Skoda Rapid (2012 - 2018)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

5dr family hatch – (1.0 TSI 95PS, 110PS / 1.2 90PS / 1.4 TSI 120PS / 1.4 TDI 90PS / 1.6 TDI 95PS, 105PS )


Back in 2012, Skoda re-focused itself on the family hatchback segment with this Rapid, a car that was bigger and better value than most of its Golf and Astra-sized competitors. Rapidity may not be high on this car’s agenda but with proven mechanicals and a refreshing lack of gimmickry, it aims to appeal to an assured kind of buyer who doesn’t need to hide behind a badge to impress others. In other words, the kind of person who’s traditionally bought a Skoda will probably very much like this one. Let’s check it out as a used buy.

The History

Back in the 1930s, the Skoda Rapid helped its Czech brand to become one of the largest automotive makers in Eastern Europe. And, with history repeating itself as it often does, this car, another Skoda Rapid, aimed to do exactly the same thing at its launch in 2012. Developed alongside SEAT’s virtually identical Toledo, this design was true to Skoda’s core values, costing buyers a little less yet offering them a little more, with starting prices pitched a shade below the family hatchback norm and cabin space, particularly in the boot, a little above it.

Those values will appeal to this car’s target used buying audience, more mature private buyers seeking reliable five-door transport delivering everything they need and nothing they don’t. So the fact that sophistication beneath the skin, out on the road and inside the cabin was largely reserved for Skoda’s more up-market Octavia will probably matter little. In 2013, the Czech brand introduced the more conventional-looking Rapid Spaceback model to sell alongside this Rapid. In 2019, both cars were replaced by the brand’s Scala model.

What You Get

We’ll need to tell you that this car was styled by the same man, Jozef Kaban, who penned the million pound Bugatti Veyron supercar, for it’s not something you’d guess on first acquaintance with this smart, clean but rather conventional shape. Actually, it’s not very conventional at all by class standards, at around 4.5m long and under 2m wide significantly longer but slightly narrower than the Focus-sized family hatchback class norm.

Aesthetically, probably the most notable feature is the distinctive front grille, formed from 19 vertical slats that aim to widen the look of the car and finished with a chrome frame that dips around a prominate Skoda badge that sits centrally on a raised crease rising from the bonnet to the base of the windscreen. Moving to the side reveals the crisp so-called ‘Tornado line’ that’s also used on far pricier Audis, there to accentuate the length of the body and link both front and rear light clusters to form one harmonious shape. The rear lights feature the brand’s usual ‘C-shaped’ design and are finished with the same crystalline detailing applied to the lamps at the front.

At the wheel, those familiar with the brand will feel quite at home. As usual with Skodas, the design is clean, functional but not particularly exciting, with many of the surfaces quite hard to the touch and things like the unlined storage bins suggestive of budget brand pricing. Still, everything is nicely laid out and seemingly built to last and there are plenty of useful nooks and crannies, including a slot for your parking tickets and useful storage nets on the side of the front seats’ backrest where you can get at them easily. A ‘V’-shaped centre console rises up from the footwell to the main dashboard and houses both ventilation and stereo controls. Through the four-spoke wheel you glimpse a large, clear twin-binnacle instrument display. Nothing then to especially catch the eye, but everything perfectly in its place.

What To Look For

In our ownership survey, we struggled to find many people who didn’t like their Rapids. We found one owner who complained of damp creeping into the interior – check for this. And he had problems with the electric mirrors. Otherwise, it’s just necessary to look out for the usual family hatch issues – kerbed alloys and evidence of damage from unruly children on the interior plastics. Obviously, you’ll want a fully stamped-up service history.

On The Road

Back in 2012, the last time we had seen a Skoda bearing a Rapid badge in this country was back in the early Eighties with a rear-engined budget coupe lauded as a kind of poor-man’s Porsche 911. This car, in contrast, was modelled far more closely on the values of the model of the same name produced back in the Thirties which was strong, solid, 1.2 and 1.6-litre powered and so reliable that in 1936, one was driven from one side of Africa to the other and back again without a hitch. You feel this Rapid would do the same, its tried and tested Volkswagen Group mechanicals almost certain to maintain Skoda’s dominance in customer satisfaction surveys the world over.

And under the bonnet? Well you can’t go too far wrong provided you don’t opt for the entry-level 75PS 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol unit. It isn’t really up to the task of moving a car of this size along and is far less economic than the four cylinder 86PS 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine that isn’t much more expensive and should really form the starting point of the line-up. Rest to 62mph here occupies 11.8s on the way to 118mph and if that’s not fast enough, you can opt for this engine in turbocharged 105PS form, in which guise the figures are improved to 10.3s and 121mph.


Skoda understands its customers. Ease of ownership, value pricing and solid build are all priorities – and all satisfied here by this Rapid. That the brand can deliver more sophistication than this is not in doubt – the larger Octavia demonstrates that. But the point here is that a significant number of customers just don’t need it. People being targeted precisely by this car.