Skoda Rapid 1.4 TSI 2014 review

Skoda Rapid 1.4 TSI 2014 review

DSC_0065 One of my first press drives more than a decade ago was a first generation Skoda Octavia hatchback and I was impressed by the overall quality of the car, as much as the generous space it offered, not to mention the competitive price tag for a European car.

DSC_0062Fast forward to 2014 and the third generation Octavia (of which we have driven the VRS diesel wagon and Elegance TSI liftback, and those reviews will follow shortly) has grown into a spacious mid-size lift back and station wagon, leaving room for another Skoda model to sit in the space between in and the compact Fabia hatch.

Enter stage left the new Skoda Rapid in two relatively conservatively designed body styles, which the brand refers to as the Rapid Liftback and the Rapid Spaceback,  of which we have pictured here.

And the major difference between the two variants? That would be the amount of boot space, and its pretty phenomenal in one and pretty good in the other.

The Rapid Liftback, offers 530 litres of boot capacity with photo-1the seats up and 1470 litres of capacity with the rear seats folded. To give you a comparison the current VF Commodore sedan has a boot capacity of 496 litres, and its in a category two sizes larger than the Rapid!

The more compact Rapid Spaceback (which is 18cm shorter than the Liftback) offers 384 litres of boot capacity with the rear seats in situ, and 1349 litres with the rear seats folded.

As you can see from our photographs the Rapid Spaceback easily swallowed two Delsey wheeled suitcases and I’m quietly confident that this model would easily accommodate four people and their luggage for a weekend road trip and possibly longer.

Rear cabin space is generous in the Liftback and Spaceback. Both offer spacious legroom (640mm) and headroom (980mm), which is on par with far larger vehicles. The monochromatic interior exudes the quality you would expect from a car with a much larger price tags while the seats are comfortable and easily adjusted for drivers of all shapes and sizes.

Having a steering wheel that can also be adjusted for reach and rake is good thing too.

Specification is also pretty remarkable for a sub-30 grand Corolla-class car. Theres a few minor differences between the Ambition grade Liftback and the Ambition grade DSC_0053Spaceback, such as the Blues radio package with six speakers in the Liftback while the Spaceback has the Swing radio package with six speakers.

One unusual difference was rear park distance control, it was standard on the Spaceback but an optional extra on the Liftback.

Both however come with 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, Bluetooth telephony with voice control, multifunction steering wheels, air conditioning, tyre pressure monitoring, daytime running lights, boot package, and electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors.

On the road there isn’t a great deal of difference between the two Rapid variants in terms of noise, vibration, harshness or performance. They are both quiet and composed in both the urban environment and also out on the open road.

The 90kW direct injection turbocharged 1.4-litre engine is allied to a seven-speed DSG dual clutch transmission with normal and sport modes and it provides sparkling performance and good fuel economy (5.8l/100km), provided that you are not in the habit of exploring the dynamics of the Rapid’s chassis too often.

DSC_0052This turbocharged petrol engine has wonderfully eager nature and loves to be revved along, which matches the chassis that also allows you to throw the Rapid confidently around a set of tight corners without disturbing the composure of other occupants.

On a Skoda press launch last year, I shared a Rapid liftback with former Skoda rally driver Haydon Padden, and we were both left impressed at the cars ability to keep up with the more powerful Octavia and Superb models on a winding drive route from Auckland to Raglan.

The modern Rapid it seems certainly lives up to its nameplate. Its come a long way from the rear-engine Rapid Coupe of the 1980s, which was known as the poor mans Porsche 911 because of its wayward behaviour. How things have changed in more than 30 years.

I’d also like to point out to those few diehards out there who still can’t get their head around the Skoda brand, that the company is now a truly global manufacturer with seven car lines.

A member of the Volkswagen Group since 1991, Skoda independently manufactures and develops those vehicle DSC_0046lines, as well as components, engines and transmissions. It has three manufacturing locations in the Czech Republic, and it also produces vehicles in China, Russia, Slovakia and India mainly through Group partnerships, as well as in Ukraine and Kazakhstan through local partners.

More than 25,000 people are employed by Skoda around the globe and it is represented in more than 100 markets.

All New Zealand bound cars come from the factories in Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic.

Skoda is quite clear about its intentions for the Rapid – it says the car is especially aimed at fleet customers and families looking for a roomy first car at an affordable price, and certainly on face value and looking through the specification you’d have to agree they have a competitive offer.

The Rapid range starts at $29,700 for the Ambition grade 90kW1.4-litre turbocharged petrol TSI Spaceback and the same specification in the Liftback will cost $200 more at $29,900.

Moving up to the Ambition grade 66kW 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine with a seven-speed DSG dual clutch transmission will cost $31,300 for the Rapid Spaceback and $31,500 for the Rapid Liftback.

Both the Rapid Liftback and Spaceback offer a number of options including an enhancement pack or sports package, or style package, but to be fair I felt that was defeating the purpose of buying an already pretty decently specified car.

Sticking with the standard specification car would be my preference because its a great little fun to drive car with lots of charm and performance at a value for money price which few others in this segment can match. Take that diehards.

Price: $29,700

Pros

  • Great value
  • Fun to drive package thats also economical

Cons

  • Parking sensors optional in Liftback
  • Conservative styling not to all tastes

Words and photos:

 

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