New Skoda Rapid saloon on the way

Skoda is on a roll and and is not sitting back on its laurels. It is resolutely pursuing its model offensive, presenting its new compact saloon, the Skoda Rapid.

This new four door follows the introduction of the Citigo city car, sister model to the Volkswagen Up.

Skoda boasts that it is aiming the Rapid especially at families looking for a roomy first car at an affordable price in Skoda’s familiar quality.

Skoda says its most recent addition will play a central role in the company’s growth strategy and the Rapid will be phased into European markets from the autumn of 2012.

The Rapid is spacious, wrapped in an expressive design, and Skoda says it will have an "excellent price-value ratio". That economist speak suggests it will be priced lower than immediate competitors and represent good value against those other cars. Skoda also promises a comprehensive safety specification and it will have efficient Volkswagen engines under the bonnet.

That said, the lower price point is not all explained by production costs in the Central Europe as opposed to say Hanover in northern Germany. The Rapid will boast a less expensive construction than other VW Group small cars. It will have a less complexed platform (a stretched VW Polo ) to the ‘MQB’ modular architecture that is underpinning models such as the new VW Golf and Audi A3. It will also have the less expensive torsion beam suspension than the more sophisticated multi-link configuration.

The four-door, five-seater Rapid is slightly longer than a Golf hatchback, but shorter than the 4.57m Octavia. However the latter is likely to grow again when the next generation arrives in 2013.

“This is a model which sets benchmarks in the compact saloon segment: The Skoda Rapid is a roomy, elegant and an affordable car for the whole family, impressing with clever solutions, cutting-edge technology and excellent economy. In short, it is a comfortable, reasonably priced and environmentally friendly package. The right car at the right time,” says Skoda CEO Winfried Vahland.

Skoda sees the Rapid as a perfect complement to the Fabia and the Octavia, making it at home in the large-volume compact segment. The Rapid will compete in the highly competitive A segment that currently accounts for about 36 per cent of the world’s automobile market. Within this class, saloons have a share of around 42 per cent. Industry experts estimate the number of cars of this type sold worldwide will rise by about 50 per cent by the year 2020.

The Rapid is the first Skoda series car to fully feature the brand’s newly formulated design language. “This is a car that gives out a clear statement at first glance: clear, precise, fresh and emotional,” says Eckhard Scholz, Skoda board member for technical development.

With perfect proportions, the front end displays a new take on Skoda-typical design elements. The new brand logo confidently stands out on the harmonically rounded front edge of the bonnet. The grille shows a finely drawn chrome frame and is formed by vertical slats.

This clever compact saloon provides room for five occupants and their baggage. Five petrol and one or two diesel engine are likely to be on offer. Expect to see the 1.6 litre with fuel economy of more than 60mpg. Or will the economical GreenLine model be powered by a 74bhp 1.2 litre three-cylinder turbo-diesel? This is one of the mysteries that remain. Watch this space.

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