £12.990 but thats just a gimmick to make the car look like a bargain That 1.2 in S trim is not worth buying a no Frllls model with a pathetic engine around 54 bhp a real jokes on you car, Why is it that VAG don't want to sell Skoda's for under £16.000 when some models are not even worth that ? What a joke it's probably making out Skoda is Now a premium brand ha ha, & that Seat is the cheaper brand Now i doubt that by looking at Seat's prices there to high aswell, Maybe VAG is planning a New Budget Brand ?

Increasingly there are people who actually have brains choosing brands in defiance of the sheep-follower standard. This is where Skoda style comes from, in the same vain that people chose Saabs.

There are still a few thickos who retain an anti-Skoda bias but they are mostly 80+ years old and will all be dead soon anyway.

And in 2013 £17K is a cheap car. So many people stuck in 1983.

??? HDi is Peugeot FFS. The worst and most dire car company in the world with the most dire engines. VW engines are not great by any means, but HDi? I'm still laughing at you.

Well Mr Nlet me inform you that Ford, Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover use these engines so they can't be bad can they

Well Mr Numpty let me inform you than JLR, Volvo, Ford etc use them so they can't be bad can they and the most advance diesel engine has been launched in Blue Hdi so stick that in your pipe and smoke it

On the contrary, I had a good opinion of Skodas until I actually rode in them! A colleague's family had dire experiences of new VW's and transfer of custom en masse to Skoda at least provided vehicles which were properly screwed together. A while back, local minicabs were predominately Skodas (the minicabbies are now gravitating to Hyundais hereabouts) and I had to use cabs a lot a few months ago.
Having looked forward with interest to riding in such vehicles, reality was a sad dis-appointment. The 1.6l. V Group diesel is an unrefined thing and the old pattern Octavia had a harsh, pattery ride whilst the seats were also hard plus being badly shaped. I began to be seriously relieved when the cab which hove into sight was a Ford or a Vauxhall. Much more comfortable! It was an equal dis-appointment to read reviews of the new Rapid (naturally not in AE) which suggested it had the same endemic problems as its predecessor.
Probably I would not be as critical of the VW Group 1.6l. diesel if I had not been used to better. From time to time I drove a Peugeot Partner van whose 1.6Hdi was a sea change from previous diesel engines encountered and led me to buy an Hdi engined private car. The first one was an improvement over the Partner but the present one is sweeter still and regularly mistaken for a petrol vehicle by passengers. "Sweet" is never an adjective which should be applied to a VW 1.6 diesel.
I know this is subjective stuff and other people's experiences may differ but I hope it shows that I had favourable expectations of the Skoda, which were dashed and that my experiences were first hand.

Well maybe so simple folks, but Ford make engines for Aston Martin, but you don't get a V12 in a Mondeo.

Your turn with the pip.e

Well that was long! I couldn't be rrsed to read to the end, but your Skoda experience is subjective therefore your entire post is irrelevant.

No different from anyone elses of course, especially those who are personally abusive.

People who are 80+ probably remember the outstanding pre-war and after-war Škodas, before its reputation got destroyed by the communists.

Ugly! Seems a A3 with Skoda badge.

Skodas? I know loads of people of all ages who still wouldn't be seen dead in one, despite what some commentators say. Skoda, for the person who can't afford a VW. VW for the person who can't afford an Audi etc.

What a ridiculous comment! I can afford a £40k BMW 5 series, but chose a £34k Skoda Superb, as I preferit over the overpriced BMW or Audi equivalents any day.
With your comment, comes such stupidity. I feel so glad I am driving a Skoda, it proves I can think for myself and not have a narrow mind or self confidence issues.

You really are a pillock, aren't you? 1.2 75 BHP MPi, your grammar and spelling are atrocious and you sound like a 12 year old kid. Troll elsewhere, like a Fiat/Alfa/Chrysler review, where the real rubbish is found.

As the Rapid is 1000% better looking than a pig ugly Focus, there is really no contest. I wouldn't be seen dead in the current Focus.

Would you really have this over the similarly priced Mazda 3. No, thought not - neither would I.

The ford focus is much better looking than the rapid. The design of this car is lazy bit like an 80s car. Thankfully ford put more effort into the design of the focus. If car manufactors kept there designs too simple like this, cars would not evolve or move on.
For god sake cars look like this in the year 2014.

You, sir, are nothing more than a miserable f*cktard.

Key specs

  • Car tested: Skoda Rapid Spaceback SE
  • Price: £17,930
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 104bhp
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 10.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 118mph
  • Economy: 64mpg
  • CO2: 114g/km
  • Equipment: Touchscreen sat-nav, climate control, panoramic roof
  • On sale: Now