When one of Skoda’s big selling points for the new Rapid is that the car comes with a see-through ice scraper that also doubles as a magnifying glass, you might think they are struggling to find USPs for it.
But once buyers have been won over by the advantages of being able to look at ice crystals in slightly more detail than previously, they will find other things of note about the new Skoda.
What have you noted about the Skoda Rapid?
For a start, it’s got a massive boot, of 550 litres, by all accounts it should be very cheap at less than £13,000 for the entry level model, it should be generously specced, and cabin space is excellent too, when compared to the current Octavia, or its rivals. Except, what are its rivals?
For the Rapid is sold as car that is bigger than a Fabia, but smaller than the Octavia, yet it’s a foot longer than the outgoing mk6 Golf. Also, and this is an issue specific to the UK market, it looks too much like a saloon (even though it’s a hatch) – and unlike those Americans and southern Europeans, we hate small saloons.
Skoda recognises it has some work to do to explain its out-of-step sizing but once the new Octavia is unveiled next year, it will become clearer, because that car will grow, and so the range will make more sense. Think Escort, Orion, Sierra and Granada and you have Skoda’s sizing plan nailed.
So get your head round that, and what are you left with? Actually, a very solid, sensible car. The firm maintains that its position is to offer value, not fashion, and people will not be running out of their house in their socks and nightgowns desperate to buy the first one, but it’s a car punters will chose after much sober contemplation of all the facts.
What's under the bonnet of the new Skoda Rapid?
The Rapid will come with two 1.2-litre petrol engines (one a new TSI, the other the ageing VW Group boiler) a 121bhp 1.4TSI and a 1.6 diesel, with the upcoming Greenline version offering CO2 emissions around 100g/km. We drove the diesel and the 1.2 TSI (both of which produce 104bhp) and found them adequate, although the petrol was noticeably less nose-heavy. Even with such low power outputs, they could be kept skipping along happily, although drop off-boost below 1500rpm in the diesel at your peril. But both drive reasonably enough without setting your pants on fire, although the ride can be brittle at times – this car is not on the new MQB platform, but an agglomeration of previous VW Group bits.
And on the inside?
Inside, it’s a VW Group bring-and-buy sale, to, with all the materials on the workmanlike side of proletarian. It’s all good, honest stock, though, if not exactly luxurious, and the seating position is comfortable, although that infernal armrest that has block-tackled many a gearchange makes an unwelcome return from ergonomic obscurity.
The Rapid is not an exciting car by any stretch of the imagination, but when all’s said and done it comes down to the numbers. In lower-spec guises, it's usefully cheaper than competitors such as the Kia Cee’d and Hyundai i30, and that should be exactly what that sector of the market wants, ocular ice scraper or not.