Video review: Skoda Rapid recovery from the bottom of class

Updated Rapid now makes the grade second time around but Octavia still the smarter buy

The updated Rapid now makes the grade second time around but is the Octavia still the smarter buy? Video: Neil Briscoe

Thu, Apr 24, 2014, 10:44

I had them. You must have had them too. Surely we all – at one time or another – did. Those little notes scribbled in a corner of your school report card. “Must try harder.” As childhood phrases go, it’s right up there with “if you don’t learn now it’ll be much harder later” and “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.” It’s deflating.

Pity poor Skoda then when it launched the new Rapid saloon in 2012. After close to a decade of unalloyed praise for every new Skoda that came along (yes, even for the Roomster) the Rapid just fell a bit flat. Yes, it was affordable, spacious and well made but it felt awful to drive, with rear suspension that skipped crudely over bumps. It also committed the cardinal sin of being just a touch too bland to look at.

That could and should have been it, the final verdict. After all, the Rapid was designed to be a cheap family motor for those who don’t really concern themselves much with the finer points of handling and dynamics. Kudos then to Skoda for having a good hard look at the Rapid’s critical performance and coming back with something better.

The Rapid Spaceback is to the standard Rapid as the Audi A3 Sportback is the the regular A3. While, as I’m sure you remember, the standard Rapid is a hatchback (with a long, huge fastback covering a massive boot) so too is the Spaceback, but it looks a little more hatch-y, a touch estate-y. It looks better than the standard car, frankly.

It only moves from better to actually really good looking if you shell out €1,200 for the optional Style Pack which brings with it a panorama glass roof, nice alloys and some sexy blacked-out panels around the bumpers, rear hatch and mirrors. It really lifts the style of the car onto another level and it’s well worth the extra, even at this price-sensitive end of the market.

All told, the extras fitted to our test car (a 1.2 TSI petrol in mid-spec Ambition trim) lifted its price from €19,350 to €20,999 – not an insignificant rise for a car such as this, and it compares to a basic model price of €17,495. However, it did include such niceties as sat-nav, a DAB radio receiver, cruise control and a nice three-spoke steering wheel with multi-function controls. So while our test Rapid’s price was inflated well into (larger) Octavia territory, it came laden with toys that would cost that much more again to fit to an Octavia. A classic trade off between size, prestige and toys.

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