Skoda Rapid review
The Skoda Rapid is a spacious family car that’s easy to drive. Its interior feels like it will last forever but it doesn’t look particularly stylish and satellite navigation is optional across the range
What's not so good
Find out more about the Skoda Rapid
If you’re after a family car that’s easy to drive and has a loads of interior space as well as big boot then it’s worth looking at the Skoda Rapid. Just be aware that the vast interior feels fairly cheap, and doesn’t have any high-tech touches.
The Rapid was launched in 2012 and updated in 2017 with some minor cosmetic changes and the addition of a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system – although it still doesn’t have satellite navigation as standard, or the option to add Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems .
The fundamental reason you’ll choose the Rapid over something like the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus hasn’t changed though – it costs less and has a much bigger boot. In fact, the Skoda’s 550-litre load bay is bigger than you’ll get in a much larger Ford Mondeo (541 litres).
Passenger space is also pretty good in the Rapid. You can have tall adults sitting up front and have space for people of a similar size to sit behind them. The big rear doors also make it relatively easy to fit a child seat.
The Skoda Rapid is a very capable small family car – it's just that there is nothing about it that tugs your heartstrings
That’s about all there is positive to be said about the interior, though. It’s made entirely of hard black plastics that look fine but feel pretty cheap – the saving grace is that everything is robustly screwed together so the Rapid should survive years of family life.
Driving the Rapid is easy too, thanks to comfy suspension, light controls and a good view out – the only fly in the ointment is the high-set rear window that can make reverse parking tricky.
Picking an engine is easy, though. If you do a lot of town driving then pick the nippy 110hp petrol model – it’s cheap to run and quiet at a cruise. If you do lots of motorway miles then consider one of the two diesels is only worth considering – but only if you’ll travel far enough to benefit from its slightly better fuel economy. Avoid the entry-level models that only get five-speed manual gearboxes because they’re noisy at motorway speeds.
The Rapid’s back-to-basic approach means it does without modern safety kit such as automatic emergency braking, although it did get a five-star crash-test score from Euro NCAP back in 2012. The tests have got tougher since then, so more modern five-star cars will be safer. But that said, if you need a lot of car for not much money then you can do far worse than the Skoda Rapid.
You can read more detailed and in-depth analysis of the Skoda Rapid in our following interior, practicality, driving and specifications review sections. And, if you want to see what sort of savings you can expect on the Skoda Rapid, then click through to our deals page.
The amount of space you get inside the Rapid is one of its biggest selling points, but it’s a shame you have to spend a little extra to get the full package of comfort features
The Rapid is probably one of the most inappropriately named cars in Britain, but what it lacks in performance, it more than makes up for in practicality
The Skoda Rapid has an impressive amount of passenger space for this type of car.
Getting comfortable in the driver’s seat is easy even if you’re tall or small. The driver’s seat adjusts for height, and the steering wheel for height and reach. Both front seats slide backwards to give you loads of legroom, but the recline function operates by pulling a handle rather than twisting aknob, so getting the backrest exactly as you want it can be a fiddle.
There’s also no front centre armrest unless you go for an SE L model – it’s a £110 option on cheaper versions – and SE Ls are also the only models to have a height adjustable passenger seat as standard – it’s a £150 option on the rest of the range.
Hop in the Rapid’s back seat and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much room there is. The Rapid can carry four 6’ 2” adults without anyone having to compromise too much on space, although tall adults in the back will brush their hair on the headlining if they sit bolt upright. A rear-centre armrest is an £180 option across the range.
Things are tighter with three adults in the back, though. The middle seat is hard and raised, and the hump in the floor means a third passenger will have to share your other two passengers’ footwells.
On the upside, the Rapid’s big rear doors give you decent access for fitting a child seat and there’s plenty of space to fit the base, although getting it locked into place is tricky because the Isofix points are obscured behind slits in the upholstery. Once it’s secured though, the seat slots in on top without issue.
