SECTOR Compact hatch PRICE £12,500 – £18,500 (est) FUEL 72.4 – 48.3mpg CO2 99 – 134g/km
In an ever-more cost conscious world, surely Skoda should be one of the first names on the sheet when fleets are forming choice lists? After all, the firm sticks rigidly to its low price proposition, even as other value brands have begun to price their cars more expensively.
The new Rapid is a perfect case in point, and will start from under £13,000 when it goes on sale later in the year.
Executives confirmed that the car, marginally smaller than the current Octavia externally, but with more space inside, will remain extremely price competitive in the face of escalating prices from most other manufacturers.
The firm maintains that its position is to be a value, not fashion, proposition and so the new car will fit above Fabia and below Octavia. It recognises though that it has some work to do to explain its out-of-step sizing to fleets.
A Skoda executive told Fleet World: ‘Once the new Octavia is unveiled next year, it will all become clearer, because that car will increase in size, and so the range will make more sense. But until then, we will have to spend some time explaining how its fits in the market.’
The Rapid will come with two 1.2-litre petrol engines, a 1.4 TSI and a 1.6 diesel with the Greenline version offering CO2 emissions below 100g/km and Stop/Start, brake energy recuperation and low rolling resistance tyres.
Skoda has also hinted that base spec models will be better equipped than the current Octavia, while there are all the usual executive toys available such as Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, and the option of a DSG gearbox. The firm hopes to sell 6,000 units a year in the UK, a market which is showing record sales for the brand.
We drove the diesel and the 1.2 TSI, both 104bhp, and both were adequate, although the petrol was noticeably less nose heavy. Even with such low power outputs, they could be kept skipping along happily, although drop off-boost below 1,500rpm in the diesel at your peril.
It is likely that prices will climb to nearly £18,000 for the top spec diesel, but this puts it in a significantly cheaper price bracket than competitors such as the Kia cee’d and Hyundai i30.
For that money, fleets will get a very solid, sensible car. The boot is huge, offering up around 550 litres of space, while there’s plenty of rear passenger room too. Up front, the driver is faced with a perfectly comfortable driving position and stock VW Group materials that are on the workmanlike side.
There aren’t too many flourishes in the cabin, and you might even call it dull, but everything is laid out logically and cleanly, and it’s all good honest fare. For a fleet looking for trusty, reliable, if unspectacular motoring, you won’t find many cars hitting that brief as ideally as the Rapid.
The outside is a little more ambitious though. The Rapid is the first car to feature Skoda’s new design language, and it looks sharp and well-proportioned. In the UK, we’re not big fans of small saloons, and it does look like one even though it’s a hatch, so there’s another spot of communication the sales team will have to do. But that approach hasn’t been a deal breaker for the Octavia, so it shouldn’t be for this car, and once fleet buyers see the size of the boot, that should bring more than a few onside.
The Rapid is not the most exciting car, but it could be the ideal one for fleets: a big boot, low price, strong running cost proposition and parsimonious engines. Positioning it in the choice list and getting drivers to understand where it sits size-wise will be the biggest job.