Many years back I had test bookings on a Porsche 911 and an Audi Quattro – the hot rally car of that time.
As luck would have it, I was deskbound for most of the two weeks concerned. The cars spent most of the time on my drive and I was only able to put 100 miles or so on each of them.
Ironically, sandwiched in between the two supercars was a Skoda Rapide – then the cheapest new car on the market.
That entire week was spent out on the road and I logged up more than 1,500 hassle-free miles in a car that was the butt of many a joke but did its job surprisingly well.
Truth was, Skodas of that era were far better than their reputation. They may have been tinny but the engines purred and they consistently won their class in rallying.
Skoda re-branded itself big time when the Audi-Volkswagen group took the helm of the Czech carmaker.
Now, with the launch of the compact new Rapid model –no ‘e’ this time – the company has introduced a new design template that the PR people trumpet as being clear, precise, timeless and elegant.
I have to concur for here’s a vehicle that’s good looking from every angle.
Aimed fair and square at the family motorist, the design is not just good looking, it offers exceptional roominess for driver and passengers alike.
“The Rapid is the new benchmark for roominess in its class,” claims Skoda CEO Winfried Vahland.
Other USPs include an attractive price to value ratio, a comprehensive safety offering and exceptionally efficient engines.
Here’s a car that’s designed not simply to get you from A to B quickly and economically but to do so without ending up like a tip.
What the Skoda team bill as ‘simply clever’ solutions; include a refuse bin in the side door, an ice scraper stowed inside the tank filler flap, and, located under the font seat, a very practical safety vest holder. Other stowage aids include a multimedia holder, a ticket holder, cup holders, netting on the rear of the front seats and an optional netting system for the huge 550-litre boot, which is the largest in its class.
The Rapid is available with a choice of four petrol and two diesel engines, all of them conforming to EU 5 standards. The petrol entry-level engine is the 1.2-litre l MPI three-cylinder producing 55 kW (75 hp). The other petrol engines are the 1.2 l 63 kW (86 hp) TSI, the 1.2 l 77 kW (105 hp) TSI and the 1.4 l 90 kW (122 hp) TSI.
The 1.6 litre diesel engine comes with direct common rail injection and a particulate matter filter and is available in two power variants, the basic diesel putting out 66 kW (90 hp) and, scheduled for marketing in the second half of 2013, the more powerful 1.6 l TDI CR version, putting out 77 kW (105 hp).
The Skoda Rapid range is priced from £12,900 to £17,850. You get a lot of car for the money.