Day 1: Rapid? Oh dear. Skoda has got to stop giving its cars names that allow jocular twats to smirk ‘No it isn’t. Ha ha ha.’ See also, the Superb. The Rapid isn’t… you know, but it seems capable of moving forwards and backwards under its own power which is a start. It also looks quite nice in a simple and inoffensive way. From the rear three-quarter it’s like a slightly inaccurate computer rendering of the current Octavia. On closer inspection, the line down the side is really, really crisp in a way that metal presses probably couldn’t do a few years ago. This test car is sprayed bright red. In a sea of grey and silver cars on my street it looks quite jaunty.
Day 2: I have to go somewhere I’ve never been before. This Rapid is fitted with the factory sat-nav option which is, rather brilliantly, called Amundsun. Presumably there’s a lower-priced option called Scott which gets you there more slowly. Or an Oates one that waits until halfway through the journey and then gallantly switches itself off. The new David Bowie song is on the radio. Where were you when you first heard the new David Bowie song, Richard? I was in a Skoda Rapid on the North Circular. Oh well.
Day 3: You look at the Rapid on its bulbous tyres and small wheels and you think, I bet that car rides really well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. In fact, it’s quite bumpy. Shame. The handling appears to be fine. I went round some corners. It didn’t crash. I didn’t feel compelled to turn around and go round the corners again. No one will drive a Rapid like a soft-handed helmwright so this barely matters anyway.
Day 4: Every time I switch off this ignition in this Rapid the display between the dials started hectoring me: CHECK SAFELOCK! Owners’ manual! it says. Today I give in and look at the manual. There is no mention of a check safelock anywhere. Later I have a look on the internet. It turns out to be a warning about the automatic deadlocks. It would be much less confusing if it just said, OI THICKO! Don’t lock your children in the car!
Day 5: Here’s a strange thing. The Rapid has two switches on the driver’s door that control the front electric windows in the normal way. It also has a window disable switch. What’s it disabling? Later on I discover that, unexpectedly, the Rapid has electric windows in the back too but no way for the driver to make them go up and down from the front. Do you need to operate the back windows from the front? Probably not. It does, however, suggest that Skoda has saved a few quid on switches and cabling. The front windows are one-touch down but not up. Another few pennies saved on sensors.
Day 6: In most ways, the Rapid doesn’t feel cheap, it just feels nicely simple. Mind you, it’s not actually cheap. This one is almost 18 grand. Not bad for a Focus rival but then the Rapid doesn’t quite feel like a Focus rival. Oddly enough, it’s almost five inches longer yet, because its fundamental underparts are related to the Polo, nearly six inches narrower which means its most natural rival is a canal boat. On the plus side, it has a vast amount of rear legroom and the boot is ginormous. I’ve also noticed that the glovebox is so huge you could probably fit your head in it. I would have verified this but I didn’t want my neighbours to think I’m strange.
Day 7: The Rapid is being taken away again. It’s not the most exciting car in the world but I’ve grown to like it, largely because it’s sort of wilfully underplayed. Ride quality notwithstanding, I’d recommend it to anyone who lives in a narrow street but needs a lot of legroom and a glovebox you can get your head into.
This car was a Skoda Rapid Elegance 1.6 TDI with a 104 horsepower diesel engine. Skoda say it can go from 0-62 in 10.4 seconds and on to 118mph. It costs £17,850.