£15,555 - £19,390 Price range
57 - 78 MPG
Skoda’s cut-price saloon-esque hatchback might be a collection of cherry-picked VW bits under the skin, but they add up all together to make the Rapid a pretty capable family car.
The critics are all fans of the car’s affordability when it comes to buying and running the Rapid, and the space on offer is very impressive for this class.
However, those wanting something a bit more exciting to drive and to look at may want to look at the car’s more flamboyant rivals.
Cheapest to buy: 1.2-litre 90hp S petrol
Cheapest to run: 1.4-litre 90hp S diesel
Fastest model: 1.4-litre SE petrol
Most popular: 1.2-litre 90hp S petrol
One of the biggest selling points about the Rapid is the sheer amount of space it offers – several testers commented on how there was more than enough room for six footers up front and in the rear, whilst the boot is – at 550 litres in size – the largest you’ll find in this class. Boot space can be improved to over 1,400 litres with the seats down, though it’s worth pointing out that they don’t fold away completely flat.
The only big negative point about the car’s cabin is that you can certainly tell it’s been built on a fairly restrictive budget: whilst overall build quality is as you’d expect from a Skoda, and the control layout’s ergonomically sound, you’ll struggle to find any soft-touch plastics, and a handful of critics weren’t fond on the bland interior design.
As an everyday runabout, most critics seemed to be generally satisfied with the driving characteristics of the Rapid. The major controls are all easy to use, in true Skoda fashion, and road and wind noise seems to be fairly well suppressed for a car of this type. No comments were made on overall visibility, but one expert stated that – thanks to the car’s surprisingly narrow width for a car of this size – it wasn’t too difficult to navigate through narrower, tighter roads.
Those expecting the Rapid to be an engaging car to drive, though, will most likely feel a tad disappointed: whilst many described the car’s dynamics as ‘tidy’, there isn’t much here to stir the soul of the driving enthusiast.
The ride quality wasn’t met with that much praise either, with many stating that many of the car’s rivals, with their more advanced suspension setups (the Rapid makes do with more rudimentary components, especially at the rear) were noticeably more compliant and composed on rougher road surfaces.
The Rapid has a decent array of engines to choose from, most of which have been seen before in many Skodas and other Volkswagen Group cars. At time of writing, the range consists mostly of four cylinder petrols, though there is also an entry-level three cylinder engine, along with a diesel.
Most of the critics reckon that the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol and the 1.6 diesel are the ones to go for, the latter especially the case if you’re a fleet buyer.
The 1.6 TDI is, as you’d expect, quite an efficient engine, with Skoda claiming a pretty impressive 64mpg on the combined cycle is possible. However, as many reckon it’s a bit of a gruff and noisy unit, many reckon it’s the smaller, cheaper and equally powerful petrol that’s the pick of the range for the time being.
As far as transmissions go, all bar one engine comes with a five-speed manual, with the exception being the 1.4 TSI (petrol) with its DSG seven-speed automatic.
Despite its diminutive size, the tried-and-tested 1.2 turbocharged motor has quite a lot of puff on tap, and most critics reckon that – because it weighs 60kg less than the diesel-powered Rapids – it’s one of the best Rapid models to drive (though it must be said that, even in this spec, Skoda never envisioned the Rapid to be the car of choice for driving enthusiasts…).
The weight saving also seems to have helped improve the car’s efficiency: Skoda claims this spec of Rapid will return 52mpg on the combined cycle (a figure most testers got pretty close to), whilst the 125g/km of CO2 emissions puts it in £100 road tax territory.
There’s also an even more efficient ‘GreenTech’ version of the same engine, which – for a slight premium – reduces road tax bills to £30, thanks to reduced emissions, whilst the claimed combined economy figure leaps up to a very impressive 67mpg. However, there aren’t any reviews of Rapids in this spec, so we can’t comment on how (or, indeed, if) the eco improvements affect the way it drives.
All in all, if you’re set on acquiring a Skoda Rapid anytime soon, the 1.2 TSI model is certainly worth considering. Those who regularly do longer journeys might be financially better off with the diesel, but we can imagine most buyers feeling pretty satisfied with this engine choice.
Being one of the Volkswagen Group’s many tried-and-tested engines it can call upon, the 1.6 four-cylinder unit in the Rapid is a pretty good all-rounder. Whilst it’s not exactly an engine that’s brimming with power, most of the critics reckon that there’s enough available to get the car up to speed without having to really work the engine hard.
It’s the fuel consumption, though, that seems to be the Rapid diesel’s party piece – with claims of 64mpg on the combined cycle and, courtesy of the 114g/km of CO2 emissions, a 30 road tax bill (or, if you opt for the 104g/km Green Tech model, just £20 in tax), it’s by all means a pretty cheap car to run.
The only major chink in the Rapid diesel’s otherwise impressively competent armour is that the steep asking price – especially when you consider how much the entry level cars cost – ranks the diesel Rapid alongside some very capable competitors. Unless you’re 100% won over by the Skoda, it may be better to look at the cheaper Rapids in the range and the car’s main rivals before deciding which one to buy outright.
When it went through the Euro NCAP safety testing, the Rapid achieved the full five-star rating and got an impressive 94 per cent rating for adult occupant protection.
All models get a good compliment of safety features that include: ABS, ESP, driver and front passenger airbags, head airbags, side airbags for the front seat passengers, seatbelt reminder for front seat passengers.
Safety features may not be the most exciting things about a new car, but the Skoda really does excel in this area as you also get things like fuel line cut-off on collision, child seat fittings on the rear seat, headlight levelling and daytime running lights.
This could very well be the Rapid’s party piece, in particular for the cheaper models in the range: the Skoda offers terrific value for money, especially if you take into account how commodious the car is – as one critic pointed out, it offers ‘more-than-Golf space for Polo money’.
Standard equipment levels are also pretty good, with features such as air-conditioning, ESP, alloy wheels, electric windows and six airbags being fitted on even the most basic cars. Residual values are also expected to be pretty good as well too.
However, it is worth pointing out that the pricier models in the range do start creeping into the territory of more upmarket, yet only marginally more expensive rivals.
If you’re after practical everyday transport that doesn’t deal with all the complicated stuff most cars are fitted with nowadays, then the Skoda Rapid makes a pretty solid case for itself. Not only is it one of the most practical cars in this class, but it’s also pretty efficient and – depending on which model you go for – can prove to be terrific value for money.
Of course, there are some sacrifices to be made – neither the exterior nor the interior are that exciting to look at, nor is it that terrific to drive – and it does become more difficult to recommend the Rapid as the price increases. But, if you can live with or aren’t put off by the shortfalls, the new Skoda is at least worthy of a quick look around if you’re in the market for such a car – if you want a bit more quality to go with your space then take a look at the Skoda Octavia.