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Buying European never looked so good at this price point. Skoda’s new Rapid Spaceback small hatch/wagon hits the road this week at a starting price of $18,990 for the entry level 77TSI Ambition manual model.
That’s sharper than the Koreans, and sharper than anything else in the small car class -- particularly when you look at what you get for it.
How do they do it? By leveraging the massive VW manufacturing network and utilising components that have been amortised (paid for) in other models.
Rapid looks a lot like and earlier Audi A3 around the flanks and is actually on a stretched version of the current VW Polo platform.
Made in a new factory outside Prague in the Czech Republic, Rapid has the right Euro cred to put it on the menu for plenty of buyers. Add in a good amount of technology and a pair of plucky turbo petrol four cylinder engines and you have a really appealing, affordable package.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Three models are offered: the previously mentioned 77TSI six-speed manual Ambition, the 90TSI Ambition with seven speed DSG manumatic transmission and the Elegance 90TSi with 7DSG only.
The engines are 1.2-litres and 1.4-litres in capacity respectively with the name reflecting the power output. Torque is 175Nm for the 1.2 and 200Nm for the 1.4 with fuel economy of 5.4L/100km for the smaller engine and 6.0 for the larger. Both need 95 RON fuel.
In addition to Ambition and Elegance models, you can have the standard car, a sport pack or the style pack at extra cost with a panoramic glass roof, blacked out body hardware and other frivolities.
All three versions of Rapid get a five star crash rating and have clever dynamic systems such as an electronic differential lock for added traction through corners.
Steering is electromechanical that offers a more direct link between car and driver than other steering systems.
The base model does alright in terms of standard equipment - cruise, air 16-inch alloys, mobile device interface, multi-function wheel while the Elegance does much better again but none get satnav.
Still, xenon low beam, a mobile device interface numerous storage solutions Bluetooth phone and audio, auto headlights and wipers, rear park sensors, 17-inch alloys and cornering front fog lights make the $23,750 Elegance 90TSi the best buy from a value point of view.
The style pack adds between $1800-$2100 depending on the model while the sport pack adds between $1000 and $1600.
We took the base manual and the Elegance Style 90TSI for a spin and liked both, particularly the 90TSI which has more get-go and seems more planted in corners.
The Rapid isn’t really that rapid but is a handy all-rounder with a practical side thanks to the almost-a-wagon rear design -- reflecting it's DNA as a Skoda version of the Audi Sportback.
The 90TSI has excellent throttle response and a smooth, flexible power delivery aided by the 200Nm torque output and the sweet shifting DSG transmission. It sails over rough roads with ease and hunkers down through tight corners while retaining impressive bump isolation.
We love the electro-mechanical steering and the brakes which are well up for the job in Rapid. Ride quality is good offering a compromise between comfort and control.
But the interior is let down by cheap, hard plastics -- in particular the dash, which looks and feels bad, giving a rat-a-tat-tat when you tap it or touch it.
The Bluetooth phone hook-up can only be synced while stationary ignoring the fact that the passenger isn’t actually driving the car and can carry out many functions.
The audio is good and there’s plenty of room inside for five and a decent load space as well.
The Rapid Spaceback is quite impressive, especially at this price. Would we go a Corolla or a Rapid for less money? That’s a hard question... The Rapid is certainly a better drive and has a certain Euro allure. Perhaps that’s your answer.
Skoda Rapid Spaceback
Price: from $18,990 (77TSI)
Engine: 1.2-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol, 77kW/175Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual; FWD
|Rapid Spaceback Ambition 77 TSI||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$7,150 – 10,010||2014 Skoda Rapid 2014 Rapid Spaceback Ambition 77 TSI Pricing and Specs|
|Rapid Spaceback Ambition 90 TSI||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$9,900 – 13,530||2014 Skoda Rapid 2014 Rapid Spaceback Ambition 90 TSI Pricing and Specs|
|Rapid Spaceback Elegance 90 TSI||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$10,010 – 13,640||2014 Skoda Rapid 2014 Rapid Spaceback Elegance 90 TSI Pricing and Specs|
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