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Skoda Rapid: Test Drive Review

Date: 30 July 2012   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £15,000 (est.)
Key rival: Hyundai i30

Skoda is targeting an unconventional corner of the market with the new Rapid.

The all-new compact hatchback, which also marks a new styling direction for the firm, sits between the lower medium Octavia and the Fabia supermini and is being sold on its big space and value. That's a tactical move in part because the next Octavia arrives in 2013 and promises distinctly larger proportions, so the smaller car allows Skoda to offer a condensed alternative.

Despite its nominal proportions, the company is keen to crow about the Rapid's space and somewhat quirky practicality features. The 550-litre boot is claimed to be a class best, as is rear passenger leg and knee room, and among the unusual but interesting practicality options are a reversible boot floor - one side carpet, and one side wipe-clean rubber - an ice-scraper mounted inside the fuel tank cap, and a removable bin in the door pocket.

Rarely are manufacturers' claims quite so justified but the boot is colossal given the size of the car, and space for rear passengers is equally impressive. The front of the cabin is a little dark when finished in black and it lacks the soft-touch plastics now common among rivals, although it feels sturdy enough. The dash itself is very straightforward and decked out with the usual Volkswagen Group switchgear.

To drive, the Rapid apes the company's existing models with predictable though not scintillating handling and reasonable ride comfort. There's a little wind buffeting from the A-pillars on the move and tyre noise is audible, but neither are loud enough to be offensive. BusinessCar sampled the 105hp versions of the 1.6 TDI diesel and 1.2 TSI petrol, both of which suited the Rapid well and offered smooth acceleration.

Initially, the cleanest model will be the 90hp 1.6 TDI with a five-speed manual gearbox, emitting 109g/km and returning 67.2mpg. A series of cleaner Greentech-branded variants will be introduced in 2013, each bearing low rolling-resistance tyres, a stop/start system and brake-energy recuperation, which will bring the CO2 low point down to 104g/km from the same 1.6 TDI version.

P11D costs and equipment levels have yet to be confirmed for the UK but a starting price of just under £13,000 has been mooted, and Skoda's reputation for value means fleets aren't likely to feel short-changed.

The Rapid is a tricky one to pin down in terms of rivals - its size, shape and halfway-house status between the Fabia and the Octavia render it something of a niche - but the Hyundai i30 and the Kia Ceed are about as close as it gets. Skoda reckons the Rapid also has the potential to steal sales from basic versions of more mainstream models such as the Ford Focus and Renault Megane. Given its gargantuan interior space and likely keen pricing, there's no reason why it shouldn't.

Skoda Rapid 1.6 TDI 105
P11D price£15,000 (est.)
Model price range£13,000-£18,000 (est.)
Fuel consumption64.2mpg
CO2 (tax) 114g/km (15%)
Service intervalvariable miles
Insurance (1-50)group tbc
Warranty3yrs 60,000mls
Boot space550/1490 litres
Engine size/power1598cc/105hp
Top speed/0-62mph118mph/10.6secs
On sale November 2012
VerdictExcellent space and
likely good value create
a fine budget option


Excellent space and likely good value create a fine budget option