Czech automaker Skoda Auto arrived at Frankfurt with a whole range of new models ranging from hatchbacks to sedans and even fast, sporty four-door saloons. It was time for the annual Frankfurt auto show and Skoda took this opportunity to unveil to the world a new design direction for future Skoda products. Their line-up also included brand new models that plug-in the gaps in the market. The Skoda Rapid Spaceback slots between the Fabia and the Rapid saloon. So let’s focus our attention on this new-comer and see what it has to offer.
The Skoda Rapid Spaceback is being portrayed as a high-volumes compact segment product aimed at the younger buyer. Considering the requirements of the target audience, the Rapid Spaceback aims to address lack of space and functionality of a standard hatchback. Hence, Skoda prefers to call it the “Spaceback”.
"The new ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback is a milestone for ŠKODA: it means that we are entering the strategically important segment."
Skoda has undergone a complete design overhaul in recent times. Across their model range, an interesting design philosophy has been adopted and in my opinion, Skoda seems to be heading in the right direction especially after being overshadowed by sister brands under the VW Group umbrella. The fresh approach to design has given us a rather sporty looking hatchback with added space, thanks to the stretched profile. Distinct shoulder line gives the car a confident stance. The angular theme continues onto the front end which now features a reworked corporate Skoda grille and headlamp clusters that for a single unit. On the other end, the raked rear hatchback is a-la ‘Combi’ versions.
The new Skoda Rapid Spaceback is built around a wheelbase of 2.6 m. This has resulted in more usable space inside the cabin. Slender pillars offer better visibility and further add an airy feel to the interior. The car also boasts of best-in-class legroom and headroom. 415 litres of boot space is generous enough for the average modern family and with the seats folded, boot volume can be increased to 1380 litres which no other product in the segment manages to offer.
"With its attractive combination of space, functionality, design, the Rapid Spaceback is a new offer in small car segment.”
In-tune with its sporty exterior, the Rapid Spaceback gets a three-spoke multi-functional steering wheel with Column-Electric Power Steering (C-EPS) that uses a program-controlled electric servo motor on the steering column in place of the usual electro-hydraulic setup and a crisp new dashboard finished in high-quality trim pieces and soft-touch plastics. The steering wheel can be manually adjusted for rake. Black-faced dials house a multi-information display between them. Also, as part of an individualization option, Skoda offers a large panoramic glass roof.
On the sidelines of the 2013 Frankfurt auto show, Skoda unveiled a range of petrol and diesel engines for the European market. It includes familiar engines from the VW family viz., TDI diesel, MPI and TSI petrol. Two 1.6 litre TDI diesel engines are available in different states of tune. The base diesel is good for 88.5 horsepower while the top-spec diesel puts out 103 of peak power.
Gasoline powered engines include a 1.2 litre MPI with 74 horsepower, two 1.2 litre TSI 4-pot engines with 84 and 103 horsepower respectively, both of which are available only with a manual gearbox. The sportiest of the lot is the 1.4 litre TSI petrol with 121 horsepower on tap coupled to a slick 7-speed DSG transmission. Skoda also offers the dual-clutch transmission on diesel version as well.
The Rapid Spaceback is based on a front-engine, front-wheel drive layout with the engine being placed transversely which liberates space inside the cabin. This architecture also contributes to keep production costs low.
Skoda has certainly made its intentions clear with the Rapid Spaceback. It wants a piece of the pie in the highly competitive compact car segment. It is a car I would recommend if you want an affordable, spacious, feature-packed hatchback. It has an interior that’s well put together by VW standards. The DSG dual-clutch transmission is a gem and is being used across all the VW Group models and so are the TDI and TSI engines. Still, it lacks the finesse of the Golf. Simply put, it’s a value-for-money buy.
- New design language
- List of standard features
- DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission
- Loads of other option are available in this segment
- Loses out to other VW Group cars
- Drive quality not at par.
The toughest competition for the Skoda Rapid Spaceback comes from its own sibling. The Volkswagen Golf is a legend and can potentially woo Skoda buyers into VW showrooms. Where the Golf brand has long history behind it, Skoda would have to capitalize on its value-for-money aspect. The Rapid Spaceback is cheaper than the Golf and most of its competition. It also has an attractive feature list to boast. But, it certainly isn’t the best buy. The VW Golf is still our favorite.
