"The Rapid shines because of its practicality and incredible value for money."
The Skoda Rapid is a hatchback model with a huge boot designed to take on the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus. It's a value car, so the interior quality and comfort aren’t entirely up to the standards offered in more expensive rivals, however, it has scored a full five stars for crash safety from Euro NCAP. Considering the entry price tag of £12,900, there really isn’t much else in this class that feels as well-rounded as the Rapid. It may not be the most exciting car in the world but it's certainly a fantastic family choice.
The 104bhp 1.2 TSI and 1.6 TDI engines are the ones to go for here. They boast just the right amount of power, without ever feeling slow or like they’re struggling. The steering and all other controls are intuitive but, if you’re fond of driving, you may be disappointed by the slightly bland experience. The Rapid feels more like a tool for getting from A to B, rather than something you’d get lots of enjoyment from.
The suspension fitted to the Skoda Rapid manages to soak up the worst of what Britain's roads have to offer – but the deepest potholes will send a jarring thud into the interior. A Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf both feel much more grown up and capable in this area. Travelling at motorway speeds, the Rapid does a good job of keeping wind and road noise out of the cabin, making long motorway slogs surprisingly relaxing.
The Rapid comes as standard with head and side airbags, along with the usual airbags for driver and passenger. It also comes with ABS and ESP, all of which helped it gain the coveted five-star top rating from Euro NCAP for safety. Reliability is unlikely to be a problem either, as all of the Rapid's electrical and mechanical components will have been thoroughly tested. It feels built to last too, with a solid-feeling interior and reassuring ‘clunk’ when you close the doors.
The Skoda Rapid sits in the same class as the Volkswagen Golf but it's by far the most practical model compared with its rivals. With the rear seats in place, it has a 550-litre boot, far outdoing the 350-litre load area in the Golf. The boot floor also has carpet on one side and rubber on the other so you can flip it over if you’re carrying something muddy. The cabin is spacious enough for five adults, but tall adults may have to squeeze into the back seats.
Value for money
The Rapid starts at £12,900 for an entry level S model, rising up to £17,850 for a top-spec Elegance. At that price, and given that even the base model is well stocked with equipment, the Rapid significantly undercuts its rivals on price alone.
Every single engine in the Skoda Rapid line up boasts impressively low running costs. The 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel is capable of 64.4mpg, while emissions of 114g/km mean you won’t have to pay road tax for the first year. Drivers doing high mileage should go for the diesel, but those with a low annual mileage should opt for the cheaper petrol engines. The 1.2 TSI engine is smooth and refined but also manages 55.4mpg and 119g/km.