• Class-leading space; huge boot; good engines; good interior plastics quality; decent to drive
  • Bland interior and dated features may turn some off; diesel lacks refinement; not among small car leaders for dynamics

7 / 10

Skoda Rapid Review
Skoda Rapid Review
Skoda Rapid Review
by Damion Smy

The Skoda Rapid is a model that will become the new small car competitor for the Volkswagen Group’s Czech Republic brand.

It will sit between the Citigo micro car and Octavia medium car that is also released in 2013 in new-generation form.

The Skoda Rapid is comparable in size to the Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus but is actually priced – at least in Europe where we tested the car – more in line with the Toyota Yaris or Ford Fiesta.

While it may look like a sedan, the Skoda Rapid is in fact a five-door hatch. Debuting Skoda’s new design language, also to be seen on the next Skoda Octavia, the Rapid is stately and sophisticated with a strong on-road presence.

Compared with the Toyota Corolla, the Skoda Rapid is longer (4483mm against 4275mm), slightly narrower (1706mm versus 1760mm), and rides on a 2mm-longer wheelbase at 2602mm. Despite the similarities in size, the Skoda Rapid is arguably more distinctive.

From the Skoda badge on its sleek nose sitting atop the familiar Skoda grille, sharp creases flow away up the bonnet. Narrow headlamps that help give the Rapid the appearance of width, are joined by a strong beltline down the car’s flanks.

The Rapid’s roofline gives it a sportier profile than a conventional three-box sedan, with the rear hatch bookended by C-shaped tail-lights for a unique look. There are also diagonal pressings on each side of the rear number plate, which show effort you wouldn’t expect in a cut-price model.

Skoda Rapid Review
Skoda Rapid Review
Skoda Rapid Review
Skoda Rapid Review

The interior is huge, especially in the rear. The Skoda Rapid’s class-leading 530-litre boot is accessible via a low loading lip, and the 60/40-split rear seats flatten for a massive 1490L.

The Rapid’s wheelbase is actually longer than the current Skoda Octavia (this will grow however for its upcoming replacement) meaning huge amounts of leg room and, while the sloping roofline limits headroom, still plenty of space for tall passengers.

Up front, a great driving position is easily attainable with the height adjustable driver’s seat, giving a clear view of the typically Skoda dash.

Good-looking hard plastics are joined by decent quality contact points that, while a little uninspiring to look at, present a clean and smart design. There’s a four-spoke steering wheel with chrome highlights that are limited to the top spokes, giving a slightly unfinished look.

The rest of the dash is harder to fault, with chrome again used but in a more subdued and effective manner. It’s not crass or nasty inside, with the feel of the rotary dials for the air-conditioning the only other clue that this is such an affordable car.

While Australian specifications are still to be confirmed, European markets see a three-tier Skoda Rapid range, starting with the entry-level S model that has a chrome grille, daytime running lights, remote central locking, electric front windows, CD/MP3 player, and 15-inch alloy wheels. Standard safety equipment includes driver and passenger airbags, curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control (ESP), and hill start assist.

Skoda Rapid Review
Skoda Rapid Review
Skoda Rapid Review
Skoda Rapid Review

The mid-level Skoda Rapid SE gets colour-coded electric mirrors, leather for the handbrake and steering wheel, as well as an upgraded stereo and Bluetooth connectivity, while the flagship Elegance sports 16-inch alloy wheels – which fill the guards well – electric windows front and rear, cornering fog lamps, and cruise control.

There are five engine choices in Europe for the Skoda Rapid, but the Australian line-up will start with two petrol units: a 77kW 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder mated solely to a six-speed manual transmission, and a 90kW 1.4-litre petrol engine offered only with a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic. A 77kW/250Nm 1.6-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder with a five-speed manual transmission is yet to be confirmed but will likely join the local range later in 2013.

Both petrol engines are smooth and help make the Rapid surprisingly agile, with good throttle response off the mark and when overtaking. The diesel engine, though, while far from refined at idle, improves when things get moving. A little laggy initially, there’s strong low-down pull from 1500rpm where the oiler makes its peak 250Nm of torque, and above this point the Rapid is a solid performer able to sneak into gaps in traffic with good rolling response.

Driving it sedately around town, the five-speed manual’s gearing spoils the drive in the diesel, requiring the swapping of cogs far too often with the second and third ratios geared too far apart. The odd gearing helps the diesel achieve its excellent fuel figures, though, with a combined 4.4L/100km.

