One year after the sedan, hatchback Skoda released a new version of its Rapid. But beyond a simple variant, this is especially Spaceback the first model of the brand to try his luck in the highly competitive compact segment. The question is whether the newcomer is up to this ambitious challenge.
To fill the void that remained within the range between the Fabia and Octavia city sedan, Skoda came out last year the “average” Rapid . However, its profile notchback and format “in between” the reserved mainly for emerging markets. So in order to better adapt to the demands of the West that the Czech firm accepts a new European version Spaceback customers. With a length of 4.30 m and a hatchback body, it goes straight, and this is a first for the brand in the highly competitive compact segment.
Although shorter than 18 cm, the first “real” Czech solid pack identical to the sedan (2.60 m) wheelbase. This allows him to keep an excellent roominess in the rear, while offering its tailgate with a very respectable cargo volume than that of a Golf (415 liters against 380 for the German). Aesthetic issue, however, we can not say it is part of the most attractive in the category.
The brand communication has beautiful use the words “emotion” or “sporty” are not really the ones that best describe the very classic line Spaceback. Still work out a little, if you opt for the optional wheels and especially the style package (option to 770 € on the finishes Ambition and Elegance), which then boosts the line between self adding this can sunroof and the other extension of the rear window glass.
Inside, if the materials used are mostly hard plastic, the build quality is good and the overall style reminiscent of the big sister Octavia , which is a compliment in itself. Again, it is possible to reduce the ambient austerity, with white or black lacquered veneer on the dashboard (option 70 €). Skoda claims have also reworked the quality of finish of the interior compared to the Rapid sedan.
But improvements enjoyed this new model are not only cosmetic. Skoda has heard criticism from the press on the handling of the Rapid last year and claims to have seen the suspensions and the direction it is now electro-hydraulic. At the wheel, the balance actually improves and Spaceback approximates the average category. Although still lacking a bit of feeling, the feeling of management is much better, while the damping offers comfort, despite a certain lack of rigor at high speed.
We tested the Rapid Spaceback in two versions, one with the 1.6 TDI 90 associated with the dual-clutch DSG7 and the other with the 105hp version of the same engine and manual transmission. If the difference of 15 hp between the two models is not very noticeable, the difference in agreement between the two transmissions is much more. 90 hp diesel unit are actually quite decent enough to move this rather compact light (1280 kg), but could be better used by the DSG, the haphazard management and unnatural when we rise a little rhythm.
We advise customers to save € 1,505 required for this DSG or invest in other options. For Rapid, as for most Skoda models, the focus is on rates, expected to be the most accessible of the category. TDI Version 90 manual gearbox, which should be the best selling in our market, starts at € 19,095 in Active finish properly equipped for an entry-level. If this rate may seem very interesting at first, but it is not enough against a very aggressive competition.
The example Chevrolet, the product placement is quite similar to the Skoda is the most striking, with a five-door Cruze diesel 130 hp (1.7 VCDi 131) to € 21,900. A lower tariff to € 22,470 requested for Rapid Spaceback TDI 105 Elegance, less powerful, less and less well equipped.
Internal competition within the Volkswagen group is also quite tough for the Czech, with a Seat Leon starting at € 17,800 in TDI 90 or € 1,295 less than the TDI Spaceback Active 90. The Iberian is a bit less roomy and furnished in equipment, however, it is based on a modern platform (MQB) offering excellent road behavior and shows much more aesthetically appealing.
Rapid Spaceback can unsheathe well as his last trump Start and Stop (which allows him announced a combined consumption of 3.9 l/100 km), its regenerative braking and real spare wheel standard on all versions It is not certain that this is enough to tip the balance.
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