A smallish, practical hatch with generous passenger space
- Practical touches
- Great passenger space
- Characterful 1.0-litre petrol
- Low running costs
- Smaller boot than regular Rapid
- Clattery diesel engines
- Cheap-feeling interior
- Slow-changing DSG automatic
The Skoda Rapid Spaceback is a cpmpact, practical car that sits above the Fabia but below the Octavia in the Czech marque’s range. The Spaceback attempts to blend the looks of a hatchback with the practicality and flexibility of an estate, and has young families on a budget in mind.
It’s part of Skoda’s push to redevelop its range for Europe and get the brand into key markets where they have never had a presence before, with the aim to see sales in the UK reach up to 1.5 million per year by 2018. That said, the Rapid isn’t a huge seller in the UK, with the aforementioned models having a bigger British fan-base.
Launched in 2014, the Spaceback – and its longer, regular Rapid hatchback sibling – were treated to a facelift with updates to the exterior, interior and engine range in 2017. It faces off against mainstream hatchback rivals like the Ford Focus hatchback, Hyundai i30 hatchback and Kia Ceed hatchback.
Same passenger space, smaller boot
Skoda deliberately doesn’t call the Rapid Spaceback an estate, and for good reason. It’s 18 cm shorter than the Rapid hatchback, instead insisting it’s an alternative five-door and built for lifestyle types rather than out-and-out load-lugging.
The wheelbase however remains the same as the conventional Rapid’s at 2,602mm which means that the Spaceback has some impressive passenger space; taller passengers will be pleased to learn of the 980mm headroom.
But it does mean boot space has suffered, and while the Rapid hatchback can hold 550 litres of luggage with the seats in place the Spaceback makes do with only 415 litres. The theme continues when the seats are folded flat, with the figure dropping from 1,490 litres to a still impressive 1,381 litres.
The optionally available double cargo floor however offers a choice of boot floor height and adds some extra practicality. The parcel shelf can be stowed against the rear seatbase too, so if you have to carry taller loads there’s no need to leave the load cover at home.
Range of petrol and diesel engines
Based on the same design as the Rapid up to the rear edge of the front doors, it should come as no surprise that the Spaceback shares plenty of other components with that car. And so it is with engine line up, the front-wheel drive Spaceback boasting a choice of diesel and petrol engines.
There are a pair of turbocharged TSI petrols in 1.0- and 1.4-litre capacities, as well as 1.4- and 1.6-litre TDI diesels. Dependent on which engine you choose, there’s either a five- or six-speed manual available, or a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
The 1.4-litre TDI diesel engine currently ranks as the most fuel-efficient in the range, going on claimed figures of 72.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 103g/km.
Design that emotionally connects
There really is no getting away from Skoda’s desire to see this as a lifestyle addition to its range rather than a load lugger, and the firm even offers a ‘prolonged rear window’. By extending the dark tinted area of the rear screen down into the tailgate by 100mm it visually lowers the Rapid Spaceback’s rear, making it look more glassy.
Teamed with the huge optional panoramic glass roof, you could be forgiven for thinking the glazed area stretches all the way from the base of the windscreen.
The Parkers Verdict
The Skoda Rapid Spaceback is a practical proposition that adds a dose of extra style that the frumpy regular hatchback can’t compete with. It’s good value and cheap to run, but interior quality could be improved and it’s not exacty the most exciting thing to drive. The more powerful 1.0-litre TSI is the engine of choice, but avoid the slurring DSG automatic gearbox if you can – it’s slow to change gears and dulls performance.