12th June 2016
Presented by Will Titterington
Looking for an objective review of the new Skoda Rapid Hatchback? OSV have got you covered from engines to lease deals.
The new Skoda Rapid Hatchback may not be the most exciting car you’ll ever own, but if it’s affordability, sensibility and practicality that you’re looking for, it ticks all the right boxes.
The name is a bit of an odd choice, because this car is literally anything but rapid. However, its name is a sentimental choice by Skoda, as the original Rapid was released back in 1935. Back then, the car was super down to earth – and this is the case now.
It’s a humble family car that will take good care of you as you go about your everyday business on the road. It’s also cheap to run, and boasts a familiar cabin that makes you feel right at home.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2017 Skoda Rapid Hatchback review.
The Rapid might not offer much by way of on-the-road entertainment, but it’s easy enough to drive. Light steering and easy to use controls make for a very relaxing driving experience. It makes you feel right at ease in a way that more sportier hatchbacks just can’t. It’s unfussy and comfortable, and ready to be at your beck and call each time you need it.
There are a handful of petrol engines that start with a 1.2-litre engine which is available in either 88 or 108bhp guise. The former lacks power and can only be paired up with the entry level S trim, while the latter comes available with the more usable SE model. There’s not really anything to separate them in terms of economy and efficiency.
The most powerful petrol engine is a 1.4-litre 123bhp. Like the 1.2, it’s a bit inflexible in that it can only be paired up with a DSG automatic ‘box. Doing without a manual transmission means its fuel consumption will be slightly higher, but average fuel economy returns of 58.9mpg is still a good in this class. However, it will cost significantly more to buy outright.
There are two diesel engines, a 1.4 and a 1.6. The 1.4-litre 88bhp is the most frugal in the range, but performance is still reasonable. It can do 0-62 in 11.7 seconds, but the fact that it has only three cylinders means it will feel coarse at times. The 1.6-litre diesel engine produces up to 113bhp and can get you from a standstill to 62mph in 10.0 seconds. It’s smooth and represents good value for money.
You can pair the 1.4-litre diesel engine up with a DSG transmission if you prefer. It will bump up fuel costs, and you’ll have to fork out an extra £1,000.
The suspension is well-judged, which means that you can expect to travel in relative comfort. Crash over a bigger pothole, though, and you will feel it. Moreover, if you purchase the Rapid Sport model you’ll have to make do with the larger alloys that reduce overall quality.
Road insulation is good, and with the cabin doing a good job at keeping out most external interferences, such as engine noise.
Like practically all Skoda’s, the Rapid’s interior is simple and functional. The dash shares a number of its buttons and switches with the VW Golf, but overall quality is not as good. This car is cheaper to buy than the Golf, and as such it doesn’t get as many top class materials. There are some soft touch plastics, but they combine with harder surfaces.
On the whole, though, there can’t really be any complaints with how well this car is put together. Build quality is good, and this a homely cabin that is easy to live with.
The Rapid’s strength is its practicality. The boot measures 550-litres, which is way more space than many of its rivals are offering. And because this car has the shape and size of a proper hatchback, the boot is easy to access and use. Its floor can be reversed or removed altogether, while a wipe-clean non-slip material on one side is perfect for if you need to stick a wet dog in the boot.
The driver’s seat is height adjustable, which is good for both comfort and visibility, while headroom upfront is 10cm better than in the VW Golf. The cabin is airy and roomy, while storage spaces include a reasonably sized glove box, a couple of door pockets and two cup holders.
You can always rely on Skoda for offering a car that represents good value for money, although the most basic model here is not as well equipped as we’d expect. Its standard kit includes an adjustable steering wheel, electric front windows and power-adjustable heated mirrors, but air conditioning is missing – it’s not even available as an optional extra.
The Rapid SE adds air conditioning, well as 15” alloys Bluetooth connectivity, tinted glass, and a better stereo system. The SE L model gets dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and 16” alloys, while the Rapid Sport is bolstered by 17” alloys, red-stitched sports seats, a leather steering wheel and tinted rear windows.
Prices for the new car start out from £15,555 and rise to £19,400. If you prefer to lease, you can pick up a deal from as little as £170 + VART per month. For more information on our Skoda Rapid lease deals, you can click here.
In terms of running costs, the Rapid is affordable – though there are cheaper cars to run in this sector. The cheapest engine is the 1.4-litre diesel unit which averages fuel economy returns of 78.5mpg and costs nothing to tax. The 1.6-litre diesel offers a bit more power, costs nothing to tax, and is good for returns of 67.3mpg.
Insurance is reasonable, with the basic model sitting group 13 out of 50. The most expensive model occupies group 17, which is competitive in this class.
The 550-litre boot is easily one of the biggest in this class, and is way bigger than the one in the Ford Focus.
None of the engines stand out as such, but they’re all reasonable performers that suit this cars character perfectly. The 1.4-litre petrol is the quickest, and can do 0-62 in just 9.0 seconds.
