Skoda Rapid hatchback (2012-2019) - Interior & comfort
The Rapid makes a good motorway cruiser, but other cars will insulate you from potholes more
The generally high standard of the Skoda Rapid’s suspension is in keeping with the rest of the car. It does a generally good job of ironing out imperfections in the road surface, although can’t quite cushion the worst of what Britain’s potholes have to offer. If you choose the Rapid Sport, you’ll find its 17-inch alloy wheels and low-profile tyres work against the car’s ability to deliver a smooth ride.
The Rapid feels happiest once up to speed. The car settles into its stride on the motorway and the ride takes on an unruffled, soothing feel. Occupants are well insulated from wind noise and little tyre roar enters the interior. The Rapid also feels safe and securely planted to the road.
You’ll find a more capable suspension under both the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf – the former providing the sharpest, sportiest drive in the class and the latter being better for overall ride comfort. Both are, however, more expensive than the Rapid. Still, as a long-distance cruiser, the Rapid makes an excellent case for itself – particularly considering its relatively low cost.
Skoda Rapid dashboard
The design of the Rapid’s dashboard holds few surprises if you’re at all familiar with other cars from the Skoda stable. A model of simplicity, only the typeface on the instruments and the badge on the steering wheel define which VW Group brand this dashboard belongs to, and sure enough you’ll find that several minor control switches are common to the Rapid and the Volkswagen Golf, among others.
You may be disappointed if you’re expecting the quality to match that of the Golf, though. There are differences in the materials used in keeping with the lower price of the car: some of the tactile soft-feel finishes of the VW are notably absent in the Rapid, for example. Everything is very well assembled but the use of hard, scratchy plastics means the car feels far from luxurious inside.
Value for money is definitely where the Skoda Rapid plays its trump card – although it’s worth noting that the price-leading entry-level model does without certain things that could be a deal-breaker. While it has remote central locking, electric front windows, power-adjustable heated mirrors and an adjustable steering wheel, there’s no air-conditioning.
Oddly, you can’t even add this to the S as an option, so if you want to stay cool in summer, you’re forced into a Rapid SE, and this is the specification we recommend. To the foundations of the S it adds air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and an improved six-speaker stereo, as well as tinted glass, cruise control and 15-inch alloy wheels.
Further upmarket is the SE L model, increasing the cost by £750 but adding rear parking sensors, two-zone climate control and larger 16-inch wheels. Rear parking sensors are available on the SE at an extra £380 alone, and this may be worth considering if you can live without the other bits.
There’s also a Rapid Sport, which seems to offer good value. Only available with the 108bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine, it costs just slightly more than a similarly engined SE. It comes with all the SE's equipment, as well as 17-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, sports seats and a leather steering wheel – although we urge you to take a test drive to ensure 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.
With the SE as a base, you may be tempted by the rear parking sensors for £380, DAB digital radio (£100) for the extra choice of entertainment and a speed limiter function for the cruise control (£50). Heated front seats together with heated windscreen washers might be handy in the winter and a driver fatigue assistant has often proven its worth to us. For just £50 extra, it’s a no-brainer. There’s also a touchscreen navigation system available for £575.