Skoda Rapid Spaceback hatchback (2013-2019)
"The Skoda Rapid Spaceback is the trendy version of the Rapid, with an elongated roofline but shorter boot. Read on if you're after an affordable and practical family car"
- Excellent engines
- Spacious interior
- Cheap to run
- Dull looks
- Boring to drive
- Not the most comfortable ride
With a shorter tail than the regular Rapid, the Skoda Rapid Spaceback looks more like a conventional hatchback rival to the Vauxhall Astra, Fiat Tipo, SEAT Leon, Kia Cee’d and Hyundai i30. It loses a little boot space in the process, but this is still a practical model, with more space for those sat in the back.
Skoda must have been worried the saloon-like looks of the standard Rapid wouldn’t go down well in hatchback-loving Europe and it’s true that the Rapid Spaceback does have a more pleasing design overall, especially in versions where the rear window extends down into the tailgate in a rather unique way.
A facelift for the 2017 model improved things further, with new bumpers, redesigned wheels and the option of bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, bringing its styling in line with the excellent Skoda Kodiaq SUV. It also sees the arrival of a 1.0-litre petrol engine.
But these are relatively minor changes and the fundamental recipe of space and affordability won’t change, with the Rapid Spaceback undercutting its sibling by a few grand, starting from around £14,000 and offering a range of advanced engines in a solidly built model.
If you expect to cover less than 12,000 miles or so a year, one of the 1.0-litre petrol engines may suit. There are 94 and 108bhp versions, the former returning a claimed 62.8mpg when a manual gearbox is chosen. You can go for a dual-clutch DSG gearbox if you need an automatic, but we found it disappointingly jerky in operation.
Higher-mileage drivers will find much to like about the 1.4 and 1.6-litre diesel engines. The 1.4-litre produces 89bhp and has little trouble pulling heavy loads, even if it doesn't feel especially quick. The 1.6-litre feels far quicker and its 67.3mpg fuel consumption isn't too much of a drop from the 1.4's 70.6mpg – if you can afford it, the upgrade really is worth it.
Take to the road and the Rapid Spaceback is happy to get you around with ease, but isn’t able to offer the same enjoyment as a Ford Focus, SEAT Leon or Renault Megane. Instead it feels secure, safe and comfortable, but can't match the comfort offered by the Volkswagen Golf Estate.
Skoda has an excellent reputation with customers. The brand finished second out of 27 manufacturers covered by our 2017 Driver Power survey, although too few Rapid owners participated for it to be individually represented. There's no doubting the Rapid's safety, though – Euro NCAP awarded it five stars, which took account of its 94% score for adult occupant protection.
It should be mentioned that Euro NCAP test criteria have become stricter since the Rapid was tested and it’s a shame autonomous emergency braking (which Skoda calls Front Assist with city emergency braking) is a £315 option you can only choose on top trim levels.