Gallery 2014 Skoda Rapid Spaceback
As is expected from Hyundai, the i30 is more on the affordable side of the spectrum. That does not mean it has less in terms of features or space. The i30 gets a range of powerful diesel and petrol engines along with automatic transmission options. But, when it comes to the drive, the Hyundai falls short of a precise, taut driving experience that both the VW Golf and more notably, the Ford Focus excel at.
Press KIT: ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback
› ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback: The first ŠKODA hatchback in the high-volume compact segment
› Design: Dynamic, fresh for younger customers
› Typical ŠKODA: Spaciousness, functionality, and ’Simply Clever’ features
› Personalized: Panoramic glass roof and Spaceback rear window
› Environment: Economical petrol and diesel engines with a record low of 99 g/km CO2
› Start: World premiere at the Frankfurt International Motor Show, market launch in Europe from October 2013
Mladá Boleslav/Frankfurt am Main, September 2013 – The ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback, expands ŠKODA’s model range in the high-volume compact segment between the ŠKODA Fabia and the ŠKODA Octavia. For the first time, ŠKODA offers a compact car which combines ŠKODA’s good practical qualities with the hatchback shape. The ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback’s dynamically fresh design is sure to please younger customers. As is typical of ŠKODA, the Rapid Spaceback offers a lot of space, numerous ’Simply Clever’ ideas, top safety, interesting opportunities for customisation, low fuel consumption and excellent value. The ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback’s roominess thus sets new standards in the segment. Its launch in the European markets is scheduled from October 2013.
"The new ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback is a milestone for ŠKODA: it means that we are entering the strategically important segment of compact hatchback models," says ŠKODA CEO Winfried Vahland. "The Rapid Spaceback is a great addition to this class in that it combines ŠKODA’s good practical characteristics with the popular hatchback shape. Sporting the new ŠKODA design, the Rapid Spaceback has a fresh and dynamic appearance. It is a compact car with a sporty chic, spacious and practical, ideal for young people and families," says Vahland.
A sporty-fresh compact car with ample space
The ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback’s dynamic silhouette is marked by clear lines, dynamic outlines and a distinctive interplay of light and shadow – ŠKODA’s chief designer Jozef Kabaň and his team have done a great job. The new ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback has a clear, independent appearance – with a special chic. It is a car that exudes sporty freshness and dynamic elegance, making it attractive and appealing at first sight.
The ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback’s side view offers special accents. Compared with conventional hatchback models, it appears sportier and more stretched. This differentiates the vehicle from the competition, both optically and functionally. The ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback’s dynamic silhouette is marked by clear lines, a long wheelbase (2,602 millimetres), and a sharp, high tornado line. The Rapid Spaceback has a C and a D pillar with a third side window. Together with the slender pillars, the generous window areas create a light and friendly ambiance in the interior and ensure excellent clarity.
Individualisation is a focus area in this vehicle: One of the highlights is the huge, optional panoramic glass roof offering passengers an unobstructed view of the sky and stretching from the windshield to the rear window. It is the largest glass roof ever available in a ŠKODA. Consequently, passengers benefit from ample light and a feeling or air and space. The glass roof measures 1,713 × 1,155 millimetres and offers a viewing space of 1,210 × 780 millimetres.
The Rapid Spaceback’s panoramic roof appears even more attractive in combination with the elongated rear window. The glazing area then extends all the way from the windshield over the glass roof down to the tailgate. The black tinted, extended rear window reaches roughly ten centimetres farther into the hatchback than the Rapid Spaceback’s regular rear window. These are the Rapid Spaceback’s two distinct new style elements giving it exclusive individuality.
The rear end emphasises the sporty character of the Rapid Spaceback. Its lines are crisp and clear. A black diffuser element and the reflectors in the bumper underline the horizontal orientation as well as the broad tail lights in brand-typical ’C’ design. The centrally-placed brand logo is flanked by the ŠKODA lettering on the left and the RAPID model name on the right.
The ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback’s front design includes the characteristic Rapid elements: a prominent grille with 19 vertical slats and a chrome frame, the ŠKODA logo on the rounded front end of the hood, the cloverleaf arrangement of the headlights and fog lights. The Rapid Spaceback comes with an optional xenon package immediately from market launch. This includes xenon headlamps as well as fog lamps with cornering light function.
