THE SKODA Rapid is new in every sense of the word. As an addition to an already impressive line-up of models which includes the Fabia, Yeti and Octavia, the Rapid is what I would describe as Skoda’s saloon, writes Steve Sinfield.
“New’ was a word Skoda wanted to focus on with the Rapid. This isn’t one of their old models slightly tweaked and given a new badge – the Rapid really is from a clean piece of paper.
The outer body features extremely clean lines and angles - something you may take for granted with a freshly designed car, but what Skoda refer to as the Bohemian crystal production method inspired by the company’s Czech heritage.
When you’re buying a car you probably won’t be too bothered about the Bohemian crystal effect, you will be more interested in the fact that the Rapid is a saloon but not one necessarily for the tweed jacket Sunday driver.
The Rapid combines a sporty look along with traditional family saloon values. Sleek and sporty, Skoda even went to the trouble of redesigning its badge for this model.
Saloons are traditionally spacious cars with plenty of room and comfort for all passengers while giving you boot space large enough to take the kitchen sink with you.
The Rapid may be new but it has stayed true to the characteristics of a saloon.
Front passengers have bags of leg room with the added comforts of tonnes of storage space including a novel safety vest storage compartment under the front seat.
My model was the mid-range SE. If I was buying a Rapid I would go the extra mile for the top of the range Elegance model and enjoy the extras it brings such as front arm rests for that extra dash of comfort.
Skoda has packed the Rapid with quirky but useful features.
My SE model came fitted with the optional winter pack (£475) but this gave me added bonus of telescopic front light washers.
It took me a while to realise what was happening each time i washed the windscreen – you need to be out of the car to witness its full glory.
As you wash the windscreen, light washers pop out of the front of the bumper and give your lights a good blast of water before neatly folding away again completely out of sight.
Or take the ice scraper Skoda gives you – permanantly stored within the door of the fuel filler cap so that it is always there should you need it.
Or how about the reversible boot floor so that you can switch between the comfort of fabric to rubber for if you’re transporting wet or dirty items.
Not forgetting the vast array of cargo nets and hooks in the boot for securing your items as well as practical cabin extras such as a sunglasses holder.
The Rapid has all of this plus equally impressive performance under the bonnet.
The Rapid is available with a choice of four petrol engines and one diesel – mine came with a mid-range 1.2 litre 86PS petrol engine which delivered 0- 62mph of 11.8 seconds with combined fuel efficiency of 55.4mpg.
If it’s power over efficiency you relish then there is a 1.2 litre 105PS variant delivering 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds with 52.3mpg of a 1.4 litre 122PS offering 0- 62mph in 9. seconds at 48.7mpg.
I never fully loaded my Rapid to see how it performs carrying a load but overall I was impressed with the 1.2 litre engine and as the emissions are low at 119g/km compared to 125 or 134g/km I’m sure my wallet would be equally impressed.
If you opt for an SE model Rapid like the one I tested then as standard you can expect bundles of gizmos including cruise control, hill start assist, Bluetooth integrated telephone system, six speakers and touches of leather in the interior.
Admittedly, my model came with a few extras including a clever sat nav system (£550), heated seats and washer nozzles (£475) and better alloy wheels (£375) – yet the car still costs less than £18,000.
Strip out all of the extras and you can pick up a Skoda Rapid SE model for just £14,650.
And even when you pack it out with almost every conceivable extra, my test model still only came to £17,295.
Who else can offer you a saloon of this size and quality for this price?
The Rapid is well priced for such a great car.