Road Test: Škoda Rapid 1.6 TDI CR Elegance
Sector: Supermini Price: £17,850 Fuel: 64.2mpg CO2: 114g/km
Despite the name, and its 1980s namesake, sportiness isn’t woven deep into the Škoda Rapid. However, Rapid should be the adverb for the way these will sell, because it’s a thoroughly talented small car which will make you question sizing up to a C-segment model.
The Rapid uses an extended Polo platform, and despite its saloon-like silhouette, there’s a hatchback which opens to the rear of the roof offering easy access to a large boot. Rear head and legroom feels closer to a C-segment car, with only the comparatively narrow cabin to give it away.
That’s more an indication of how much cars have grown recently than a suggestion that this is small. The Rapid is about the same size as the 1990s Volkswagen Vento, but with a longer wheelbase. All that really separates this from the family cars of old is a ride quality which errs closer to the supermini class than a lower-medium saloon.
Škoda does affordability well, stripping back frivolity to keep prices down without seeming cheap. So the Rapid is an understated, conservative-looking car, short on flambouyant design but high on value and build quality. It won’t make you glance back over your shoulder as you walk away, but it should age well.
Equipment follows suit, giving you just what you need. Elegance models count cruise control, USB/Bluetooth connectivity and heated seats among their standard features. However, you can’t get a Rapid with parking sensors or a start/stop system, both unusual omissions nowadays, and coffee drinkers will lament the cup holders squeezed in front of the gear stick. Getting your cup out while in an odd-numbered gear is tricky, and tall ones don’t fit at all.
Škoda has the familiar 103bhp 1.6 TDI penned as the most popular engine for fleets. It’s got plenty of power for a car of this size, and even with only five gears it’s very quiet on the motorway too. However, it’s noticeably more gravelly than in other models when idling, especially from start-up.
Not that buyers are likely to mind much. On a 300-mile run, the Rapid easily matched its claimed economy figures despite cold weather and no efficiency-boosting sixth gear. With an even more economical GreenTech version on the way, Rapid may be a misnomer for this car’s performance but at least it’s as true of the fuel consumption.
Škoda has all the right ingredients in place with the Rapid, with plentiful space, impressive economy and high quality throughout. It’s perhaps a little conservative in its design, but perfectly targeted to what the carmakers’ customers are looking for and a well-considered addition to the range.