Skoda’s aren’t as cheap as they once were, but they’re still among the most affordable to run.
There’s no fun to be had here and your pulses won’t be racing.
Base Level Model Is Super Basic
The interiors feel low rent and they’re a bit sluggish on the road.
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our Skoda Rapid Hatchback review.
If you’re on the lookout for a small hatchback, the Volkswagen Golf Hatchback should always be on your shortlist. It’s been pleasing families for generations, with its compactness, practicality and fab interior.
The Golf is very enjoyable to drive. It’s quiet and comfortable, the steering is precise, there is plenty of grip and little body lean. It’s not as entertaining as the Ford Focus, which remains the car to beat in this class when it comes to drivability; but it makes good progress and always feels smooth.
A brand new 1.5-litre petrol engine has been added to the range. It delivers up to 148bhp and promises to offer a good mix of economy and power. A 129bhp version is expected to be added to the ranks soon. This one will benefit from a cylinder deactivation system that will shut down the engine so that you can coast when accelerating. It’s designed to save you money.
The rest of the petrol range is made up from familiar faces that won’t disappoint.
The diesel engines are also spirited performers. A 2.0-litre 148bhp unit can do the 0-62mph dash in just 8.6 seconds, but we’re anticipating the 1.6-litre 113bhp TDI to be the most popular, as it’s much more suited to the motorway. It can dust off 0-62 in just over 10 seconds.
The new Golf Hatchback is impressively cheap to run, though the star of the show is the new BlueMotion model. However, the cheapest engine to run is the 1.6-litre 113bhp TDI diesel, which can achieve average returns of 72.4mpg. It costs £20 a year to tax. The 2.0-litre petrol engine, meanwhile, is good for 67.3mpg, which is impressive.
The VW Golf’s interior is one of the best in this class. It’s classy and upmarket, and build quality is good. The driver’s seat offers lots of support, the driving position is high, and the suspension does a good job of ironing out lumps and bumps in the road. Overall, the quality of the plastics used in the Golf is unparalleled in this sector.
This is also a practical car. There is more passenger space than last time, with adults in the back able to stretch their legs more. Three adults should be able to sit in relative comfort in the rear seats, with the only complaint being that a big transmission tunnel will ruin things slightly for whoever sits in the middle.
The boot measures 380-litres, which is considerably smaller than the Skoda’s. However, the Skoda has easily one of the biggest boots in this market, and the Golf’s is competitively size.
Skoda – £15,555 – £19,400
Volkswagen: £17,600 – £27,800
The new SEAT Leon Hatchback is one of the most sought-after family cars on the market at the moment. It’s stylish, handles well, and doesn’t cost much to run.
The SEAT Leon Hatchback has developed a reputation for being fun to drive, and this one just further strengthens that reputation. The suspension setup makes for a comfortable ride, the steering is accurate, the brakes are strong, and the gearbox shifts smoothly.
We prefer the six-speed manual gearbox to the seven-speed automatic as it’s more fun. Moreover, the faster models in the range handle better than the slower ones. It’s as though this car was designed for speed. It’s certainly a much livelier affair than the Skoda.
However, if you opt for a slower engine like the 1.6-litre diesel, you won’t get the best out of this car. It’s super cheap to run, but it isn’t going to offer you the thrills that sets the Leon apart from the Rapid. If running costs are a priority of yours, its returns of over 70mpg are the best in the Leon’s range, though they can’t match the best figures achieved by the Rapid.
To get the absolute best out of this car, you’d have to go for the stonking 1.8-litre petrol engine. It almost launches the Leon into hot hatch territory, and can do the 0-62mph sprint in 7.5 seconds.
However, if you want to mix sensibility with a bit of excitement, the 1.4-litre 123bhp petrol engine is your best bet. It’s fairly cheap to run too, and can average fuel economy returns of 54.3mpg.
The Leon is an appealing family car, and its appeal is helped by its interior. The suspension is setup so that comfort is assured, and there is plenty of space for four adults. The simple design of the dashboard is easy on the eye, and contributes to the easygoing nature of this hatchback. The controls are easy to find and use, while a touchscreen nicely displays useful information for you when you’re on the move.
Accessing the rear seats is easier than before, thanks to wide opening doors, while SEAT have improved leg and headroom. The boot measures 380-litres, which makes it much smaller than the Rapid’s. It’s the same size as the Golf’s, and is competitive in this class. It’ll be able to cope with your shopping easily, while a number of storage spaces in the cabin will accommodate your bits and bobs.
SEAT – £17,700 – £12,700
Skoda’s are no longer the butt of jokes that they once were, but they’re also no longer quite as affordable. However, the Rapid’s price tag is par for the course in this market and, as ever, with a Skoda, there is plenty of value for money to be had.
This car is versatile, practical and boasts a good selection of engines. The interior can’t match some of its rivals for quality, but practicality is never in doubt. If you need a usable, reliable car to tie in with your budget, the new Skoda Rapid Hatchback is a sensible choice.