Skoda Rapid vs rivals

The eighties Skoda Rapid was a much-maligned coupe, but now the badge is back on this top-value family hatch. Is the joke on its rivals?

Kia Cee'd vs Skoda Rapid and Chevrolet Cruze

Skoda is on a roll. Its rugged Yeti crossover and spacious Superb family car have class-leading credentials, while the clever Citigo city car was crowned our 2012 Car of the Year.

Now it’s the turn of the Rapid to try to continue the success story. The new car is based on the underpinnings of the Roomster and VW Polo, and aims to deliver family car space and practicality for mid-range supermini money.

There’s a limited line-up of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, and we test the frugal 1.6 TDI diesel in well equipped SE spec. A £17,100 price puts the Rapid in the firing line of two cost-effective family cars.

The entry-level Kia Cee’d 1 1.6 CRDi mixes style and a grown-up driving experience, while the Chevrolet Cruze has a gutsy diesel and roomy cabin. Can they stop the Rapid continuing Skoda’s winning streak?

Verdict

Skoda has enjoyed a strong run of road test success in recent years, but the new Rapid can’t extend the brand’s winning ways.

The car certainly continues Skoda’s value-for-money tradition, while few rivals in this class are as spacious and practical. The Rapid is also well equipped and cost effective to run. As a result it narrowly beats the Cruze, which is roomy, fast and generously kitted out, but hobbled by a cheap-feeling cabin, poor residuals and the highest price in this test.

However, the Skoda can’t quite pull off the same trick against the Kia. Yes, the Cee’d has the smallest cabin, but it’ll be large enough for most families’ needs, plus it feels a cut above the rest in terms of quality and layout. The Kia also comes with plenty of equipment, and has low CO2 emissions and an industry-leading seven-year warranty. The fact it’s the cheapest car to buy is merely the icing on the cake.

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