Skoda Rapid – Review
By Liam Bird
OK, let’s deal with the rather large elephant in the review (or whatever the proper saying is) first, shall we? The latest edition to Skoda’s now seven car line-up, the Rapid, is not very rapid at all. Whichever engine you plump for – the Rapid can be had with a 1.2 TSi petrol, a 1.4 TSi petrol or a 1.6 TDi diesel – performance-wise the Rapid can only ever be described as adequate (0-62 takes around 11 seconds) but let’s say useful for politeness’s sake. But it only takes one glance to realise this isn’t a car that was built for the racetracks of this world.
Designed to offer the looks of a saloon car with the practicality of a hatch, the Rapid is bigger than Skoda’s Fabia and yet still smaller than their Octavia. It’s also the first of a range of new Skodas that embrace the Czech manufacturer’s latest and more dynamic looking design language. A little conservative it might be, but there’s no denying the combination of sharp creases that make up the bodywork of the Rapid help create a neat, and elegant, if ultimately a little unassuming, look.
If your budget, stretches to it, or that of your fleet manager’s (with Benefit in Kind (BIK) ratings from only 14 percent, the Rapid is expected to provide a boost to the brand’s rapidly growing fleet sales) I’d recommend going for as high a spec as possible too. Lower range Rapids do without Skoda’s rather attractive 16” alloys, the chrome detailing, the foglights and the all–important colour coded trim.
“Different league in practicality”
Regardless of whatever Rapid you pick though, the one thing you won’t feel short-changed about is the amount of space you get. Compared to the likes of VW’s Golf or Ford’s Focus, Skoda’s new arrival is in a different league all together when it comes to practicality. That rear hatch hides a generous 550-litre load space with the rear seats up. Fold them and that figure stretches to a cavernous and class leading 1,490. That’s enough to rival many an estate, and the boot mat is double sided too; rubber for when you’re at the Garden centre, carpet for your Sunday Best.
Up front there’s Skoda’s usual mix of VW sourced switch gear and hard wearing materials, but compared with say, their Yeti or Superb, overall the cabin is sadly a little lacking in lustre. You do get a good list of standard kit though, especially in the flagship Elegance as driven by yours truly. Cruise control, heated door mirrors, a multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth and air–con are all standard, plus a height-adjustable seat and a fully reach and rake adjustable steering column means finding the perfect driving position is a doddle too.
“Comfortable enough for a couple of hours”
I got to sample the 104 bhp 1.6 tdi and even though it’s not exactly what you’d call a mighty powerplant it’s more than capable of keeping the Rapid going at a respectable, if unremarkable pace. Providing of course you keep it spinning above 1500rpm; let the revs drop any lower and the turbo drops off-boost, seriously affecting your progress. But the 5-speed gear-change (only the 1.2 TSi gets six cogs) is light, and keeping things on the boil isn’t an arduous task. Overall interior noise is unobtrusive, and the ride, although a little brittle at times, remains comfortable enough for a couple of hours behind the wheel.
It’s stretching the imagination too far to ever call the Rapid an exciting car, but then again it’s hard to find fault with it either. It won’t set your heart aflutter but neither will it bother your purse strings. It’s a solid, sensible, choice and who I am to argue with that?
Skoda Rapid 1.6 TDi Elegance
Engine: 1598cc 16V 4Cyl diesel turbo
Power: 104 bhp @ 4400rpm
Torque: 185lb ft @ 1500-2500rpm
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual, Front wheel drive
0-62MPH: 10.6 sec
Max Speed: 118 MPH
MPG: 64.2 (combined)