The Rapid has an impressive amount of smaller storage spaces scattered around its cabin. You get a large glovebox that’ll swallow a couple of bottles of water and is also cooled by the car’s air-conditioning, large front door pockets and slightly smaller ones in the rear doors. You also get a couple of cupholders in front of the gearstick – although they’re too small for a Thermos mug – and a tray for your phone in front of the gearstick.
There are signs of cost-cutting however, such as the vanity mirrors on the underside of the sun visors that you can’t use at night because they don’t have lights, and the USB socket that’s hard to see in the dark because it isn’t illuminated.
The Skoda Rapid’s 550-litre boot is one of its biggest selling points – it’s much larger than the ones you’ll find in more expensive alternatives such as the Volkswagen Golf (380 litres), Ford Focus (316 litres) and the Vauxhall Astra (370 litres).
Skoda has added handy features such as a hidden storage area under the floor and a full-sized spare wheel. You also get a couple of hooks for your shopping and tie-down tethers for securing heavy luggage, but unfortunately there’s no adjustable boot floor to help you slide heavy items into place.
That’s a bit of a pain because carrying a lot of stuff is something the Rapid is rather good at – it’ll happy swallow a baby buggy and a couple of soft bags, and you’ll get two large suitcases in without having to bother removing the parcel shelf.
The lack of an adjustable boot floor also means you get a hump in the boot floor when you fold away the back seats (they fold 60:40 so you can carry long items and up to two passengers), which makes loading a bicycle a little awkward even though it’ll fit with both its wheels attached in the resulting 1,490-litre space.
The Skoda Rapid is easy to drive, reasonably comfortable and cheap to run, but none of its engines are very powerful and it lacks the clever safety tech available in alternatives
The Skoda Rapid’s easy to drive, but so boring you risk falling asleep at the wheel
The Skoda Rapid is available with a range of petrol engines and choice of manual (with five or six gears depending on model) or seven-speed automatic gearboxes.
If you drive a lot in town then the three-cylinder 1.0-litre 110hp petrol does the job. It sounds quite thrummy when you work it hard, but returns strong official fuel economy of 61.4mpg or around 50mpg in the real world. Instead of the five-speed gearbox fitted to the 95hp petrol, you get a six-speed manual that means its engine’s a little bit quieter at on the motorway.
If you do lots of motorway driving though, get the 125hp 1.4-litre petrol which gets from 0-62mph in nine seconds. It comes as standard with a smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic gearbox and has a four-cylinder engine that’s smoother than the three-cylinder models. It should also return close to 50mpg in normal driving.
All of this makes it hard to recommend the diesels – the 90hp 1.4-litre model, in particular, is clattery and doesn’t feel very quick, although it should get fuel economy close to 60mpg in the real world. The 115hp 1.6-litre diesel model is quicker and costs about the same to run, but it’s expensive to buy – costing more than the 125hp petrol automatic.
The Skoda Rapid is an easy car to drive, although it does lean quite a lot in bends.
You’ll notice that most on country roads, but you’ll have to drive very quickly for it to become an issue. The flip side of the soft suspension is that the Rapid is comfortable on bumpy country roads, only occasionally sending jolts into the cabin when you drive over sharper bumps. Light steering makes it easy to nip around city traffic and you get a good view out of the front of the car thanks to the thin pillars around the windscreen.
The only visibility issue is caused by the high-set rear window, which can make it hard to judge the back of the car when you’re reverse parking. It’s easily solved by specifying the £230 rear-view camera that’s available on all but the basic model.
If you often drive in town the seven-speed automatic gearbox is worth considering. It comes as standard on the 125hp petrol and is a £1,160 option on the 90hp diesel. It’s a little jerky at slower speeds, but you soon get used to it.
The 125hp petrol feels most at home on the motorway, and suffers from less engine noise than entry-level cars that have to make do with a five-speed or a six-speed gearbox.
Whichever version you choose though, the Rapid won’t be as safe as newer cars – it scored five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP, but that was under 2012’s less stringent testing procedures. It also does without the latest safety kit such as automatic emergency braking and lane-keep assist.
The Skoda Rapid has plenty of passenger space for the money, a large boot and an easy-to-use interior – it’s just a shame the dashboard’s good-looking plastics feel hard and cheap