The Spaceback — or hatchback in everyone else’s language — is a neat sensible-looking car that will not go out of fashion, even if it will never set pulses racing. Some rivals in this competitive class look more exciting and modern - is it worth paying more for that?
If you stare hard at the Spaceback, you can see similarities to its VW Group sibling - the more prestigious Audi A3. You can see how the crisp straight lines echo some Audis and how the Rapid fits into a family style in the Skoda line-up between the Fabia and Octavia.
Low-spec cars get budget steel wheels and black trim, higher spec adds body coloured extras and alloys. An optional panoramic sunroof gives a bit of fun to the car’s image.
An optional panoramic sunroof gives a bit of fun to the car’s image.
What’s it like to drive?
Out on the road, the Rapid is an easy car to drive, with light and responsive controls. Whether you opt for a diesel or petrol powered version, the Spaceback is lively enough in town and perfectly adequate on the motorway without ever seeming to live up to its Rapid name.
You’ll find the Skoda rides smoothly on normal roads, is generally quiet and provides handling that is both predictable and safe. It’s a car for making relaxed journeys — enthusiastic drivers however may be a little underwhelmed by the Spaceback’s agility in twisty roads or composure over bumpy surfaces. There is no VRS performance version.
Out on the road, the Rapid is an easy car to drive.
The Skoda hatch has a pretty spacious and comfortable cabin without ever matching the class and quality of more expensive rivals like its own close Audi relation.
Most owners find that the head- and leg-room are fine in the front and the back. The rear seats in particular compare well to many rivals in this class. Three kids can easily fit across the back and even tall adults will be comfortable.
Like the exterior, it’s all neat and efficient without making anyone say ‘wow’. There’s a decent level of equipment across the range, with even the latest base models getting luxuries like Bluetooth, air conditioning and remote locking. The car’s budget price tag is revealed by materials and trim that feel sturdily screwed together without giving a premium feel when you touch them.
The name may imply some unique interior luggage potential. Actually, the 5-door Rapid is as conventional as any small family hatchback. You lift a tailgate and there’s the boot, which is average, and if you want to make it bigger, you simply lower the back seats.
The Skoda shows its budget limitations a little with an awkward high loading lip on the boot and the fact that the back seats don’t fold completely flat. Note the double-sided boot liner though as it allows you to carry messy loads without running the boot forever.
There are nice practical Skoda touches to look out for in some versions, like the ice scraper in the fuel filler cap, cup-holders in the back-seat armrest and an umbrella under the passenger seat. Most models have two very handy USB sockets in the rear, too. Some have carrier bag hooks in the boot.
Pay a little more for a top spec model and you can get a competitive level of useful tech equipment as standard - rear parking sensors, sat-nav and cruise control. Most get a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen system although in some trims it doesn’t provide sat-nav. It’s all simple and easy to use. If you love using the latest apps on the move look out for cars which have the added option of phone connectivity — it doesn’t come as standard.
Running costs and reliability
There’s a range of economical engines, with the impressive 1.4 diesel returning official figures of 71mpg. Add to that the Rapid’s low tax, low insurance, and reasonable servicing and parts and it is an easy and inexpensive car to live with.
What cinch loves
Here is a good, solid, unpretentious,5-door hatchback that does what most owners want: provide comfortable, reliable transport. The Skoda Radid Spaceback is spacious, easy to drive and has low running costs. Yes,it’s plain and somewhat unexciting but it’s a serious contender if you don’t need flashiness or prestigious branding.