Spacious, attractive interior – ’Simply Clever’ to the core
"With its attractive combination of space, functionality, and design, the Rapid Spaceback is a new offer in the compact car segment. This is a very spacious vehicle that represents one of our brand’s key values," says Werner Eichhorn, ŠKODA board member for sales and marketing. "As is typical of ŠKODA, the Rapid Spaceback’s interior sets a new standard in its class," says Eichhorn. Though the exterior of the new Rapid Spaceback measures 18 centimetres less than the Rapid limousine, passenger space is just as generous as in the car’s ’big brother’: The rear of the Rapid Spaceback offers the largest legroom (64 millimetres) and the largest headroom (980 millimetres) in its segment. At 415 litres, or 1,380 litres when the rear seat is folded down, boot volumes are among the best in the segment.
Numerous ’Simply Clever’ solutions complement this generous space: The new Rapid Spaceback has a double cargo floor in the boot, which can divide the space into two horizontal levels providing double utility. Furthermore, the Rapid Spaceback offers all the practical features we are familiar with from the Rapid. This includes the ice scraper in the centrally lockable fuel filler flap and holder for the warning vest under the driver seat, the double-sided floor cover in the boot and the waste bin in the side door. Other examples include a ticket holder, a multimedia holder, cup holders in the front and rear, and the parcel shelf that can be stowed behind the rear seats.
The interior of the new Rapid Spaceback also boasts a sporty 3-spoke steering wheel, stylish trim strips and freshly designed seat covers.
Safety without compromises
The new ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback offers the high safety standards that have come to be expected of ŠKODA. A comprehensive safety package protects passengers in case of an accident. This includes front, side and head airbags, height-adjustable three-point safety belts with pre-tensioners in the front and height-adjustable head restraints. In EU countries, the ABS (Antilock Braking System) and ESC (Electronic Stability Control) systems are standard. Other active safety features are optional xenon headlights, tyre pressure control, fog lamps with cornering function and the ’hill-hold control’ assistant.
The Rapid Spaceback is the first in the Rapid model series to be equipped with Column-Electric Power Steering (C-EPS). Until now, the Rapid was equipped with electro-hydraulic power steering. The electro-mechanical power steering is speed-dependent. In the C-EPS, the driver’s steering motions are supported by a program-controlled electric servo motor on the steering column. The hydraulics unit that was used thus far, as well as the servo-pump, hoses, and hydraulic fluid, are no longer needed. Some of the key advantages include better steering behaviour, less weight and less required space.
Four petrol, two diesel engines
In Europe, the new ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback will be available with four petrol and two diesel engines at market launch. These advanced power plants put out between 55 and 90 kW. The 66 kW 1.6 TDI celebrates its premiere in the Rapid model series with the Rapid Spaceback’s market launch and completes the current diesel engine 77 kW 1.6 TDI. In the GreenLine version with this engine, the Rapid Spaceback uses a mere 3.8 l per 100 km, CO2 emissions amounting to 99 g/km. And the 66 kW 1.6 TDI can also be combined with automatic seven-speed DSG transmission. All TSI and TDI engines are also available in the economical Green tec versions.
Four power trains are used for petrol engines. The three-cylinder 55 kW 1.2 MPI and two four-cylinders 1.2 TSI (63 kW and 77 kW) are available with manual transmission. The strongest petrol engine is the 90 kW 1.4 TSI, which is offered with a seven-speed DGS transmission.
The largest model offensive in company history
The ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback expands the brand’s offer in this class between the Fabia and Octavia models. The ŠKODA Rapid has been a success in the Indian market since late 2011, and in the European markets for nearly a year. ŠKODA recently started building and selling the car in China as well. To date (31 July 2013), 75,000 Rapids have been sold.
The ŠKODA Rapid Spaceback is the latest innovation as part of the largest model offensive in ŠKODA’s 118-year history. Over the coming years, the brand plans to overhaul its entire model range and expand into additional segments. On average, one new or re-engineered vehicle will be introduced to the market every six months. This model offensive is the core of the ŠKODA Growth Strategy 2018, by which year ŠKODA sales are to rise to at least 1.5 million per year.