As the Rapid’s first birthday beckons, it’s time to wave goodbye to one of the roomiest compact cars on the market. Andy Goodwin reports.
Our test car was a 1.6-litre TDI with 104bhp and Skoda’s GreenTech package, which added stop-start technology, kinetic energy recuperation and low rolling-resistance tyres. While the Rapid failed to match Skoda’s claimed average 70.6mpg in our hands, I was more than happy with its real-world economy. The ‘Fuel Low’ warning light could often be on for a week before a visit to the fuel station was deemed a necessity. Less endearing were the five widely-spaced gear ratios and the narrow power band, which meant driving the Rapid was an exercise in being in the correct gear. While it never stalled, some hasty downshifts were required to keep the Rapid powering forwards. Once the engine was on song, the Rapid felt reasonably nippy, partly thanks to its 1,179kg weight, which is 196kg lighter than a diesel Kia cee’d – the equivalent of three adult passengers.
I discussed the spacious boot last month, and it really is one of the Rapid’s key strengths. With 550 litres behind the rear seats, there are very few items which won’t fit in the Rapid, and its large hatchback makes loading items really easy. The Rapid also boasts class-leading knee room for rear passengers, while the doors open almost 90 degrees for easy access. It didn’t have a particularly wide rear bench though, so the middle rear passenger could feel short changed. Such an abundance of luggage and passenger space led me to muse that the Rapid is ideally suited to taxi drivers, but as yet I haven’t seen one in the wild. I’m sure I will soon, it seems like a no-brainer thanks to its great economy, cheap tax band and 20,000-mile service intervals. During my time with the Rapid my only maintenance consisted of tyre pressure checks and replenishing the screen wash bottle once. The engine never required a drop of oil. The only fault was a broken driver’s air vent, which no longer blew in any particular direction. For some this would have been a bugbear, but as I normally set the air conditioning to demist, I never had it looked at. A week before returning the Rapid, a rear parking sensor began to misfire, telling me I was about to hit a phantom object. I cleaned the rear bumper and after a couple of days of bleeping, normal service – and peace and quiet – was restored.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was a feeling the Rapid is rather more utilitarian than the new generation of Skoda models we’ve become accustomed to. This was brought into sharp focus by the £18,175 list price of the Rapid Elegance we tested, which only had one optional extra – a £75 space saver spare wheel. Its basic level of interior trim, poor engine refinement, wind noise and tyre rumble can’t match rivals including the cee’d and Focus, and for a small increase in price over our test model, the Skoda Octavia is a better car. Diesel S versions of the Rapid start from £15,855, and it’s a much better value proposition at this lower price point, in my opinion. Skoda has already addressed some early criticism of the Rapid, with new shipments fitted with a more comfortable suspension set-up, revised steering and improved cabin materials. We sampled these updates in the Rapid Spaceback and it was better, so if you are thinking of buying a Rapid, it’s worth checking if it benefits from these alterations before taking the plunge. Either way, the Rapid is a very economical and spacious car, even if it’s not quite as exciting to be in or to drive as we’ve come to expect from the best Skoda has to offer.
|Whats Hot:||A huge boot and class-leading rear knee room makes the Rapid a car you buy with your head, not your heart.|
|Whats Not:||Too much engine, wind and tyre noise, as well as a basic cabin means the Rapid isnít as pleasant to drive as the best Skoda has to offer.|
|Date arrived:||5th April 2013|
|Mileage to date:||12,580 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||70.6mpg (official combined)
53.6mpg (on test)