There’s something comforting about Skoda. Like relaxing in an old comfy chair, hearing a favourite song or lighting a log fire on a cold day, Skoda is a car brand all about practical comfort without the frills & in some cases, such as with our 2012 Car of the Year the Superb Greenline Estate, a lot more besides.
Skodas newest model is the Rapid, named after an early 1930’s Skoda & also a 1984 rear engined Skoda 130 . Launched at the beginning of 2013 with a national TV campaign, it is aimed at families who require a practical ( there’s that word again ) vehicle, that will carry up to 5 people, with a large amount of boot space 550 litres, for those who require it. As Bernard Sumner sang on New Orders Everythings Gone Green, ” It seems like I’ve been here before, ” because in that respect the Rapid does what it says on the tin, but is in no way something new or different, but is in effect a budget Volkswagen with clever hatch back capability, looking not too dissimilar to VW’s Jetta or even the VW Bora.
Is there actually anything wrong with this ? Well my answer is ” No.” The Rapid is a no frills car that will do what the owner wants it to do & will do it regardless. Whilst budget brands such as Kia & Hyundai are not actually budget anymore the Volkswagen Group have been offering Skodas to customers as a value alternative to a VW for sometime now & have latterly been doing it with more aplomb than they’ve the right to & have built up a loyal customer base because of it.
Designed by Josef Kaba the Rapid is so practical it’s frightening. From the black seat cloth & matching black interior, to the clever hatched boot with reversible black boot floor of carpet or rubber, Skoda have manufactured the most perfect representation of a car for our austere times & being Skoda have done this really well.
The interior may be bland, but it’s solidly made with black plastic to the fore. The fixtures & fittings may lack the quality of those found in a VW Golf, but if like me kids get in & out of your car on a regular basis, there is not room for fancy dan touches for most parents nowadays, who require an easy clean surface in their car as well as in their homes.
The car may look austere but it still packs a load of goodies. On my test model which retailed at £17,100 were, 15″ alloys, curtain airbags, electrically heated & adjustable mirrors, Height & reach steering wheel, height adjustable drivers seat & Halogen lights, a leather four spoke steering wheel, leather hand brake lever, manual air con, a trip computer, MDI, Bluetooth & tinted glass. Not included were rear electric windows which is strange, as pretty much every car or van I test has these nowadays.
The best thing about the Rapid for me was the engine. I tested the 1.6 TDi 105 version which packed a lot of punch under the bonnet, 0-62 mph in 10.6 seconds, whilst still offering me almost 50 mpg. This is a combination I like, a quick agile a car that saves you money & I had real fun in my Rapid particularly on the motorway where it cruised nicely in fifth gear,. Skodas official mpg for the combined is 64.2, I averaged just under 50 mpg & with emissions of 114g/km it will save you paying the Treasury too much as well.. The ride isn’t subtle though. If you like a chewy toffee much like a Citroen or Renault, you may find the Rapids rather hard & bumpy much like the entire VW/Audi range. However, it’s more engaging to drive than similarly priced Hyundais or Kias & because of it’s clunky ride actually feels more solid & better made as well.
I found the Rapid quite entertaining to drive, as it will keep up with most things on the road & has a nice turn of pace when you need it, except perhaps a footballers wife in a Bentley who left me for dead on the A56 whilst I was on my way back from the accountants. Talking of our accountant, he asked me what the Rapid was like & I told him what I am telling those of you reading this, it won’t cost the earth, it’s better made than some VW’s & it will be reliable but the flip side is that it won’t excite you when you get into it every morning. A bit like that comfy chair I mentioned earlier.
Skoda have been awfully effective in the UK with their range since the launch of the Fabia & I see no change to that with the introduction of the Rapid. If you want a value for money solidly built car that drives better than it looks, The Rapid could just be for you. Just don’t expect to catch a footballers wife in one if you get my drift. 3/5.