A fresh looking family hatchback that masquerades as a more sophisticated saloon.
That’ll be the cleverly designed Skoda Rapid because when looking at the side profile you could be mistaken for thinking it’s a saloon but open the boot lid and it’s most definitely a hatch; with a massive amount of space too.
The 1.6TDi model travels to 60mph from standstill in 10 seconds; living up to its name.
During my time with this vehicle I have discovered that it shares something in common with my ageing fifth generation Ford Fiesta. Its friendly face created by the headlamps and large mouth-like grille. I only realise this as another Rapid heads towards me as I sit in a traffic jam. It’s what the designers at Skoda call clean crisp lines. And to think that Ford was doing this back in 2002. It’s made me look at my little Fiesta in a whole new light.
The Skoda is well-built and reliable. There’s a satisfying clunk to the doors and it’s comfortable.
Now that there are three children in the Saunders family it is necessary to have three cumbersome child seats in the rear. These just about fit in our little and old Ford Fiesta. As the Rapid is wider I was expecting there to be more space in between our tiny occupants but surprisingly this does not seem to be the case.
What the Rapid might lack in external design it makes up for inside by what Skoda refers to as Simply Clever features to make life easier. These include the ticket holder at the A-pillar and the ice scraper in the fuel cap, which doubles up as a magnifier. It has cornering front fog lights.
It becomes clear that over a long journey the seats are not that comfortable for my wife, although the driver’s seat seems fine. At 70 mph there is also a noticeable drone to the diesel unit from inside the cabin. The cruise control function is on the same stalk as the indicators on the left hand side of the steering wheel. On occasions indicators end up flashing when the cruise control has been pushed too forcefully. And on a long journey constant operating of this cruise control can result in a numb index finger due to turning it on and off. On a sunny day the dashboard reflects on the windscreen which is off-putting.
Depending on speed the Rapid returns anywhere from 30mpg to more than double that amount helped by its automatics stop/start.
Put your foot down in second gear and there is some real oomph and do this on a sunny day with the windows down and quiet children in the back while the stereo blasts out Road to Hell by Chris Rea and life really is good.
Something else that is pleasing is the amount of light in the car, which helps make for a happy driver and passengers.
Facts at a glance
Engine: 1.6 TDI
Gearbox: 5 speed manual
Top speed: 125mph
Watch the video at www.testdrives.biz
By Tim Saunders