Due in Australia in the first half of 2013, the Rapid combines compact exterior dimensions with a spacious cabin and a range of fuel-efficient petrol and diesel engines.
At 4483mm long, 1706mm wide, 1461mm tall and riding on a 2602mm wheelbase, the Skoda Rapid fills the hole between the city-sized Fabia and the medium Octavia. Skoda says the Rapid's 550-litre boot – which is 54 litres larger than that of a Holden Commodore sedan – is the most accommodating in its class, while rear head and knee room are also unmatched.
Following its official public debut at the 2012 Paris motor show in September, the Skoda Rapid will launch in Europe in October with four petrol engines and one diesel, with a second, more frugal diesel to join the line-up in 2013.
The petrol line-up includes a 55kW/112Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder, two tunes of a turbocharged 1.2-litre four-cylinder (63kW/160Nm and 77kW/175Nm), and a 90kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbo. Acceleration times from 0-100km/h range from 9.5-13.9 seconds, while fuel consumption is rated at 4.9-6.1 litres per 100km.
The 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engine comes in two tunes: one with 66kW/230Nm the other with 77kW/250Nm. Combined cycle fuel consumption is a hybrid-rivalling 3.9-4.4L/100km, while the 77TDI version sprints from 0-100km/h in 10.6 seconds.
Power is delivered to the front wheels via five- and six-speed manual transmissions and a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic.
To be built at Skoda’s main plant in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic, the Rapid is the first production car to feature the new design language, which the brand says is defined by four key characteristics: clear, precise, fresh and emotional.
Specifications will vary depending on the market, with Australian details to be revealed closer to the car’s local launch. The European model lists climate control, cruise control, satellite navigation, digital radio and rear parking sensors among its available features.
Standard safety includes six airbags (dual front, side and curtains) and electronic stability control.
Skoda CEO Winfried Vahland describes the Rapid as a “central pillar” of the brand’s growth strategy, and in the official press release it is referred to as the “largest model in [the] company’s history”.
Slotting between the $18,990 Fabia and the $24,990 Octavia, the Skoda Rapid will start in the low-$20,000s when it launches in Australia next year, going head to head with the likes of the Holden Cruze, Honda Civic, Mazda3 and other small sedans.