The Rapid offers a sound driving position. There’s plenty of range to the reach and height adjustable steering wheel, and a driver’s seat height adjuster as well. There is some yang to that positive yin, though: the seat recline is operated by a lever rather than the more usual rotary dial, offering a more limited range of angles to choose from, and lumbar adjustment isn’t available. That said, even without it the seat offers decent lower-back support, but its side support is poor leaving you clinging on to the steering wheel in fast corners.
The layout works well: everything from the well-aligned pedals that leave you sitting in a natural gait, to the logical dashboard layout complete with its large, clear buttons. Visibility forwards is good, and while the view rearwards is restricted by thicker rear pillars, parking sensors are available as an option on our favoured SE trim.
All versions come with a 6.5in touchscreen infotainment system. This isn’t one of Skoda’s laudable, latest-generation infotainment systems used in models such as the Octavia. Instead the relatively small, low-resolution screen feels someway behind the Octavia’s and those offered in the Astra and Focus as well. At least the menus are straightforward to work through and it’s reasonably responsive to commands. On the entry-level S trim you don’t even get Bluetooth that is standard on all the other trims, yet on those you still have to pay a DAB radio and sat-nav. Other options include smartphone mirroring that allows you to connect your phone using Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or Mirror Link.
We don’t think much of the Focus’s perceived interior quality, but at least in the Ford you get some soft-touch materials on the upper surfaces. Not so in the Rapid. Bar the seats and carpets it’s a sea of hard, unyielding plastics, although everything does feel built to last. At this price an Astra looks and feels smarter inside.