Skoda Rapid Spaceback (2014-2018)


Models Covered

(5 door Hatch; 1.2, 1.4 petrol / 1.4 TDI, 1.6 TDI [S,SE Tech, SE Sport,Elegance])


Skoda's ordinary Rapid model launched in 2012 may have been a five-door hatch but it’s wasn’t a very conventional one. This separate Rapid Spaceback model launched in 2013 though, was much closer to the kind of thing that buyers in the Focus-sized family hatchback segment were expecting – the most class-competitive model the brand had yet bought us. It’s bigger inside than most of its rivals from this period, plus was more affordable and better equipped. In short, used buyers should try one before simply opting for another Focus, Astra or Golf from this time. You might well be tempted.

The History

If ever emphasis was needed of the importance of the Focus-sized family hatchback segment in the current market, this model provided it for back in 2013, it was Skoda’s second offering in this sector. A year previous to this car’s arrival, the brand had provided this class with its standard Rapid model. This Rapid Spaceback joined that design in the company’s showrooms and together, these two cars aimed to more effectively bridge the gap in the Czech maker’s model range between the supermini-sized Fabia and the larger Mondeo-sized Octavia.

The reason why Skoda needs a couple of Focus-class models is two-fold. I’ve already mentioned the issue of age demographic – Skoda needs to court younger buyers while continuing with products that satisfy older ones. But there’s also the question of conventionality. The standard Rapid hatch, launched late in 2012, has saloon-like looks that run contrary to buyer expectations in this class. And it’s not really designed to suit those in search of a bit of extra flair in this segment. People in search of, well…. maybe something like this.

The ‘Spaceback’ name might lead you to expect some sort of estate car – or at the very least, a variant with a bit more room than the standard Rapid model. In fact, this car is slightly more compact than its stablemate and the name is merely Skoda-speak for the kind of more familiar bodystyle more likely to appeal to the kind of buyer wanting a better value alternative to their usual Golf, Astra or Focus. It finally gave the brand a credible mainstream presence in this segment – and sold until it was replaced by the Scala in Spring 2019.

What You Get

At first glance, it’s not immediately obvious that all the stylists did here is to graft a more universally acceptable rear end onto the existing Rapid hatch. The ‘Spaceback’ name is perhaps a piece of ironic Czech humour given that in actual fact, ‘space in the back’ has necessarily had to be reduced in comparison to the ordinary Rapid, due to this model’s shorter length. Hence a reduction in luggage capacity from 550 to 415-litres. And in the back? Well Skoda claimed the length reduction of this car over its standard stablemate had no impact on rear passenger accommodation and sure enough, when you enter through the wide-opening doors, you’ll find the same comfortable space for two adults provided – though, as with any car in this class, three would be a squash. Headroom, as we suggested earlier, is aided by this Spaceback model’s extended roofline and one adult six-footer can easily sit behind a driver of the same height, which can’t be said of too many cars in this segment.

At the wheel, 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. Nothing then to especially catch the eye, but everything perfectly in its place.

What to look for

Most Rapid Spaceback customers in our buyers’ survey seemed pretty satisfied, but inevitably, there were a few issues. Check the alloy wheels for scratches and also check for any damage to the bodywork and bumpers, because paint and body repairs can be pricey. The Rapid uses a number of cheaper plastics in the interior that are generally tough but may be scratched, so have a check for damage. If your Rapid Spaceback features a diesel engine, it’ll be fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). This means that the car will need to be taken on regular motorway journeys to ensure that the DPF can regenerate, because this process is only triggered at high speeds. Check how the previous owner has used the car if you are unsure.

On The Road

And under the bonnet? Well there isn’t really a bad choice to make here, given that the feeble three cylinder 75PS petrol engine that props up the standard Rapid range wasn’t offered to Spaceback buyers. Otherwise, the two cars are identical beneath the bonnet, almost all buyers choosing either 1.2-litre TSI petrol power or a 1.6-litre TDI diesel. A 1.4 TDI was also offered. The petrol option comes in either 86 or 105PS guises and would be our personal pick. The pokier of the two units improves the 0-62mph sprint time from 11.7s to 10.2s and raises the academic top speed from 112 to 120mph. We’d also point out that this 105PS 1.2 TSI variant is the only model in the range to be fitted with six rather than five speeds in its manual gearbox, which makes the car that bit more relaxed on motorway trips. At the top of the petrol line-up, there’s a 122PS 1.4-litre petrol TSI model that manages 9.4s and 126mph, but that has to be had with a less efficient 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox.

You can get that same auto ‘box as an option on a 1.6-litre TDI diesel Rapid Spaceback. Here again, there’s a choice of tune, either 90 or 105PS. The faster unit reduces the 0-62mph sprint time from 11.9s to 10.3s and ups the maximum speed from 113 to 118mph. Only the lower-powered variant though, can be found in super-frugal Greenline guise. The TDI powerplant certainly gives you more pulling power (there’s a hefty 250Nm of torque), but then it needs it thanks to the additional heaviness this engine adds to a kerb weight that on petrol models is significantly lighter than on other family hatchback rivals. If you can stick with the petrol TSI, you’ll get yourself a car that’s actually quite agile through the twisty stuff if you really need it to be. You just won’t find yourself seeking excuses to put that to the test.


This more conventional Rapid Spaceback model was a much easier sell for Skoda than the ordinary Rapid model. It won’t suit those always yearning for a spirited drive but otherwise, its list of attributes ought to be enough to earn a place on your family hatchback shortlist. After all, this car’s more affordable than most of its rivals – and more spacious too. Think of it as a much more affordable take on something like an Audi A3 Sportback and you’ll probably have summed up for yourself what this car’s really all about. Younger buyers will like that. So will older ones. Both groups then, have reason to try a Skoda. Just as the brand intended.