Skoda Rapid Review

Find out more about the Skoda Rapid in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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  • Pros
  • Impressive rear legroom
  • Huge boot
  • Well-priced
  • Cons
  • Dull design
  • Outdated
  • Rivals are better to drive
  • MPG
    57 - 70
  • CO2
    103 - 115 g/km
  • Video

  • Price Guide

  • Trims

  • Summary

Model Review

The Skoda Rapid went on sale in 2012, and previewed a new design language for the brand, which Skoda has remained with ever since.

The Rapid was the car that symbolised what Czech brand meant at the time to buyers – cheap running costs, reliable and, perhaps most importantly; good value to buy.

It was hardly a revelation, but it offered strong equipment levels as well as Skoda’s tried and tested engines supplied by Volkswagen. It’s also worth noting that the Rapid was re-badged as the Seat Toledo, so the Spanish manufacturer’s version is more or less the same as Skoda’s.

The following year, Skoda added a more conventional hatchback to the Rapid range – the Spaceback, with its most striking deign feature being its large rear window, which merged into a gloss black panel on the boot lid.

Latest model

For 2017, Skoda updated the Rapid as opposed to giving it the well-needed refresh it was due. Debuting at the Geneva Motor Show, the revised model featured changes such as modified fog lights, tinted rear lights and a range of new wheel designs.

Bi-Xenon headlights and LED technology was also implemented onto the Rapid, while Skoda’s peppy 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine was added to the line-up.

A range of new safety assists and connectivity features were added to the Rapid as well to keep it up to date.

Since this announcement, Skoda has discontinued the more practical saloon-like Rapid, leaving just the Spaceback model on sale.

That said, at the time of writing, Skoda had just announced the name for its Rapid replacement – the Scala, which is set to be more advanced than the model it replaces, and an improved rival for the Volkswagen Golf, which the Rapid could never compete with. The Scala is set to be unveiled in December 2018, with sales starting in the spring of 2019.

 

Value for money

Few cars the size of the Rapid offer as much bang for your buck. When new in 2012, prices started at under £13,000 for the practical model. Unsurprisingly, costs have crept up since then, but it has remained a keenly priced model in the family hatchback class.

Prices for the Spaceback start from £14,550, which makes it similarly priced to some superminis, although the Rapid is much bigger. That said, entry level models are quite sparsely equipped. Standard models come with remote locking, a 6.5-inch touchscreen and front electric windows, but a few more goodies certainly go amiss.

But the used market is where the Rapid makes most sense. Rapid’s start from as little as £4,000, although this will buy you a high mileage example in an entry level spec. Up your budget to £5,000 and you’ll find good examples for that price. We saw a 2013 car fitted with the 1.2-litre petrol engine in mid-spec SE trim and with 55,000 miles on the clock for £5,000, that appears to be a good buy.

Spaceback models are more in demand, and there’s a lot more to choose from. These options start from around £5,000, which will find you a good example. But it’s nearly-new models where the most lucrative savings are found. A six-month old example can be found with as much as £6,000 off its asking price, which is a fantastic saving on a car of this size and price.

 

Looks and image

The Rapid is a car which favours functionality above all else, so it’s little surprise to find that it’s not a car that’s set to alight your emotions. The exterior and interior design is arguably quite bland and conservative – particularly the saloon-like version. If you want a Rapid that looks the part, your best option is to go for the Spaceback version in range-topping SE Sport trim. This comes with tinted lights, large alloy wheels, a black styling pack and also an extended tailgate at the rear – the latter being our favourite touch about the Rapid.

The interior is as you might expect – solidly built but lacking in flair. That said, all models come with a 6.5-inch touchscreen which is a big bonus, but even with the option of Skoda Connect infotainment on later models, the Rapid lacks the smartphone connectivity and tech you’ll find in rivals. But it’s well thought-out and the touchscreen’s simplicity is an added bonus. The interior quality is not up to the standards you’d find in the larger Skoda Octavia or the Volkswagen Golf, but the Rapid takes up a different price point so it’s rather low rent material quality can be forgiven.

As for the driving experience, it’s a forgettable one, but for those simply wanting a car to get to A and B in, it’s hard to fault. The eel-weighted steering is pleasant, and the Rapid is a solid motorway cruiser regardless of which engine you go for, but it’s certainly not the last word for fun. The ride could also be improved, although in general it is incredibly comfortable.

Video Review

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxkK4IJ8V1Y
Space and practicality

If space is one of the most important factors in your next family car, the Rapid could be an excellent choice. If you go for the standard Rapid hatchback, this offers a huge 550 litres of boot space, which absolutely eclipses all of its key rivals – it almost offers as much as the Skoda Octavia, too. If you fit a spare wheel, this reduces slightly to 530 litres, but not noticeably. Folding the rear seats increases this to 1,490 litres. Even the smaller Spaceback can still muster up 415 litres with the rear seats in place (1,381 litres with them folded), while both variants also offer plenty of interior storage throughout the cabins.

