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Skoda Rapid arrives in 2013

Skoda intends to launch the Rapid in Europe in August - and here mid-2013.

The Rapid is Skoda's first big step in the transformation away from functional - but bland - design. The small car hatch-sedan has crisp lines, spacious cabin and platform and drivetrain components from parent Volkswagen.

Skoda intends to launch the Rapid in Europe in August - and here mid-2013 - priced to challenge like-sized family cars including the Mazda3 and Holden Cruze.

The Rapid hits the global market a few months after the Czech manufacturer released its Citigo light car - a hatch based on the Volkswagen Up and also due in Australia in 2013 - as part of its model overhaul.

A new Octavia is expected in 2014 along with a large SUV. The Rapid, which goes public in September at the Paris motor show, will be driven next month and tested in Europe by Carsguide.

The hatch uses components from the Volkswagen family - especially Polo and Golf - but doesn't have the new MQB platform that will feature on this year's Golf VII.

It sits in size and price between the Fabia and the Octavia in a segment that Skoda says accounts for about 36 per cent of the world's automobile market.

Within this segment, sedans have a share of about 42 per cent but industry analysts estimate mid-size sedan-hatch models will globally rise by about 50 per cent by the year 2020. The expansion will be driven mainly by Asian markets - notably China - that prefers sedan-shaped cars. 

The Rapid is 4.48m long and will be made with five petrol and two diesel engines. Skoda says it's too early to pick drivetrains - and prices - but expect a 77TSI and 90TSI petrols and a 103TDI diesel. The car will also be morphed into a Seat sedan for Spain. Seat is also in the Volkswagen Group.