Skoda is set to replace the slow-selling Skoda Rapid with a new model that’ll rival the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus when it arrives in 2019.
The new hatchback model is understood to represent a direct alternative to the Skoda Octavia, with a sportier style that’ll appeal to younger, more fashion-conscious buyers. Previewed by the Skoda Vision RS concept that was seen in sketch form earlier this year. The concept depicts a far more distinctive, sculpted form than the current Skoda Rapid, without significantly changing in size.
Skoda has now released an official teaser image that closes the gap between the concept and production car. It seems to confirm that the production model – still unnamed – has rear lights of a similar shape to the concept, but a less angular shape to the side glass. The silhouette has SUV overtones, while a roof spoiler lends a sporty touch. There’s also evidence of an LED signature to the headlights, and a subtle character line over the front wheelarches – something we predicted in our renderings earlier this year.
2019 Skoda Rapid design and engines
Although Skoda has a range of fashionable SUVs with which to tempt car buyers away from conventional family cars, the Skoda Karoq and Skoda Kodiaq aren’t right for everybody. The launch of a replacement for the Skoda Rapid indicates that the Czech company is hedging its bets that demand for family hatchbacks won’t fade away completely.
Speaking at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, Alain Favey, Skoda’s global sales and marketing boss, said: “Despite what is happening with SUVs, family hatchbacks are a sector that’s very important; still the heartland of the European market, I would say… Right now, our position in this market is extremely weak, it has to be said, because of the current Rapid Spaceback. So you will see next year that we will launch a new Rapid into this segment.”
The new model will be based on the smallest AO version of Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform, and so will have much in common with the Audi A1 and Volkswagen Polo. The versatility of this chassis makes electrified and four-wheel-drive versions possible in the future.
The ‘fastback’ model is understood to be discontinued, leaving the Spaceback – previewed in these images – as the sole Rapid offering. It’s possible that the Spaceback name will be dropped, too. Skoda family-car buyers will then have a choice of the Octavia hatchback, Octavia Estate or Rapid, the latter having a less formal appearance than its more practical stablemates. Favey said: “The Octavia has a saloon profile, at least, and it should remain that way, but that leaves space for an obvious family hatchback, above the Fabia but below the Octavia. That’s what we’re working on.”
The VW Group’s latest petrol engines are likely to appear under the new model’s bonnet – the 1.0-litre three cylinder engine will range from 84 to 109bhp, while the 1.5-litre four cylinder will boast up to 148bhp. A 1.6-litre diesel is likely, and there’s a possibility that the group’s 48v electrified technology could make an appearance, reducing CO2 emissions through the use of a starter-generator.
Skoda Rapid price and on sale date
Skoda says that its new hatchback will make its first official public appearance before the end of 2018. It’s expected to go on sale late in 2019.
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