Another Niche Filled.
Much Thought Given To Load Lugging, Stuff Stowing.
For – practical, unpretentious, rugged.
Against – plain looks, some might still remember old Skodas.
*** out of 5
Skoda has expanded its range again with the Rapid Spaceback, aiming to broaden the Rapid’s appeal to compact family hatchback buyers.
Skoda says its main competitors are the Kia C’eed and Hyundai i30, but I think the quality and style of these two Korean brands have moved onwards and upwards away from this bargain basement area.
The Rapid, following Skoda’s penchant for names that are hostages to fortune like the Superb, fits into the range above the Fabia and below the Octavia.
Given that this is supposedly the cheap end of the market, Skoda likes to point out practical qualities like improved headroom and its 415 litre boot, extendable to 1,380 litres. There are three petrol and two diesel engines to choose from ranging from 85 hp to 120 hp. Skoda claims the GreenLine model will deliver 74.3 mpg economy. Dream on. There is an automatic gearbox option too. You can opt for a panoramic glass roof and extended tailgate glass.
Prices start at £14,340, which strikes me as rather more than a budget car should cost. Every model has at least manual air conditioning, remote central locking, curtain airbags, daytime running lights, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, height-adjustable driver’s seat and electric front windows.
You can choose from four core trim levels: S, SE, Elegance and GreenLine, most of which include additional features over the basic Rapid. The Rapid Spaceback also features a new advanced Column-Electric Power Steering system that is both lighter than a traditional hydraulic system and delivers improved steering feel.
The Spaceback is more of hatchback than the regular Rapid saloon. It looks a bit duller. The boot also contains bag hooks and storage boxes behind the rear wheel arches, and comes with the option of a double-sided boot floor. This allows owners to switch between a carpet or rubber boot floor, according to what they’re carrying. Turn it rubber side up for muddy boots, and flip it back to carpet for suitcases and shopping bags.
Rapid S models are fitted with a SWING 2 DIN radio with CD capable of playing MP3 files, while SE and Elegance models add a mobile device interface for controlling an external MP3 player, and Bluetooth telephone connections.
The Rapid Spaceback also features Hill Hold Control (HHC). This function effectively holds the car on the brakes when performing a hill start, preventing the car from rolling back. HHC will automatically activate for around two seconds when the car is on a slope of more than three per cent. When drive is resumed, the brakes are released.
All Rapid Spaceback models feature a 3 year/60,000mile warranty as standard. Service intervals are variable as standard, with a fixed service schedule also available. Customers wanting even further peace of mind can extend their warranties with optional four- or five-year packages.
Skoda has now emerged from the years of penance earned by its joke status when its cars were built by Czechoslovak political prisoners in the 50s and 60s. There are still some diehards refusing to admit the reality of the modern day high-tech Skoda, just as there are some who won’t be convinced that a new Fiat won’t rust overnight on your driveway, or who insist that Ladas have heated rear windows to keep your hands warm when you push them. The latest Skodas do represent a way of getting your hands on latest Volkswagen (its parent) technology for less money than a VW would cost, although looking at the prices I’m not sure you could call these cars cheap.
(Skoda provided hotel)
|Skoda Rapid Spaceback SE|
|Engine:||1.6 litre 4-cylinder diesel|
|Power:||89 hp @ 4,200|
|Torque:||230 Nm @ 1,500-2,500|
|Acceleration:||0-62-100 km/h 12.1 seconds|
|Top Speed:||113 mpg-182 km/h|
|Fuel Consumption:||claimed combined – 62.8 mpg-4.5 l/km|
|Emissions class:||E.U. 5|
|Warranty:||3 years-60,000 miles|
|Boot capacity:||415 litres/1,380|
|For:||practical, unpretentious, rugged|
|Against:||plain looks, some might still remember old Skodas|