What's the used Skoda Rapid Spaceback hatchback like?
On the face of it, the Skoda Rapid Spaceback is quite hard to explain. It’s a five-door hatchback that looks like a small estate car, yet it has a smaller boot than the Rapid saloon from which it is derived. However, when you look at the gap it fills in the Skoda range between the Fabia and Octavia, it starts to make more sense.
You see, because the Octavia is so much larger in size than the Fabia, there’s room for another, slightly smaller Skoda to cater for buyers looking at a more traditionally sized family car such as the Nissan Pulsar, Vauxhall Astra or Hyundai i30.
The majority of the Rapid Spaceback range is powered by petrol engines in either 1.2 TSI four-cylinder guise (with 86 or 104bhp), a 122bhp 1.4 TSI that comes with a DSG automatic gearbox, or an ultra-frugal 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit in the facelifted Spaceback with either 94 or 109bhp. There are also two diesels: an 86bhp 1.4 or a 105bhp 1.6 TDI that was upgraded to 113bhp after the mid-life refresh.
Space is something the Spaceback does well at. Apart from the curious loss of cargo room during the conversion from a saloon to a small estate, the boot is at least a useable, square shape and is bigger than you’ll find in rivals such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. The rear seats can be folded down (albeit not completely flat) to accommodate larger loads, although there is a noticeable step unless the car is fitted with the optional dual-height boot floor.
To drive, the Rapid Spaceback is easy: the clutch is nice and light and so is the steering – a real boon for parking. Ride quality, sadly, isn’t so good. It can be quite floaty at higher speeds, but when it encounters a pothole you feel an unpleasant and sometimes jarring thud coming through into the interior. It also fidgets over rougher surfaces. Rivals – in particular the Vauxhall Astra – have a much calmer and more controlled ride.
What used Skoda Rapid Spaceback hatchback will I get for my budget?
Thanks to steep depreciation, you can now pick up an early Rapid Spaceback for just £5000. It’ll be a 1.6-litre diesel with around 100,000 miles on the clock, though, so you might want to spend around £7000 for something with less than half the mileage, in well-equipped SE or SE Tech spec with a 1.2 TSI petrol engine. Those who want an automatic will need to spend about £8000, because there aren’t huge numbers of them available on the used market. If you want a facelifted car with the 1.0 TSI turbo petrol engine, you’ll need to increase your budget to £11,500.
How much does it cost to run a Skoda Rapid Spaceback hatchback?
Thanks to a decent range of fuel-sipping engines, the Rapid Spaceback is a pretty inexpensive car to run.
The diesel engines are the economy champions, with the promise of a 64.2mpg official (NEDC) average from both the 1.4 and 1.6 TDI and £30 road tax. Greenline versions have altered gearing and other fuel-saving tech to increase average economy to 74.3mpg and sneak the Rapid Spaceback into the free road tax band.
Petrol versions aren’t quite as economical, but they’re not far too far behind. The black sheep is the 1.4 TSI due to its automatic gearbox, but an average of 48.7mpg and £140 road tax shouldn’t bankrupt you. Of the two 1.2 TSI engines on offer, the 86bhp version is the more efficient choice, with 55.4mpg and £30 road tax, while the 103bhp version is rated at 52.3mpg and £120 road tax.
The facelift in 2017 brought engine revisions to the 1.4 and 1.6 TDI engines to increase their efficiency, while the new 1.0 TSI replaced all previous petrol engines. The 94bhp 1.0 TSI is particularly noteworthy, because it returns 62.8mpg on average. However, the majority of these engines were introduced after the new road tax policy was implemented in April 2017, so all models after this date will cost you £140 a year to tax.
Skoda servicing tends to be reasonable compared with some of its rivals, but you can take advantage of Skoda’s fixed-price servicing scheme once your Skoda car is over three years old. Prices for all of these jobs are published on Skoda’s website under the owners section.
Which used Skoda Rapid Spaceback hatchback should I buy?
Of the wide variety of engines on offer, we’d choose the 1.2 TSI, because it’s nice and smooth, has decent fuel economy and suits those who don’t cover big miles. The diesels tend to be a little gruff and the 1.0-litre turbo petrol is only available in later, facelifted cars that cost significantly more.
SE Tech gets you all the basics you’ll need and adds sat-nav, rear parking sensors, front and rear electric windows and climate control for similar money to an SE version.
Our favourite Skoda Rapid Spaceback: 1.2 TSI SE Tech
What alternatives should I consider to a used Skoda Rapid Spaceback hatchback?
If you want plenty of autonomous safety tech on your next car, have a look at the Nissan Pulsar. Most models come with some form of emergency braking, which helps to lower insurance costs.
Thanks to the sheer ubiquity of the Vauxhall Astra, you'll easily find a well-specified version for similar money to the Rapid Spaceback. It rides well and provides predictable if slightly dull handling.
For those who like the idea of having some manufacturer warranty left on their used car, the Hyundai i30 is worth a look. It’s well equipped and has a pleasantly finished interior.