Skoda Rapid Review

The petrol engines are better matched to their transmissions and much more lively to drive – the 1.4-litre the fastest to 100km/h in a Skoda-claimed 9.5 seconds while still returning 5.8L/100km. Helping efficiency is the Skoda Rapid’s impressive light weight. While the Rapid feels solid on the road, the heaviest model comes in at 1179kg, vastly lighter than either the 1310kg Toyota Corolla or 1454kg Ford Focus.

The ride is reasonably sound overall, though, little bumps and ruts are felt and larger potholes will upset the Rapid around corners. Despite overly light steering not weighting up at all, the Rapid has good turn-in and is easy to position.

There is a switch to turn off the stability control, but even when disengaged a brutal take-off won’t see much wheelspin or traction loss, as there’s plenty of grip. Body control, too, is surprisingly good considering the Rapid has no sporting connotations, with predictable, controllable roll making it easy to handle and adept at changing directions.

Can a car this affordable really deliver? The Skoda Rapid proves a resounding ‘yes’. It’s a well-made, reasonably well-equipped hatch that’s both super practical and stylish. And while it can’t match the Corolla or Focus for infotainment or passive safety technology, or a Mazda3 or Focus for driving entertainment, it’s one of the best examples of cost-effective motoring on sale.

But only when Skoda Australia reveals pricing will we know how strong a value proposition the Skoda Rapid really is.

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Skoda Rapid Review
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  • Hash


    • Henry Toussaint

       No one cares.

  • http://www.bryanbyrtrenault.com.au/ Modern Man

    there is no way this will be priced the same as the current fiesta if this is where it is priced overseas.
    The fabia is already this and a bit more.
    Why no auto 1.2? Its in the yeti.

    • Zaccy16

      and the polo tsi

  • Nick

    If you click on Specs and prices it says the Rapide is $404,000

    • 3D4

      thats because this is Rapid not Rapide…

    • James

      LOL. Now if only the Aston Martin Rapide could have the Skoda Rapid’s price…

  • 3D4

    First of all it is not sitting between Citigo and Octavia.. (it’s between Fabia and Octavia)

    Second, it isn’t the competitor for mazda3 and focus (current octavia is)

    Third, Rapid should follow hugely succesful Octavia first gen (1996 – 2010) in terms of practicality, reliability and affordability..

    Personaly I don’t like it, would wait for a new Octavia instead.

    • Phil

      The Octavia certainly looks nice, but will have lots of tough competition in its segment.

    • Norm

      You could have put the last line first and saved yourself 10 seconds.

  • Devil666

    Please god will people buy these over Camrys!!!!

    • Angelica

      These aren’t in the same class as the Camry (or 6, Mondeo, Passat, i40, which are all part of the same class as the Camry).

  • Captain Nemo®™

    “Diesel lacks refinement” all VeeDud diesels are unrefined they sound like a bag of bolts in a clothes dryer. should rename it “Crapid”

    • Golfmother

      Looks more modern than the daewoo crude and fitted with class leading diesel , magic interior , looks very refined , no starwars dashes for the VAG group , no doubt quality written all over it , another winner .

      • Phil

        Not according to the review, which says the “diesel lacks refinement” and that it features a “bland interior and dated features”.

        • Cerny Eduard

          Review=>one person’s opinion based on couple of web pictures and overseas specs

          Applies to any brand reviews

          • 4D3

            I’d rather trust the review than Golfmother’s opinion, which is widely known to be biased.

        • Golfmother

          Interior looks usual VAG , no holden type plastics , Diesels are all generic VAG so no different to Seat , VW etc , maybe noisier on the inside as skoda use less sound insulation that VW . 

          • Phil

            No ‘Holden type plastics’? What does that even mean and what has Holden got to do with this article? Regardless, the reviewer even states that there is plenty of hard plastics through and through. Also, noise levels are only one aspect of diesel refinement and the review even describes the diesel as being less well matched to the transmission than the petrol models and “far from refined at idle”, “laggy” and having “odd gearing”. That’s more than just noise insulation issues. The engine may be shared with other VAG models, but the transmission is the diesel models downfall.

          • Zaccy16

            he means that the cruze and every other holden on sale have rubbish interiors

          • twincharger

            Give it up golfmother,no way you can out debate Phil.

          • Phil

            @Zaccy16:disqus But how does that have anything to do with this review? It’s just a cheap stab at Holden and just reflects on how classless and low Golfmother’s behaviour can truly steep.

          • Captain Nemo®™

             Don’t have to be inside Bungle you can be 20mtrs away and you can still hear that bag-o-bolts in a clothes dryer VeeDud diesel.