Both models also offer plenty of rear space, with the Spaceback just offering that bit more room thanks to its higher roof line. Either way, adults in the rear will have plenty of headroom and legroom. The only thing worth noting is that the Rapid has quite a narrow profile, so squeezing three adults in the rear is not as easy as it is in rivals, such as the Ford Focus.

While the Rapid received a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating in 2015, it should be noted that safety testing has moved on since then and the Rapid would not score that well if tested today. While it comes with the essential safety kit and has proven to be a safe car, it misses out on the safety assists you would find in newer rivals. Autonomous emergency braking is offered as a £270 option on all but the entry level trim, but it’s a shame that this kit is not fitted to all models.

 

Engines

Skoda has chopped and changed the Rapid’s engine line-up quite heavily since 2012, and as the Rapid approaches its replacement, the only engine you can have new is a turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine. You can have this with either 94bhp or 108bhp (as you can on the Fabia). The 94bhp engine comes with a five-speed manual only, with the 108bhp engine having the option of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission.

This 1.0-litre unit replaced a 1.2-litre petrol unit, while a 1.4-litre petrol engine with 123bhp used to be available, too, and was the quickest engine in the range with an 8.8 second 0-60mph time.

On the diesel front, Skoda used to offer a 89bhp 1.4-litre TDI, as well as a 113bhp 1.6-litre TDI.

 

Running costs

The Rapid is a remarkably cheap car to run, and it’s of little surprise that they have become such a hit with taxi drivers, which is also a testament to their reliability.

The diesel engines are unsurprisingly the most efficient, and can return up to as much as 74.3mpg, with CO2 emissions as low as 94g/km in the case of the 1.4-litre diesel. Even the thirstiest petrol – the 1.4-litre petrol – can manage 58.9mpg, with CO2 emissions of 114g/km.

As for the current petrol units, you can expect between 65.7mpg and 67.3mpg, with emissions between 109 and 112g/km of CO2.

Insurance groups vary between 13 and 17 on current versions, but past versions managed to sit in groups as low as seven.

Things to look for

Skoda has an excellent reliability record and lots of happy, loyal owners, as shown by the firm’s high rankings in surveys by Auto Express and What Car? as the Rapid is built from tried and tested VW parts.

The only thing to note is that the DSG automatic gearbox can be problematic in other Skoda models, so it would make a good idea to inspect these models more carefully than normal. Also check that they have had the gearbox fluid changed at the correct intervals.

 

Rivals

The closest rival to the Skoda Rapid is the car it shares its underpinnings with – the Seat Toledo. Other important hatchback rivals include the Ford Focus, Hyundai i30, Kia Cee’d and Vauxhall Astra -  while you could also look at an older Skoda Octavia or Volkswagen Golf for similar money.

 

Depreciation

Unlike the Skoda Fabia and Octavia, the Rapid is not a car that is well-known and it’s a car that many buyers forget about when searching for a used hatchback. Use this fact to your advantage, with used models available from as little as £4,000, and sizable savings available off new models.

Which Rapid to Pick

Trims Explained

As the Rapid approaches the end of its lifetime, only three trim levels are available – S, SE Tech and SE Sport. Also bear in mind that these prices are for the Spaceback – the only model available new at the time of writing.

S

Entry-level S comes with the basics, but not a lot else. As standard it comes with 15-inch steel wheels with plastic wheel covers, remote locking, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with SD and USB connections, electric heated door mirrors, front electric windows, a heated rear window and stop and start technology.

The S is priced from £14,550

SE

SE is our pick of the range, and it adds plenty of extra standard equipment. It comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, hill hold assist, rear parking sensors, front fog lights and satellite navigation, which also offers Bluetooth and voice control. It also comes with climate control, a leather steering wheel and handbrake, cruise control, front armrest, trip computer and rear electric windows.

SE costs from an affordable £15,785,

SE Sport

Range-topping SE Sport is the sporty-looking model. It adds black 17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic glass roof, extended tailgate glass to give it a sportier look, tinted cornering fog lights, tinted rear lights, black door mirrors, a black roof spoiler and sports seats.

Priced from £16,985

Summary

  1. Available in two hatchback guises
  2. SE model is well-equipped…
  3. But basic models are sparsely kitted out
  4. Huge, practical boot
  5. Excellent rear seat space
  6. Uninspiring design
  7. Bland to drive, but does the basics well
  8. Solid reliability record
  9. Great used buy
  10. A competent car, but there’s better rivals available for not a lot more money