TEST DRIVE – Skoda Rapid

SKODA' Rapid
SKODA' Rapid
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Motoring man Les Oliver takes a quick look at the new no-frills Skoda Rapid.

A FAMILIAR name returns to the Skoda line-up in the shape of the new Rapid.

It slots in between the Fabia and forthcoming new Octavia, which will be slightly larger. better equipped and more expensive than the outgoing model when it arrives in March.

The new Rapid is the seventh model in Skoda’s stable and part of an ambitious range revision programme.

Costing £12,900 to £17,850, it is an attractive no-frills, almost austere, family hatchback.

It is spacious, created to a timeless design, with an enormous boot and competitively priced against the opposition.

It is so spacious that it has more rear leg room than the current Octavia in the class above.

There are three trim levels, S, SE and Elegance, all offering value for money. Every model comes with daytime running lights, remote central locking, curtain airbags, rake/reach adjustable steering wheel, height-adjustable driver’s seat and electric front windows.

SE models get an extra £1,620 worth of equipment for £950 including 15in alloys, body-coloured mirrors and door handles, air-conditioning, trip computer, mobile device interface, leather steering wheel and Bluetooth connectivity.

Range-topping Elegance models get 16in alloys, cornering front fog lamps, cruise control, height adjustable passenger seat, rear electric windows, chrome interior detailing and a four-spoke multi-function steering wheel.

It’s huge boot (550 litres with all seats in position, 1490 with the seats down) is as practical proposition with a large tailgate opening for people wanting to carry large objects.

The 4483mm-long new Rapid embraces Skoda’s fresh approach to design featuring the new logo, a wide chrome-rimmed grille housing 19 vertical slats.

A coupe-like roofline sweeps back to meet the high shoulder line running the length of the car.

There’s a choice of five engines -1.2-litre three-cylinder with 75 bhp, 1.2 4-cyl with 86 or 105bhp, and a 120bhp 1.4-litre. There’s also a 104bhp 1.6 diesel.

Four of the five engines are materd five or six-speed manual transmissions are a six-speed manual for the petrols and a five-speed manual for the diesels, with the 1.4 120bhp fitted with a seven-speed DSG gearbox as standard.

Nice little touches include an optional reversible boot floor rubberised on one side for when you ant to carry dirty or wet items.

There’s also an ice-scraper located behind the fuel flap door, a safety vest holder under the front seat, and a car-park ticket holder on the A-pillar.

A rubbish bin is included with replacable plastic bags.

Green tech engines will follow next year including the greenline 99g/km CO2 version.

Its clear uncluttered dash will appeal to “back-to-basics” drivers but the hard plastic trim might seem a bit too harsh in comparison with rivals’ soft-touch finishes.

It rides well, is reasonably quiet and holds the corners without drama unless you get too enthusiastic.

The official fuel consumption is 55.4 for the petrol and 64.2 diesel.

Does it live up to its name? Well I drove the 105PS diesel (0-62mph in 11.8secs and 114mph) and the 1.2 86PS petrol (10.6secs, 118mph). Both coped adequately without being outstanding in performance terms.

The company is promising a new or revised model every six months as part of its plan to sell more than 1.5million cars worldwide by 2018.

With more cars already sold in 10 months this year than the whole of last year the new Rapid stands a good chance of making a significant contribution in 2013.

Six thousand sales are forecast in its first full year with 70 percent going to private buyers, largely young families and retired motorists, with the rest going to fleets.

TECH SPEC

Skoda Rapid SE 1.2 TSI 86PS

Engine: 1.2-litre petrol

Power: 86bhp

0-60: 11.8secs

Top speed: 114mph

Economy: 55.4mpg

CO2: 119g/km

Price: £14,650