We turn the spotlight on the car world's newest and brightest stars as we ask the questions to which you want the answers. But there's only one question that really needs answering would you buy one?
What is it?
This is Skoda’s new small car the fits between Fabia and Octavia. It looks a lot like a Mazda 323 Astina from 2003 crossed with a touch of Audi A3 Sportback from some time ago. Conservative, functional, Euro cred on a small budget because it’s built near Prague in the Czech Republic.
Rapid starts at $18,990 but the mid-spec’ 90TSI Ambition we drove goes for $21,890. A bunch of option packs are available that quickly add to the price. Satnav is not available on any Rapid. Boo hiss.
What are its competitors?
You could factor in all the small cars and there are about 20 of them - Corolla, Lancer, Pulsar, i30, Cerato, Mazda3, Pug 308, Civic etc. It’s at the smaller end of the small car scale though.
What's under the bonnet?
There’s an asthmatic 1.2 four banger and the 1.4 turbo petrol in this and the higher model. It’s out of the VW/Audi/Skoda stable and is used in umpteen models. In this case, there’s 90kW/200Nm output which is plenty to push the diminutive Rapid along with some verve. The gearbox helps - a seven speed DSG dual clutch unit.
How does it go?
Good. Not sporty by any stretch but you won’t be embarrassed and if you give it a shove, the Rapid 90TSI is a lot of fun especially with that seven speed DSG swapping cogs. Smooth, quiet, happy to rev- what more do you want in a small commuter car.
Is it economical?
Yep, 6.0-litres/100km though we saw better than that with predominantly highway driving. But its on 95 at additional cost to the owner.
Is it green?
Yep, not bad on the CO2, not bad during manufacturer testing but not yet rated by the Green Car Guide.
Is it safe?
Is it comfortable?
Yes, takes on our atrocious roads and wins most times. Irons out bumps and the like no problem. The seats are a good shape and firm enough not to become tiring over a long drive. Controls are easy to find and use and the multi-function wheel makes matters even easier for the driver.
What's it like to drive?
We liked it. In fact, we had a sporty 1.2-litre competitor from Renault at the same time and would go the Skoda every time - it’s a better driver’s car and has more kick while using about the same amount of fuel. Feel is helped by excellent steering and an electronic locking differential for more cornering grip. The looks are problematic though.
Is it value for money?
Excellent value here - cruise, a/c, mobile device interface, (small) alloys, Bluetooth audio and phone (sometimes difficult to use), five seats but the packs add a fair whack to your bottom line.
Would we buy one?
Maybe. Not the 77TSI, it’s a slug but the 90’s a treat and cheap.