As I write this, Iíve had the most intensive week with the Skoda yet. Before you get the wrong idea and think that Iíve eloped with it, thatís not quite what I mean; more, itís a case of having been in it every day, driving all over the country and getting to grips with every facet of the car. With hundreds of miles clocked up in the process, it was one of those ënow or neverí points in a relationship where I could decide just what I think of the Spaceback.
During the week, I encountered everything from free-flowing motorways to congestion, A-roads, B-roads and plenty of urban driving too. Racking up miles after dark, in pouring rain and in perfect driving conditions, for the first time since the car came in I put the Skoda through an extended test drive that lasted a full week. Itís fair to say that the Skoda did everything asked of it, but then most of the miles were covered one-up with a minimum of luggage, so youíd expect that. After all, even a half-decent supermini will lap up long-distance journeys in all conditions. As I brimmed the fuel tank at the end of the week, I reflected on what stood out ñ and thatís where I started to struggle, because while the Skoda is perfectly good at providing comfortable family transport, it doesnít really excel in any single department.
The engine is much stronger than you might expect for a 1.4-litre three-cylinder unit, but thatís at the expense of economy and refinement. At first glance the equipment levels are excellent ñ and they are considering the asking price ñ but Skoda has piled on the stuff you can see, but left out some of the nice-to-have features you might expect, such as automatic lights or wipers, a heated front windscreen or a sixth gear. The said, the touchscreen multimedia system is a joy to use and itís this that really separates the Skoda from some of its lesser rivals. The Bluetooth system pairs easily and works brilliantly when on the move, the speakers deliver great sound, and the navigation works well, even if it isnít quite as intuitive to set up as the best systems on the market. But this is still a car that youíll struggle to fall totally in love with.
The next report will be written just after the annual family skiing trip in Europe and thatís one journey we donít think the Rapid would despatch too readily; four-up with a mountain of luggage is probably asking a bit too much of it. So itíll be left on the driveway while we take a different car, which youíll be able to read all about elsewhere in the pages of Diesel Car shortly.
Date arrived: 18th July 2016
Fuel economy: 78.5mpg (combined) 49.7mpg (on test)
Some cars have a warning light instead of a temperature gauge, to warn if the engine is cold or overheating. The Skoda gets a gauge.
The back seat doesn’t fold flat and the head rest on the front seat isn’t removable. It makes getting long loads into the car awkward.