2014 Skoda Rapid Spaceback road test review
THE figures don't lie. Australians are gravitating to smaller cars and Skoda has a three-pronged attack to entice buyers.
Sitting in the arrivals lounge from the Czech Republic is the Rapid Spaceback, which squeezes in between the Fabia and Octavia.
Starting from $18,990, the new Rapid blurs design cues between hatch and wagon.
It's powered by a choice of two small turbo petrol engines. The price leader has a 77kW powerplant under the bonnet mated to a six-speed manual, while anyone chasing an automatic has to step up to the 90kW engine partnered with a seven-speed DSG from $21,890.
It has a simplistic layout, but typically Skoda - smart in its use of space.
There is a heavy use of plastics across the dash and doors, although it doesn't look cheap and nasty.
The seats are relatively flat although reasonably supportive, and the cloth trim feels pretty hardy.
A chrome strip across the dash breaks up the black colour scheme.
There is an airy feel about the cabin, which four adults would find comfortable. Getting three across the back seat involves some hip rubbing.
Cars of this size are family transport in Europe, and the Rapid rear pew boasts 64mm kneeroom and 980mm headroom.
On the road
Light in the steering, the Rapid still manages to provide enough feel through the wheel and corners flat with confidence.
The 90TSI powerplant is smooth, as is the 77TSI, although neither has the firepower to throw you into the seat back.
Those who opt for the entry level 77TSI need to be more patient when overtaking or shooting out into traffic. We also sampled this donk in the Yeti SUV and the manual is the best option for getting the most from the hard-working 1.2-litre engine.
For drivers who want an automatic few would be disappointed with this seven-speed unit. Gear shifts in the DSG are timely, and kick down without much urging.
On rough, pot-holed roads the lack of compliance is felt with the jitters through the steering wheel, yet for the most part it delivers a trouble-free and smooth ride.
What do you get?
Basic equipment in Ambition spec includes 16-inch alloys, cruise control, Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, multi-function trip computer, air-con, along with height adjustable seating for both front seats.
The Elegance models have 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, climate controlled air-con, automatic lights and wipers, fog lights with cornering function and privacy glass.
Awarded a five-star safety rating, the Rapid has six airbags and safety technology like stability control, tyre pressure monitoring and anti-lock brakes.
There are two optional extra packages available, with Style adding a massive panoramic glass roof, 17-inch black "Ray" alloy wheels, darker tail lights, black mirror caps and a glass extension onto the tailgate. The Sports pack adds xenon headlights, front sports seats, rear parking sensors and cornering fog lights (in Ambition models), stainless steel pedals as well as a black interior decor strip.
The official fuel consumption figures for both engines are about six litres for every 100km and everyday driving should get close to those numbers. Although to maintain that efficiency both powerplants run on premium unleaded.
Most insurers won't penalise drivers for having small capacity turbocharged cars, but it is worth investigating as these are not performance offerings.
Skoda has capped price servicing for six years and a solid warranty which offers sound peace of mind.
Deprecation and resale values are untested on this model, and Skoda is still finding its feet Down Under.
Bottle holders are in each door, catering for up to 1.5 litres in the front and 500ml in the back, while there is a cup holder under the air-con controls up front. A neat little mobile phone slot can sit in the cup holder perfectly positioned below the USB port and auxiliary plug.
There is a gigantic glovebox, the perfect location to keep tablets and other valuables out of sight.
Rear seats fold in a 60-40 split, yet they don't fold flat into the floor. Still, there is 384 litres of boot space which makes easy work of a weekly grocery shop.
As the "Spaceback" name suggests, this is more function over form. While not striking nor ugly, the little Skoda is conspicuous in its design.
Style and Sport packs certainly add some pizzazz, and we liked that combination with a red paint job.
Want a Skoda with stand-out looks, head for the Fabia.
Skoda is working hard in the competitive Australian market.
Sitting under the Volkswagen umbrella, this is the European brand's budget marque. It delivers European appeal and quality without the lavish touches.
The Rapid Spaceback is another sound offering from Skoda, but whether the pricing is enough to lure buyers away from the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and its Volkswagen Golf 7 sibling remain to be seen.
What matters most
What we liked: Roomy interior, smart storage options, good value option packs.
What we'd like to see: Automatic option on base 77TSI, electric sunroof shade closing.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty, capped price servicing is available for six years. Servicing intervals are 15,000km or annual, with average price for both engines $402.
Model: Skoda Rapid Spaceback.
Details: Two-wheel drive compact hatchback.
Engines: 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 77kW @ 5000rpm and peak torque of 175Nm @ 1550-4100rpm; 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol 90kW @ 5000rpm and 200Nm 1500-4000rpm.
Transmissions: Six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic.
Consumption: 77TSI - 5.4 litres/100km (combined average); 90TSI - 6.0L/100km.
CO2: 77TSI - 125g/km; 90TSI - 139g/km.
Performance: 0-100kmh in 10.2 seconds (m); 90TSI - 9.4 seconds.
Bottom line plus on-roads: Ambition 77TSI (m) $18,990, Ambition 90TSI (a) $21,890, Elegance 90TSI (a) $23,750.
Style Pack - Ambition $2100, Elegance $1800. Sports Pack - Ambition $1600, Elegance $1000. Sports Pack Ambition with Style Pack $1400, Sports Pack Elegance with Style Pack $1000.