JOE goes to Bratislava to test drive the Skoda Rapid
Earlier on in the month JOE was invited to check out Skoda’s latest creation called the Rapid and it involved being wined and dined in Slovakia. So that made it easier to make room in our diary.
I arrived in Austria’s Vienna International Airport with a group of Irish motors journos earlier this week and when we walked through arrivals we were greeted by three stunning brunettes clad in tightly-fitting Skoda branded clothing. If the car looked half as good as these girls then I knew we’d be laughing.
After landing in the airport at around 11am we were ushered off to a fancy hotel for a quick breakfast and a briefing on what exactly we’d be up to. Our test drive would involve driving from Vienna in Austria to the Czech Republic for lunch and then back to Bratislava in Slovakia for dinner that evening, so it sounded like a good day was in store.
Once we were finished eating we had our choice between a variety of the different petrol and diesel Rapids. The drive was obviously going to take some beautiful scenic routes that would include some of the best ‘driving roads’ that the different countries had to offer, so the 1.2L TSI petrol engine seemed like a good choice. It would also be good to see if we could have a bit of fun in what’s essentially a family car.
It was a comfortable drive on smooth roads, but the comfort was let down slightly by the suspension when we took on slightly bumpier roads. It’s quick enough off the start for an 84hp engine and its cornering abilities are quite good to.
On first impressions, it’s a nice looking motor. Its shape is defined by sharp lines and perfectly straight edges on the doors and bonnet and a distinctive grille gives the Rapid it’s own sense of identity within the brand. The new less colourful Skoda badge has also been lifted off the grille to give it pride of place on the car. It comes in a range of colours but the one that we took out for a spin was the Corrida Red (pictured above) and it really was an eye-catching colour – in the good sense.
A simple but clever interior
The interior is fairly simple but it comes with everything you could need including a USB port for your iPod/MP3 and that’s if your chosen model doesn’t already come with Bluetooth as standard. There are a rake of other ‘Simply Clever’ (Skoda’s official tag line) features in the Rapid - 19 in total - and they range from double-sided carpet in the boot (one side is for everyday use, the other is made of durable rubber for your mucky hiking boots) to an ice scraper located on the inside of the petrol cap.
The Rapid is poised between the small Skoda Fabia and the large Octavia saloon. The Rapid itself is a saloon, but the beauty with the car’s boot is that it opens like a hatch and comes with 550L of space, which is enough room to fit in a good few golf bags and the kitchen sink.
The car looks suited for suburban families and that’s pretty much what Skoda was going for. You’re not going to see one of these on a race track anytime soon and even if you tried your best to do it up you’d probably just look like a young lad who was given his parents' car as a birthday present.
In fairness, the entry level 1.2 petrol model looks to be coming in around €16,000 and it could be a serious competitor for the Ford Focus or something similar. It’s launching over here in late October/early November and it’s certainly going to give families another good-value choice when it comes to choosing a new car.