27 June 2018

SKODA Rapid 2018 Car Review

When Skoda’s Rapid first arrived here in 2013 it bridged the gap between the smaller Fabia and the Octavia as a spacious, good-value car with a crossover sedan-hatch persona.

Skoda rapid jm3 18
Skoda Rapid
Skoda rapid jm2 18
Skoda Rapid
Skoda rapid jm 18
Skoda Rapid
Skoda rapid jm4 18
Skoda Rapid
Skoda rapid jm5 18
Skoda Rapid

Now it’s had a bit of a facelift and arrived as a Spaceback, aka a liftback hatch, still sitting on the Fabia platform, and still with a budget-conscious build which reveals itself most obviously in a small tendency for the built-to-a-price suspension to crash over bigger lumps and bumps.

But it’s easy to forgive that when you look at what you get for the purchase price – and how much it costs to fill, a result of its relatively light, 1231kg weight (in standard trim, compared to Hyundai’s i30 at 1262kg and Toyota’s Corolla GX auto at 1270kg), and the clever VW powerplant , the 1.4-litre turbo unit in this Sport – there’s also a 1.0-litre for the price conscious, with a considerably plainer trim specification.

What you get here is a smart and sporty-looking exterior – the Sport gets a pack that includes a panoramic sunroof and blinds, 17-inch black alloy wheels instead of the entry model’s 16-inchers, gloss black door mirrors, a darkened rear window with glass extended into the tailgate, and a rear roof spoiler plus the Dynamic package of black piano cabin trim inserts, ‘aluminium design’ foot pedals, dynamic seat trim covers and ‘sports comfort’ front seats.

Inside there’s a plain, well-laid-out if slightly plasticky cabin, with what counts nowadays as a bare-basics features list with six airbags, ABS brakes, stability control, but little else – none of the ‘blind spot warning’ and other safety advances now creeping down most product ranges.

But it does get a five-star safety rating, a flat tyre indicator, light and rain assist with light and rain sensors, cruise control, air con, rear park sensors and a reversing camera, plus steering wheel controls for Bluetooth phone and the radio.

It’s hard to complain at the price, and almost impossible when you factor in a space which will comfortably seat four large adults – the centre rear possie is a little more cramped – plus 415 litres of luggage (or 1381 litres with the back seats down), not to mention Skoda’s typically thoughtful practical touches, like the bag hooks in the boot, the centre backrest which folds down as an armrest and includes a hatch for items like skis extending from the boot, a luggage net and a charging point: there’s also an umbrella tucked under the front seat, an ice scraper come magnifier for tyre inflation isntructions under the fuel flap, and cupholders plus two USB chargers for rear passengers – some recompense for the limited storage spaces up front, with its small armrest cubby and small glovebox.

If you want a few more fancy touches, they are available at a price – keyless entry and a stop start button for $800, cornering fog lights at $495, climate air con at $1500, an additional pair of front parking sensors for $850, and a winter pack with heated front washer nozzles and heated front seats for $850, to name just a few.

As for performance, like many VW family engines this one could be hard to pick from inside, indeed passengers universally figured a bigger engine than the 1.4-litre petrol turbo.

Only when you put it in ‘sport’ and ask for super-sporty behaviour do you realise there may not be as many ponies under the hood as you’d guessed from the car’s everyday demeanour, or while open-road touring. Our test took in an Auckland-Whangarei return trip, during which it loped along apparently effortlessly, and impressively frugally. Then we threw in some hilly round-home holiday-weekend jaunts and a couple of typically stop-start city commutes: our average fuel use came out at 6.3l/100km, compared to the company’s 5.5l/100km claim, with 5.3l/100 when we isolated our last day – taking in some industrial, shopping and residential driving, and some highway, but none of the steep hilly going that went into our tester’s average day.

Our only niggle – especially on that longer cruise – involved the suspension, which was mostly capable enough, but tended to hit big bumps with an almost solid ‘bang’ and very little compliance, really the only hint that this car is priced to please.

That’s unlikely to bother those for whom their vehilce is an affordable family runabout, used primarily for as a work commuter, for school runs or shopping trips.

Overall this Rapid performs in engine and handling terms as you might expect for the money, which may bother the stereotypical ‘keen driver’ but not the average owner simply seeking no-fuss transport. Yet in this Sport spec it looks a cut above, and it’s certainly a practical proposition for those seeking a new compact car on a relative budget, and also considering the basic Corolla or its equivalent.

At a glance


Skoda Rapid Sport


1.4-litre petrol turbo



ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

 92kW at 5000-6000rpm, 200Nm at 1400-4000rpm


Seven-speed DSG

Fuel economy

5.5 l/100km

Towing capacity



Front-wheel drive

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

415/1381 litres

Safety systems

Six airbags

Isofix and child seat tether points

Flat tyre indicator

Daylight and rain sensors

Rear park sensors, reverse camera


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