          • Golfmother

            Yer take a listen to a crude ss it rattles down the road .

        • Norm

          The 1.4 in this light little car will be a great combo.

          Light cars with gutsy motors is always a compelling formula.It’s a very basic little car. Nothing wrong with that. If the price reflects it and you drive a manual then happy days.Wagon?

      • Hung Low

        That dash is straight out of a beige 80’s GH Sigma and what is so class leading about a huge 77kw diesel?

        • Trickster

          It’s called Torque.  Drive any modern day Turbo Diesel and you’ll see

      • Robin_Graves

        Looks very refined against a ’98 Toyota Avalon they stole the grill from.  Toyotas look way more contemporary than these yawnmobiles, cardigan wearers have a new hero car, I hope they come in champagne gold.

    • Trickster

      Depends on which diesel motor in the range you are talking about.  The 2.0 TDi in my Octavia RS sounds nothing like a tractor, but the 1.9 TDi in lower spec Octavia’s are noisy.  In fact the VW 2.0 TDi is way less rattly than the Ford’s 2.0 TDi found in Focus & Mondeo’s and the Merc C200 Diesel

  • Adf

    looks a bit boring and bland. heck even the blandest of bland toyota camry looks more exciting than this

    • Norm


  • Daniel

    I don’t quite understand where this is meant to fit in the model range? It’s basically the same size as the Octavia and it is the same body style, but it’s not replacing it, so it’s in between the Fabia and the Octavia…but that means that the difference between the Rapid and the Octavia will be like the difference between a size 9 and a size 10 shoe. Also, though it does look good, it looks so similar to how the current Octavia looked before it’s facelift. I’m no Skoda basher, but this is a pretty boring and dull looking little car and I simply don’t get the point of it. It’s not even as if it’ll be that cheap. 

    • Hung Low

      The new Octavia will almost be Passat sized, this will sit below it. This should be priced at 18k on road.

      • Daniel

        You can’t even get a Fabia on the road for $18k, so I doubt that. I know Skoda’s intentions are always to be a lower priced Volkswagen, but it never actually happens. And Passat sized maybe, but it will remain a Golf competitor. The Superb is the Passat competitor. Skoda’s sizing and range compared to other brands is a bit confusing, none the less, those are they classes they intend their particular cars to be in. 

        • O123

          New octavia will be  camry sized, rapid is corolla sized

    • 3D4

      Next gen octavia will be simply bigger than current model. That should make enough space for Rapid.

    • F1MotoGP

      It’s smaller than the Octavia – perhaps it’s supposed to replace the Fabia (at least over here) considering it’s not doing too well.

      • Hung Low

        Agree, the Fabio is overpriced and mega fugly, nobody wants the gamble. This should do better than the Fabio, I mean it is not exactly difficult to produce a better looker than the Fabio.

        • Zaccy16

          polo looks much better than the fabia and has a better interior

        • Golfmother

          Or worse still the the barina spark , makes the fabia look stunning .

          • Hung Low

            I shamefully have to agree with you there Bungle.

          • Golfmother

            Salute .

          • Zaccy16

            yep the fabia is a buggati veyron compared to the spark!

          • Huwtm

            Oh, what an easy target. That’s like standing next to a fat person to look skinny.

    • Bunga

       In Europe, the outdated Octavias are sold alongside new Octavias. Those outdated are available only in basic specs and for far less money and sell too well for Škoda to leave this market. Only this time Octavia 2 won’t be sold alongside Octavia 3, and this market will be left to Rapid. Rapid is basically Octavia 1 refurbished to 2012.

      • 3D4

        Exactly right..


    The front looks like the 1994 Toyita Avalon

    The rear looks like an ugly duckling

  • Latin Fish Names

    This looks very clean, bordering on boring (some would say boring).  I don’t mind its understated looks, great fuel economy and massive boot.  The concerns I have are that the petrol engines should be run on 98, you can run them on 95, but only occasionally… this is a pain in the arse.  The other concern is how will this be priced? Currently, VWs are better buying with a known resale.    Still, I think this will be a game changer for Skoda in Australia.

    • Luke

      Agreed, this will perhaps be the first Skoda model to come here, not in the middle of the model’s lifecycle.

  • Aus_poppa

    One would hope that Skoda Australia had learned the lesson – manual diesels are not enough – there have to be autos – people here are not concerned with absolute economy, either of initial price or running costs as they are in Europe where the tax regimes favour low CO2 emissions. Here the economy of an auto diesel is sufficient – and VW itself has proved this by offering lots of diesel autos, and selling heaps.

