DRIVEN ➤ Skoda Rapid Spaceback

09 Oct

By Wayne Gorrett, Lake Garda, Italy - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 06

What are the highs and lows?

✔ Clean, unfussy external styling
✔ Good standard kit level
✔ GreenLine variant coming
✖ The ride is a little too pliable
✖ Electronic steering is light but dull throughout - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 07

So, what is it?

Okay, hands up…you’ve got me here.
As is human nature, I’ll cover the easy bit first – it is the new Skoda Rapid Spaceback.
Quite WHY it is the new ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback, is an interesting question.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a ŠKODA, so by rote it’s a good car. However, it is a challenge to find a pigeon hole the Spaceback could ideally call home, but more on that later. - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 13 - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 09

As an integral part of the VAG Group, it’s generally well known that much of ŠKODA’s model line-up is shared with Volkswagen. However, the Rapid is a unique model that’s twinned only with SEAT’s Toledo. It sits between the Fabia (VW Polo, SEAT Ibiza) and the Golf-based Octavia. In doing so, a little niche was created.

Is it a looker?

It would be too easy to go all Clarksonesque here and be bullishly unkind. But by today’s ever youthful standards of car design (SEAT Leon) no, it’s not a looker. While it may be a car that now or at any time in the future, may deem a second glance to be superfluous, it does have clean, unfussy lines which (as on the new Peugeot 308) I quite like and the angled creases on the bootlid are a neat touch. It is not quite an estate and is closer in appearance to a hatchback, particularly in its profile. - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 18

What’s it like inside?

The name is erroneous because, despite the extended roofline, it has less load area that the Rapid sedan on which it is based. The sedan offers 550 litres of natural space while the Spaceback surrenders a significant 135 litres of that with row two in place.

But in that negative comes the cars best positive. The Spaceback’s designers have done a great job of making the available 415 litres a far more practical space than the sedan due to the flatter load area and incorporating the lowest rear-loading sill in this class. There is a goodly 1,380 litres of luggage space with the rear bench seat folded flat. Rear legroom is very good and there are numerous storage spaces. - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 17

The Spaceback is still roomier throughout than say, a Kia cee’d or Hyundai i30, cars with which this ŠKODA will undoubtedly compete. The switchgear is of good VAG quality and all controls mirror those of the Rapid sedan, which fall intuitively to hand on the fly. - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 05 - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 04

The interior is not going to flutter many hearts but should appeal to its demanding target market – the young family types. So, that’s it’s durable, practical and offers an efficient, Germanic-like life-style choice is just as well.

What trim levels are available?

The ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback is well equipped and the three specification levels across the range – S, SE and Elegance – are generous and with additional equipment over the Rapid sedan. Aircon is standard across the range as are curtain airbags, front electric windows and a two-way adjustable steering column. SE grades include alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, cruise control and Bluetooth, while Elegance adds – among others items – climate control, height-adjustable front seats and cornering fog lamps. - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 15 - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 03

What’s the engine & transmission line-up?

The engine line-up at launch comprises of five power plants. There are three TSi petrol and two TDi diesel units, in 5-speed manual or 6-speed DSG automatic transmission.

Petrol engines: The very willing 1.2TSi is available in two states of tune – 86PS and 105PS and offers manual transmission only, across all grades. The 1.4TSi offers 122PS across all specification grades and is coupled with the excellent DSG auto ‘box. Fuel efficiencies range from 48.7 to 55.4mpg combined, with CO2 emissions starting at 119g/km, topping out at 134g/km for the 1.4TSi DSG. - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 1.2 TSi engine - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 1.6 TDi engine

Diesel engine(s): The one diesel engine is the trusty and uber-efficient 1.6 TDi, available in two states of tune – 90PS and 105PS, delivering 230 and 250 Nm of delightful torque respectively. Fuel efficiencies are exceptional, with both outputs offering 64.2mpg combined and 114g/km CO2.

The already strong case for the ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback in the efficiency stakes is further strengthened with the imminent inclusion of a Spaceback GreenLine version with CO2 emissions of just 99g/km. Further details of the GreenLine variant – while not available at launch – will be known soon.

What’s it like to drive?

