The only thing the 2014 Skoda Rapid has in common with its 20th Century predecessor is the name.
This is a good thing. What is also a good thing is that I have just handed back a car that I reckon really fits the bill for a small family; especially one that has to watch the pennies.
The Rapid sits between the Fabia and the Octavia in the Skoda family.
From the back, the car looks oddly narrow but this is deceptive. Despite the saloon-like appearance it is in fact a five-door with a large easy-close hatch, a low-loading lip and an absolutely massive boot – best in class (550L with the back seats up) as it happens.
Inside, there’s ample legroom and storage. The designers have made a great use of the space available and not only was I able to load four adults (incl. self) and a nipper but also the boot swallowed everything we needed for a long weekend with space to spare. Incidentally, the rear seats split and there’s the option of a ski hatch/armrest. A nice touch is the reversible floor mat with one side carpeted and the other a mud-shrugging rubber surface. Our Rapid had a space-saver spare and useful extra space under the boot floor.
There’s the usual variety of seven engine options from a 1.2L petrol with 75PS to a pokier 1.4L turbo with 122PS and the excellent DSG gearbox. If your mileage is going to be mostly local then one of the petrol engines should fit the bill. If however you are going to cover a higher mileage there’s a choice of three diesels. Our example had the 1.6L (105PS/114g/km) driving through a five-speed ‘box and it was brilliant.
Over our weekend away, and for the most part fully laden, this car achieved a splendid 60.5mpg. This was partly due to a long period of slowly following the swaying buttocks of a caravan along the twisting miles of the A338. Later, to rub it in almost beyond all human endurance, a huge horsebox leapt out in front of us. Overall though, a very creditable fuel economy figure.
This was not at the expense of performance either. Although by no means fast, this diesel Rapid delivered brisk, acceptable acceleration and never felt like it was out of its depth at any time. I didn’t try it but the Company reckon the car will nip to 62mph in 10.6 seconds. Handling isn’t dynamic but it is safe and stable and ride comfort is good on the cloth upholstered seats, with little evidence of body roll.
The Skoda Rapid has the usual array of safety features, like ABS and ESC and so on, plenty of airbags and Isofix for the kids. The brakes needed a bit of pressure to get some bite but pulled up straight and true. This car had the optional 17” alloys (which look great) but for even better ride comfort I’d stick with the standard 16 inchers.
Our Skoda was in ‘Elegance’ trim and had all the accessories needed including Bluetooth, climate, a multi-function leather steering wheel, cruise, Aux, USB and parking sensors. No navigation on this model though, although it’s an option.
All of the Rapid’s electrical and mechanical components are tried and tested given the German DNA and it feels built to last too, with a solidly constructed interior and that well known reassuring ‘clunk’ when you close the doors. The Rapid is good value, with prices starting from around £13,000. Our version with a large selection of optional extras including the rather fetching ‘Race-Blue’ metallic paint has a list price of just £19,610, although I expect there are some deals around.
With the Rapid, the Czech company has created a car that appeals to family car buyers everywhere. It’s practical, efficient, unpretentious and easy to drive. Clearly it is never going to set your pulses racing but there are lots of people out there in the automotive world who will need a car just like this. With the attributes I’ve mentioned and a competitive price there are few better choices on offer.