    Here the contest is apples against apples – auto petrol against auto diesel. Bring a single manual diesel if you want economy bragging rights, but don’t expect to sell more than a handful.

  • Jerry14

    Clap…Clap…Clap. Skoda once again prove that VW interiors can be made to be even more bland and boring.

  • GregR

    Some of us are bland and boring and we like bland and boring cars to compliment our bland and boring clothes and our bland and boring homes. We prefer not to have body adornments, tattoos etc and the less glitz and tat in our homes the better and more comfortable we feel.
    My point is that, thankfully, we are all different and those who prefer ‘shiny’ and ‘showy’ should not perhaps buy european, but stick to cars built in America and certain parts of the east. 
    Oh. and I like this car.

    • Golfmother

      I call it ergonomically sound middle european , it all falls to hand easily , no seaching required , no shiny tinsel to distract your main purpose which is to travel safely .

  • Hung Low

    Been there mate and have driven the RS diesel too, not a bad unit pity about the rubbish dsg behind it. But the claim made here is about the ageing 77kw oiler being class leading.

  • Jerrycan

    The current Golf Mk 4 based Octavia, is a strong but relatively complicated structure to manufacture with a large number of welding points.
    The new Rapid is an updated version using advanced and simplified manufacturing techniques, making it both lighter and stronger and most importantly cheaper.
    I believe the rear suspension is also a simplified torsion bar system, which is cheaper (lighter?) and less intrusive. Reports on ride/handling suggest little change from the excellent but more complex multi-link system.
    Conservative styling, should provide good external visibilty, excellent internal space, reasonable performance and better than average ride/handling.
    The price could be very cheap but is unlikely based on Skoda’s previous Australian pricing policy.
    The only downsides are: premium petrol requirement, questions about DSG reliability.
    A diesel manual Rapid could be the ideal replacement for our existing 5 year old 70k Octavia 1.9d manual wagon which has been faultless except for the replacement of a steering lock under warranty.

    • Golfmother

      Jerry i am pretty sure the current octavia is mk5 based ,hence the complexity , the rapid is a mix of latest polo/fabia , size wise is pretty close to current octavia , new model on the MBQ platform and much bigger .

  • Bent6brigade

    Skoda is really struggling in Australia.This car is well priced but very rough around the edges.

    • Captain Nemo®™

       Exactly well said mate.
      Skoda sales in Sept 409
                               Oct 215
      And the Fabia, Broomster & Yukki are meant to be the game changers in Oz for Skoda.

      • Bent6brigade

        They would go better in the winter months Captain Nemo because of there massive sponsorship of new Afl side GWS.
        There is just to many models of cars for sale in OZ 4 scoda to make inroads,with there dated looks and styling and pricing.
        Let’s give them one big tick they appear to be a lot more reliable than big brother veedud and the gooses that drive them,like crappy+rolfmother.

    • AutoMoto

      I think their cars could definitely be priced a little better.

    • Golfmother

      Bit rough like a crummerdore . rough V6 and rough interior .

      Skoda will advance past crummers with each new model , take a look at the superb , makes a crummer VE feel like the old VH .

      • Bent6brigade

        Rubbish the VE interior is quality,take a look at Caprise.The VE has a great sound system,comfortable seats,heaps of legroom
        Also Australian designed hard plastic that is sun resistant.Not like the cheap plastics used by the fag group.I mean vag group

        • Poison_Eagle

           Don’t bother with this guy. Gets his ass handed to him regularly, disproven all the time and still litters this site with stupidity, lies about cars he’s owned. Must be a little kid or something. 

          • Golfmother

            Norman the toxic budgie , another dino driver gasping for breath as his beloved falcoon heads towards its last rites , soon be over , bring on the FWD .

          • Poison_Eagle

            Whatever you reckon you deluded little weasel.

        • Golfmother

          Craprice is dead in the water , why when you can get a 300C , numbers falling off the edge .

           A must for fat guys i suppose .

  • htcs

    Meh. The difference is that you can’t get the 1.8 turbo in a Rapid. You can in an Octavia – and that car is a pocket rocket. It’s just a plain pity that all VAG cars seem to have the same instrument cluster and poorly executed cruise control. That’s a shame.

  • Kyriacosagathocleous

    What kills this for me is resale and service costs.skoda dealers are charging $500 for an oil and filter service for some of their other cas. Resale figures remind me of saabs. Buy a 2nd hand one and do the minor services your self if you are considering this.

  • Al Tungupon

    Doors seem to have been borrowed from the second gen A4.