- Same engine range as Rapid saloon
- Fruity 1.0 TSI is fun
- Seven-speed DSG is slow to shift
Smooth petrol engines
The petrol engine range starts in the UK with the 95hp 1.0 TSI engine, which although smooth and offering acceptable performance in the lower gears soon runs out of steam as speeds increase. The 0-62mph sprint takes 11.0 seconds when equipped with the five-speed manual and 11.3 seconds with the seven-speed DSG automatic.
The automatic adds some extra ease-of-use benefit, but is slow to respond to sudden inputs and the slurred gear changes can be irritating. We also worry that when the car is loaded with kids and kit the extra weight may highlight its performance shortcoming even more.
Next in the range is the higher-powered 1.0 TSI with 110hp, and that extra 15hp makes a huge difference on the road. The good news is there’s no significant penalty when it comes to CO2 emissions or economy if you choose this engine. The engine is smooth and quiet and with plenty of power, so overtaking is easy and the addition of a sixth gear makes for excellent motorway refinement. This engine is manual-only, and is capable of reacing 62mph in 9.8 seconds. We’d argue that this engine is the pick of the range.
For those who require a little extra performance, completing the petrol line up is the 1.4 TSI with 125hp. This engine is automatic-only, and sprints from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds.
Economical diesel engines
There are two diesel choices in the Rapid Spaceback range: a 1.4-litre TDI and a larger 1.6-litre version.
The 1.4-litre TDI has 90hp and is available with either five-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG automatic. Regardless of transmission choice, it’s the slowest engine in the Spaceback’s range: 0-62mph in 11.6 seconds for the manual or 11.7 seconds for the automatic.
The larger 1.6-litre TDI engine has 116hp, and will be the better option for those doing several thousand miles a year, as there is more power available for overtaking and it still manages solid fuel economy figures. It manages a respectable 9.9-second 0-62mph time, but is manual only.
- Placid and safe to drive
- Better placed around town
- Light steering
While it’s not the most exciting or engaging car to drive, the Skoda Rapid Spaceback’s handling is neat enough. With a well-balanced chassis and tight body control it inspires a decent degree of confidence.
The Spaceback displays fine levels of traction during hard cornering, if you were to push it, but it’s a car that’s all about being easy to live with. It’s very smooth and the ride is supple, only agitated by the largest of ruts in the road.
It also comes with the latest technology and safety systems such as stability and traction control to make sure you always feel completely in control of the car regardless of the conditions.
Using a lightweight design was key to the Rapid’s inception, and it shows on the road where it feels nippy and agile. It’s not a car that wills you on to thrash it, but it’s capable of gripping well if you throw it into a corner.
The steering is light, even at mototway speeds, which can make it fidgety if you’re heavy-handed with steering inputs, but makes the Rapid Spaceback easy to dart around town and park.
- Easy to connect to mobile phone
- Controls easy to hand
- Notchy manual gearbox
Inside, the Skoda Rapid Spaceback features a simple and clean design, with a layout that makes it easy to navigate around. It’s shared with the regular Rapid hatchback and those familiar with the brand will not find it difficult to use.
Behind the steering wheel is a set of clearly laid-out instruments, with speedometer, rev counter and trip computer all present and correct.
The centre console itself is intuitive to use, the sat-nav in particular is easy to navigate around with clear easy to read graphics. Handily the instructions can also be displayed in the trip computer between the main instruments, so you don’t always have to look at the centre console. Like other VW Group cars, the touchscreen reacts to hand motions coming towards it, so some of the sub-menus pop out as your hand approaches.
The steering wheel has essential controls on there for volume and equipment like cruise control but is not overwhelming or over cluttered while both the air conditioning and climate control are easy to use. Plenty of vents around the car ensure it gets to your desired temperature quickly.
- TSI petrols are hushed on the move
- Ride not really affected by larger wheels
- Clattery diesels can get tiresome
Comfort in the Skoda Rapid Spaceback is impressive, helped in part by the supportive seats and plenty of passenger room allowing occupants to stretch out on longer journeys. Four adults are easily able to travel in complete comfort.
If you choose one of the TSI petrol engines, the motors are barely noticeable, but wind noise dominates the cabin at motorway cruising speeds. It’s not too loud where you can’t have a converstation, but it cancels out the efforts the small petrol engines make to remain as quiet as possible.
The 1.6-litre TDI diesel adds the classic diesel clatter to the mix on the move, and manages to sound a bit like a van even when the engine is warm.
The suspension is fairly soft meaning bumps and potholes are dealt with quite easily making for a comfortable ride.
Rear space is plentiful, with loads of legroom available even if your driver or front passenger is over 6ft tall. Headroom is equally very good, even if you choose the optional panoramic sunroof. The window line is quite high, which might lead young children to be irritated by the lack of view out, but there are two USB points as standard that can charge mobile devices at the rear end of the centre console.