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Skoda Rapid review

Skoda Rapide review 2012
Bare-faced badge engineering at Volkswagen Group

For – lots of room
Against – looks too much like the SEAT clone; interior materials not up to other Skodas  

The SEAT Mii/Skoda Citigo/VW Up city cars are virtually identical and now the Skoda Rapid /SEAT Toledo are hard to tell apart. They are even built in the same VW-owned Skoda factory in the Czech Republic. (VW owns the Skoda and SEAT brands). Observers would be forgiven for thinking that the new Rapid and Toledo are also clones of the Volkswagen Jetta which really does look the same but is, in fact, a little bit bigger.

The Rapid was made for less developed markets like Southern and Eastern Europe, Russia, India and China where it is already on sale. The new Rapid is certainly something of a Tardis and actually has more rear leg room than the larger Skoda Octavia. The boot is amazing, with more capacity than a BMW 7 Series. Despite looking like a traditional saloon the Rapid is a hatchback.

Skoda Rapide review 2012Since Volkswagen’s purchase of the Czech brand, Skoda interiors have improved, built with materials that would not be out of place in an Audi or BMW. Strip the badges from the big Superb or even an Octavia for that matter, and you could easily be in a premium product. It has been suggested that as the VW Group’s ‘budget’ brand, the cars were too well finished and the Rapid has certainly lost a lot of that premium feel with hard plastics for the dashboard and door panels rather than the more luxurious mouldings previously used. While the materials might have been downgraded, the build quality is as good as ever and despite testing the cars on some typically pot-holed British roads, there was no sign of creaks or rattles.

The interior materials are not out of place in a car as big as this which starts at £12,950, but Octavia drivers downsizing will notice the difference. Also whereas Skoda’s perceived quality used to be above average in all the segments in which it operated, it is now only average with the Rapid.

The most powerful engine is only 122 PS
At launch there will be a eight versions with five engines of which four are petrol: 1.2 litre 75, 86 and 105 PS and 1.4 litre 122 PS. The diesel is the familiar 1.6 litre105 PS. Five speed manual gearboxes are fitted to the 75 and 86 PS engines, six-speed manual to the both petrol and diesel 105 PS engines, and a double clutch DSG auto box on the 1.4 122 PS engine.

Skoda Rapide review 2012There are three trim levels;  the ‘S’ which is only available with 75 (£12,900) or 86 PS petrol engine (£13,700) comes with steel wheels, six airbags, remote central locking, anti-misfuel inserts, height adjustable driver’s seat, front electric windows, fully adjustable steering wheel and radio/CD with MPS facility and four speakers. Critically, there is no air conditioning and it does not appear to be available even as an option.

The SE is available with 86 (£14,650), 105 (£15,350)and 122 PS (£17,135) petrol engines and the 105 PS diesel (£17,100) and also offers alloy wheels, tinted glass, trip computer, six loudspeakers, electric door mirrors, Bluetooth hands-free phone connection and leather trimmed steering wheel.

The Elegance, which surprisingly only comes with the 105 PS petrol (£16,100) or diesel engine (£17,850) meaning no automatic or higher performance option, does come with some extra gadgets; cruise control, all-electric windows, multi-function steering wheel, floor mats and central arm rest.

I don’t know if the word “rapid” has a different connotation in Czech but in an English-speaking world it seems a shame that the name wasn’t used for one of Skoda’s excellent performance versions.

There doesn’t seem to be any prospect of a higher performance engine, but it seems a shame as the Rapid’s chassis could handle a lot more power, thanks to its high rigidity, excellent steering and reassuring brakes.
Skoda Rapide review 2012

  The Skoda Rapid 1.6 TDI 105 SE
Engine: 1.6 litre 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Power: 105 PS@ 4,400 rpm
Torque: 184 lbs/ft / 250 Nm @350 Nm @ 1,500-2,500 rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
Drive: front-wheels
Acceleration: 0-62 mph 10.6 seconds
Top Speed: 118mph / 190 kph
Fuel Consumption: claimed combined -64.2 mpg
CO2: 114 g/km
Emissions class: Euro 5
Length: 4,483 mm
Width: 1,706 mm
Height: 1,461 mm
Weight: 1,179 kg / 2,594 lb
Wheel-base: 2,602 mm
Suspension: Aluminium front and 5-link rear
Boot capacity: 550 – 1,490 litres
Competition: Kia Sportage, Hyundai ix35, Ford Kuga
Price: £17,100
For: Lots of room for a car in this segment
Against: Looks like the SEAT. Most powerful engine just 122 PS

©Robert Couldwell
For publication on Wintons World

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