What's the used Skoda Rapid hatchback like?
It’s fair to say that Skoda has enjoyed huge and deserved success in the UK over the past few years, with a range of intelligently made and good value products ranging from the likeable Fabia small car through to the spacious Octavia family holdall and up to the humongous Superb executive, and taking in a couple of choice SUVs on the way.
One model that’s perhaps not on people’s radar as much as those others is the Rapid, a five-door hatchback that looks a little like a saloon and appears to be on closer inspection a shrunken version of the Octavia. It actually sits somewhere between a Ford Fiesta and a Ford Focus in size, and is based on the underpinnings of the smaller Fabia.
Engine options start with two versions of a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol, in 94 and 109bhp tune, which were introduced when the Rapid was mildly facelifted in 2017. Prior to the introduction of this engine, you could get a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine in two states of tune: 89 and 108bhp. There was also a 123bhp 1.4 petrol that was only available with an automatic DSG gearbox, and there are also two diesel engines, an 89bhp 1.4 and a 113bhp 1.6.
Surprisingly, the Rapid isn’t over-generously equipped, although there are a number of trim options. Entry-level S trim comes with steel wheels, no Bluetooth or air-con, and your only real luxuries are electrically adjustable door mirrors and electric front windows. SE trim is a little more palatable, with air-con, 15in alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control, rear electric windows, along with a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob. SE L trim gets bigger 16in alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, climate control, a height-adjustable passenger seat, front centre armrest and multi-function steering wheel.
There’s also a Sport trim. This is based on SE trim but mechanically is the same, just with different looks, thanks to black 17in alloy wheels, black door mirrors, front fog lights, a rear spoiler, privacy glass and sports seats. On all trims you had to pay extra for a DAB radio and sat-nav, so it’s worth checking that your used Rapid has had these useful options added.
On the road the Rapid isn’t quite as successful a package as some of the other Skodas. The 1.0-litre engines are great, though, with enough willing performance to push the Rapid along swiftly while providing good economy at the pumps. The earlier 1.2 petrol engines were likewise strong and pleasant, but the diesel-engined options, while punchy and efficient, are noisy.
Approach a corner at speed and you’ll soon find out its handling is pretty average, and its poorly weighted steering robs the driver of confidence. It grips well, though, although it’s certainly not as much fun to drive as some of its rivals, or even the Fabia and the Octavia within its own family. It doesn’t ride very well, either, with plenty of fidgets over ripples and potholes and other irregularities. On top of that it’s not terribly refined, with plenty of road and wind noise on motorways.
Inside is an interior of unyieldingly hard plastics. The driving position is reasonable, though, and the dashboard layout is simple and logical. It does much better when it comes to space, however, with plenty of room up front and a commodius rear that will happily seat two tall rear seat passengers behind two tall front seat ones. The boot is huge, too, although there is a step in the loadbay with the rear seats down. You can’t argue with the space on offer, though.