In-depth reviews

Skoda Rapid review

The Skoda Rapid is a rather plain hatchback, but it offers a lot of space for the money

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Big boot, decent engines, cheap to run
  • Not much fun to drive, jittery ride, cheaper models are basic

Skoda has always been a brand associated with value, and although prices of cars like the Fabia supermini have steadily crept higher, the Rapid still combines versatility with an affordable price tag.

Thanks to its clever design, it has more interior room than models such the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf for a much lower price – the entry level models start at around £15,000.

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However, the Rapid is rather docile to drive, and its interior quality and ride comfort aren't up to the high standards found in the Golf or Hyundai i30.

Despite these drawbacks, the Rapid has some great qualities, such as its huge boot and a good range of engines – all of which add up to make it a reasonable choice for families on a budget.

It's a name from the past, but the Skoda Rapid doesn't have anything in common with the old models that have also used it. It's a thoroughly conventional front-wheel drive, five-door hatchback, although it does look like a small saloon from a distance. In terms of size, it sits between the Fabia and Octavia in the range, and it's offered for a price that's more supermini than hatchback.

Under the skin, the Rapid uses a platform and engines that are scavenged from elsewhere within the Volkswagen Group. It's identical to the SEAT Toledo (they're also built in the same factory in the Czech Republic), while the platform is a development of that found under the VW Polo Mk5.

An update to the Rapid in 2017 saw the addition of new engines and revised equipment. There are two versions of the 1.0 TSI three-cylinder turbo petrol motor, which come in 95PS and 110PS guises that have 94bhp and 108bhp respectively, while a 1.4 TSI 125PS four-cylinder is also offered with 123bhp and a seven-speed twin-clutch DSG gearbox. This is the only petrol auto you can have in the Rapid, because the 1.0 TSI is only offered with a five or six-speed manual depending on which trim you choose.

Diesel power comes in the shape of 1.4 TDI 90PS and 1.6 TDI 115PS units with 89bhp and 113bhp respectively. They both come with a five-speed manual as standard, while the lower powered engine can be had with the seven-speed DSG auto.

There are four versions of Rapid available - S, SE, SE L and Sport. It's worth noting that you can't get every engine in every trim, while the Sport model - which is similar in spec to Monte Carlo trim on the Fabia - is the only version to get a six-speed manual gearbox,but it only comes with the 1.0 TSI 115PS engine. That's no bad thing, though as it's the model we'd go for.

As well as the standard five-door hatch, Skoda also offers the Rapid Spaceback. This is another five-door hatchback, but it has a slightly tidier look to its rear end thanks to the all-glass tailgate, only marginally less boot space and lower prices.

With prices ranging from around £15,500 to £20,300, the Rapid is a value-driven model, so its most direct rivals are the largely identical SEAT Toledo, the Fiat Tipo and even the Suzuki Baleno large supermini. It can also count entry-level versions of the Vauxhall Astra, Renault Megane and Ford Focus, among others, while the Citroen C4 Cactus is another alternative.

The name Rapid comes from Skoda's past. It was first used on a six-cylinder model that was offered in the 1930s, but it's perhaps more famous as the sporty version of the rear-engined 130 saloon in the Eighties. It gained cult status courtesy of its sporty looks and tail-happy handling that was reminiscent of the Porsche 911, albeit at a far more sedate pace.

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