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 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.
The Skoda Rapid’s easy to drive, but so boring you risk falling asleep at the wheel
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.