Review

Skoda Rapid hatchback

Price  £14,580 - £19,390

Skoda Rapid hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Very practical
  • Exceptional value for money
  • Impressively low running costs
Cons
  • Competitors are more comfortable
  • Rivals are more fun to drive
  • Uninspired design

At a glance

The greenest
1.4 TDI CR 90PS SE L 5dr £18,230
The cheapest
1.2 TSI 90PS SE 5dr £15,555
The fastest
1.4 TSI 125PS DSG SE 5dr £17,890
Top of the range
1.4 TDI CR 90PS SE L DSG 5dr £19,390

“It may not offer the last word in excitement, but the Skoda Rapid is a sensible, affordable and practical hatchback.”

While it's not as fast or thrilling as its name suggests, the Skoda Rapid is a practical, well made and affordable hatchback. It's not as good to drive as the Ford Focus, nor does it come with the excellent warranty of a Hyundai i30, but the Rapid has a bigger boot than either of these cars and offers excellent value for money, too.

Inside, it's a similar story: front and back-seat passengers all get good legroom and the Rapid feels well put together, with functional and easy-to-use controls. Those sensible credentials extend to the styling and driving experience, though – areas in which the Rapid can be said to be somewhat dull. But if you’re after a practical hatchback and are happy to choose a car with your head rather than your heart, the Rapid makes a good case for itself.

Skoda offers the Rapid with an excellent and economical range of petrol and diesel engines, while all versions – from the entry-level S through to the SE, Sport and SE L models – are well equipped. While the Rapid is a great family hatchback, the larger and better appointed Skoda Octavia isn’t much more expensive, and this has proven to be far more popular than the Rapid.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.6 / 5

The Rapid has a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines

Skoda Rapid buyers will find their cars reassuringly affordable to run, as all engines available offer excellent fuel economy, low CO2 emissions and reasonable insurance costs. Most economical is the 1.4-litre diesel, which returns an impressive 78.5mpg and is road-tax-exempt. The 1.6-litre diesel manages 67.3mpg, while its low CO2 emissions mean it won’t cost a penny in road tax, either.

If you mainly do short trips or don’t cover a lot of miles annually, there’s a 1.2-litre petrol engine, available with either 89 or 108bhp, as well as a 1.4-litre – although this can only be ordered with an automatic gearbox. Both the 1.2-litres offer good fuel economy, with the less powerful version returning 60.1mpg and the 108bhp model managing 57.6mpg. They also both emit relatively little CO2, incurring just £20 a year in road tax. The 1.4-litre engine is slightly less efficient, but its 58.9mpg and £30 annual road-tax bill shouldn’t break the bank.

Engines, drive & performance

3 / 5

The Rapid is easy to drive, but it’s not particularly fun

The best engines are the more powerful 108bhp 1.2-litre petrol and the 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel, as these offer plenty of performance for everyday driving yet aren’t too expensive to buy or run. If you want an automatic Rapid, this option is only available with the 1.4-litre petrol and diesel engines.

The Rapid is a particularly easy car to live with. The steering is light – but not too light – while all the controls, from the indicators to the air-con, work intuitively and with a reassuring sense of solidity. In terms of driving experience, the Rapid is slightly disappointing. It’ll get you from A to B safely and in relative comfort, but don’t expect to enjoy it too much. There’s nothing wrong with the way the car drives (although a Volkswagen Golf has more comfortable suspension), but it’s pretty unexciting – a Ford Focus is significantly more involving and enjoyable on the road.

Interior & comfort

3.2 / 5

The Rapid makes a good motorway cruiser, but other cars will insulate you from potholes more

The Rapid’s suspension is, like many other aspects of the car, pretty good. Most imperfections in the road surface are nicely ironed out, but larger potholes do cause jarring thuds inside. This is even more the case if you choose the Rapid Sport, as its 17-inch alloy wheels make the problem worse. The Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf both have better suspension – although they’re more expensive cars than the Rapid.

Once on the motorway, things settle down nicely. The Rapid does a good job of keeping wind and road noise at bay and feels securely planted on the road. As a long-distance cruiser, the Rapid makes an excellent case for itself – particularly considering its relatively low cost.

Practicality & boot space

4.4 / 5

The Rapid’s huge boot beats its rivals

In terms of sheer practicality, the Rapid trumps the competition. Its 550-litre boot capacity is significantly bigger than the Focus’ and Golf’s, which hold 363 and 380 litres respectively. The Rapid’s boot is also very well shaped, with a large load area thanks to its hatchback design. In a further nod to practicality, the boot floor is reversible, with carpet on one side and an easy-clean rubber surface on the other – perfect for wet dogs or trips to the dump.

Passengers are almost as well taken care of thanks to the Rapid’s roomy interior – although the sloping roofline means taller adults may find the rear a little squashed. Interior storage is provided by a good-sized glovebox and door bins, while the central cup-holders are useful, if slightly awkward to access. Getting comfortable in the Rapid is easy, thanks to a height-adjustable driver’s seat and the fact that the steering wheel moves up and down as well as in and out.

Reliability & safety

3.7 / 5

The Rapid has excellent reliability and safety ratings

The Rapid did well in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, coming an impressive 25th out of 200 cars. Rapid owners praise their cars’ reliability, practicality and low running costs, while ride quality and seat comfort were the only areas of slight dissatisfaction. Skoda as a brand did even better, with a third-place finish putting it amongst the most reliable and trusted manufacturers out there.

Because it shares a lot of its components and underpinnings with VWs, the Rapid is built from tried and tested materials. The doors shut with a reassuring ‘thunk’ and all the controls feel well put together, operating with a solid click.

In terms of safety, a full five-star rating in the Rapid’s Euro NCAP crash tests should provide all the reassurance you need. Skoda fits driver, passenger, head and side airbags, plus electronic stability control, ISOFIX child-seat anchor points and anti-lock brakes as standard to all Rapids.

Price, value for money & options

4 / 5

When compared to its rivals, the Rapid seems well-equipped and offers good value

While it may not be a very exciting car, Skoda Rapid customers definitely get value for money, as the low starting price hasn’t been achieved by skimping on equipment. The entry-level S model isn’t brimming with bells and whistles, but electric mirrors and front windows, together with air-conditioning and a height-adjustable driver’s seat mean it doesn’t feel spartan, either.

If you want more equipment, the Rapid Sport is well worth considering. For around £1,000 more than the standard S, the Sport has 17-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, red-stitched sports seats and a leather steering wheel – although check that you’re happy with the way those larger wheels deal with potholes, as we found they caused larger imperfections in the road to become more pronounced.

What the others say

3.9 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
With the Rapid, Skoda has created a car that appeals to the heads of family car buyers everywhere. It's practical, clever, efficient and easy to drive, but is missing the kind of emotional attraction that will make people really want this car. Nevertheless, there are lots of people out there who will need a car like the Rapid, and for them there really is nothing better on the road.
4 / 5
Our brief experience of the car has shown is that it has real potential. It's a spacious and practical car that's also a fine vehicle to drive; and, at a time when value-for-money is a top priority for most, the Rapid is sure to tempt Focus and Golf buyers. It will even tempt those who are turning towards so-called 'budget' brands such as Kia and Hyundai. 
3 / 5
The new Skoda Rapid feels like it was built to a strict budget but should suit the growing number of drivers seeking an unpretentious, functional vehicle.
4.5 / 5
Fuel-efficient engines, saloon looks with hatchback practicality, largest boot in sector. Sport mouldings needed to brighten the exterior are costly optional extras.  
Last updated 
23 Mar 2016
Own this car? Leave your review.