Technically, the Rapid Spaceback is a bit of a mongrel. The forward setup of the car has been taken from the current VW Polo with its MacPherson struts and 20mm anti-roll bar. The rear underpinnings are a hangover from the first-generation Octavia and feature a compound-link crank axle with a torsion stabiliser. Spring travel rates on all four corners of the Spaceback have been kept the same as the Rapid sedan, but the shocks have been retuned to deliver a softer, more comfortable and pliable ride. - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 08

The steering has been switched from a hydraulic setup to an electro-mechanical one, especially tuned to negate road vibrations and accordingly is entirely mute when disseminating road nuances. The Spaceback’s ride is comfortable and the steering is accurate enough, but the latter is far too light. The penalty (as I apprehensively discovered while running late for our Verona airport departure) is increased body roll as you ‘push-on’. However, most buyers of this car are likely to have family aboard so ‘pushing-on’ is an activity most will neither deploy or indeed enjoy.

Is it safe?

Sure, the Spaceback performed similarly in tests to the Rapid sedan, which received a five-star Euro NCAP rating. Regular safety kit such as ABS and ESC systems are standard across the range, as are six airbags. - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 21

Depending on the model chosen, additional safety includes hill-hold control, cornering fog lamps, tyre pressure monitoring and for child safety, Isofix car seats can be secured in the rear seat anchorages and top tether straps, which attach child safety seats securely to the car.

What are the prices like – silly money?

No, not at all. Quite the opposite in fact. Prices start from a very reasonable £14,340 for the 1.2 TSi 86PS in ‘S’ specification and a whopping 25 models later, peak at only £18,900 for the 1.6TDi 90PS DSG in Elegance trim.

2014 Skoda Rapid Spaceback model line-up

So, overall – what do you think?

With noticeable improvements to the ride quality, a decent engine line-up, a high degree of practicality and a good level of standard equipment, the Skoda Rapid Spaceback is an excellent example of no nonsense family or business transportation.

While it isn’t particularly stylish, I do like all that extra glass and the hatchback profile will appeal to many. Does it bridge the gap between the Fabia and the Octavia? I suppose it does, even if we were – up until recently – unaware there was even a gap to be filled in the first place.

So, on its own merits, perhaps the Rapid Spaceback neither needs nor deserves a pigeon hole all of its own. It’s not overly important WHY ŠKODA made the Spaceback…

They have, it’s here and it’s good.


  Common details across the Rapid Spaceback range 

Body type: 5-door, 5-seater.
Drive wheels: Front
Dimensions: L 4,314mm, W 1,706mm. H 1,459mm.
Wheelbase: 2,602mm.
Turning circle: 10.2m.
Luggage capacity: Row two up, 415 litres. Row two down, 1,380 litres.
Gross vehicle weight: Petrol 1,160kg, diesel 1,280kg.
Max tow weight kg (braked & unbraked): Petrol 1,100 & 570. Diesel 1,200 & 640.
Fuel tank capacity: 55 litres (12.5 gallons). - Skoda Rapid Spaceback 20

☀  Engines – Fast Facts: 

1.2-litre TSi, 4-cylinder petrol

Power/torque – 86PS / 160Nm @ 1,500-3,000rpm.
Power/torque – 105PS / 175Nm @ 1,550-4,100rpm.
Transmission: 5-speed manual only.
0-62mph: 86PS – 11.7s / 105PS – 10.2s
Top speed: 86PS – 112mph / 105PS – 120mph.
Stop/Start: Yes, plus energy recovery system.
Fuel consumption (combined): 86PS – 57.7mpg, 105PS – 55.4mpg.
CO2 rating: 86PS – 119gkm / 105PS – 125gkm.

1.4-litre TSi, 4-cylinder petrol

Power/torque – 122PS / 200Nm @ 1,500 – 4,000rpm.
Transmission: 6-speed DSG only.
0-62mph: 9.4s.
Top speed: 126mph.
Stop/Start: Yes, plus energy recovery system.
Fuel consumption (combined): 51.4mpg.
CO2 rating: 134gkm.

1.6-litre TDi, 4-cylinder diesel

Power/torque – 90PS / 230Nm @ 1,500 – 2,500rpm.
Power/torque – 105PS / 250Nm @ 1,500 – 2,500rpm.
Transmission: 90PS – 5-speed manual and 6-speed DSG.
Transmission: 105PS – 6-speed DSG only.
0-62mph: 90PS – 11.9s (manual) – 12.1s (DSG).
0-62mph: 105PS – 10.3s.
Top speed: 90PS – 113mph (manual and DSG).
Top speed: 105PS – 118mph (manual).
Stop/Start: Yes, plus energy recovery system.
Fuel consumption (combined): 90PS – 64.2mpg (manual) / 62.6mpg DSG.
Fuel consumption (combined): 105PS – 64.2mpg (manual).
CO2 rating: 90PS – 114gkm (manual & DSG).
CO2 rating: 105PS – 118gkm (manual).

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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Driven


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