The Skoda Rapid Spaceback has the right blend of style, practicality and character. It's a credible, good-value family motor, writes Tim Barnes-Clay.
It's no secret that if you buy a Skoda you're buying a VW or Audi - or even a SEAT - with a paper-thin disguise.
The engineering is the same, as are many of the components that go into the chassis, body and interior.
Why? Well, all four car marques - Skoda, VW, Audi and SEAT - are part of the Volkswagen Group.
So, although Skoda cars once had a laughable reputation, they're now seen as a quality buy.
A hatch with a coupé-like profile
The Skoda Rapid is VW-Golf sized, and the Spaceback version adds a coupé-like profile, akin to the Audi A3 Sportback.
The Skoda Rapid Spaceback is as sexy as any German hatch and is definitely the right car for many families and young people.
It combines modern looks with the Skoda reliability and good build we have come to expect.
And, compared with conventional hatchback cars, the car appears significantly longer when viewed from the side.
This gives the positive impression that the car is as full of space as its name suggests and that it's not simply another compact hatchback.
Well-equipped with kit
Kit on the Spaceback includes alloy wheels, a trip computer which displays key data such as how much fuel you've used and average miles per gallon, six loudspeakers and tinted glass.
Optional features include: a large panoramic sunroof; touchscreen sat nav with DAB radio; climate control; a leather pack and a long rear window, as fitted to my mid range 1.2 TSI 105PS SE test car.
It offers plenty of room for all passengers.
Occupants in the rear enjoy the most knee and headroom in the entire family hatchback segment.
In this respect, the Skoda Rapid Spaceback is a better option than, say, the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Hyundai i30, Kia cee'd, or SEAT Leon.
The boot also sets new standards with its large capacity for loads.
A double cargo area which divides the floor into two horizontal compartments is particularly useful.
There are also handy hooks and nets designed to keep your shopping from spilling out on the way back from the supermarket.
Cheap to run
On the road, the car pulls well with its small 1.2 unit, although it feels highly strung at times.
In addition the ride is fine on the straights and in town, however it's shockingly bouncy over speed bumps and potholes.
The gearing is good though, and the fluid, six-gear, manual transmission makes driving easy.
On average the car will return 52.3 mpg and CO2 emissions are pretty low at 125g/km. This all equates to inexpensive running costs.
Rapid in name only
The Skoda Rapid Spaceback may not be what most of us think of as rapid but it does 0 to 62mph in 10.2 seconds, with a top speed of 120mph.
That's probably enough for those looking for a handsome, fresh, low-cost motor that has an air of quality about it.
This hatchback shows why so many motorists become Skoda buyers - it is an intelligent blend of style and practicality, with just the right dose of character to make it stand out.
In addition you get a great reputation for reliability that makes for a credible, value-for-money family car purchase.
Skoda Rapid Spaceback: Pros & cons
- Looks √
- Space √
- Cheap to run √
- Highly strung X
- Bouncy suspension X
Skoda Rapid Spaceback: Fast facts
- Max speed: 120 mph
- 0-62 mph: 10.2 secs
- Combined mpg: 52.3
- Engine: 1197 cc 4 cylinder 16 valve petrol
- Max. power (bhp): 103 at 5000 rpm
- Max. torque (lb-ft): 129 at 1550 rpm
- CO2: 125 g/km
- Price: £16,180 on the road
Ends 30th Sept. Selected products. GB only (excl NI). 18 yrs+. T&Cs apply.