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Paris show: Skoda gets Rapid

Ready to roll: Skoda’s fast-growing Australian subsidiary will get its proverbial hands on the new Rapid from the middle of next year.

Sharp new Skoda Rapid small car points the way to the Czech brand’s future


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1 Oct 2012


SKODA revealed its new global design language with the Rapid five-door small car at the Paris motor show, and the company plans to launch it in Australia in mid-2013.

To be sold in Europe from next month, the Rapid is expected to be a strong player in the small car market against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, and it will also further expand the Czech brand’s growing presence in Australia.

Skoda head of design Jozef Kaban – a 20-year VW Group veteran whose resume includes designing the remarkable Bugatti Veyron “a long time ago” – told GoAuto at the show the new design language on the Rapid would carry through into future models.

“I wanted an uncluttered design that was clear and fresh, timeless and elegant,” the Slovak native said at the show.

“The front of the car has clear, prominent shapes to give the effect of width and a strong stance on the road. The Skoda badge in the bonnet is the only exception to this horizontalness.”

Skoda chief executive officer Winfried Vahland described the new Rapid with its large boot as being like a wagon, but also like a hatchback and even a coupe.

He said the car – which revives an old Skoda nameplate – was dimensionally similar to the original Octavia, which it now sits under, and was “a real Skoda with lots of room for family and friends”.

“The Skoda Rapid is the new class of Skoda in every respect, setting standards in the compact segment in terms of space, design, practicality and price-value ratio,” said Mr Vahland.

“This car will become our largest-volume model after the Octavia and will give us a strong tailwind on international markets.

“Both the Rapid’s concept and package are typically Skoda: convenient, clever, chic and reliable.

“For a compact saloon, the Rapid is extraordinarily flexible and can be said to have qualities like those of an estate. This car is sure to make a strong impression in the segment on European markets.”

Mr Vahland said global Skoda sales were up 8.5 per cent this year, the brand having set a record in August and being on track for another in September.

He said Skoda would launch a new model every six months in the coming years as the brand aimed to sell 1.5 million cars a year and that the Rapid was “very important in this growth path”.

Skoda Australia public relations manager Karl Gehling said he was very excited about the prospects for the Rapid, but would not indicate sales expectations or a price range for the car, only that it would arrive in the middle of next year.

“It’s a really important model for Skoda,” said Mr Gehling.

“It’s got a great opportunity because it brings together all the really great features of Skoda models in terms of being very hot value, and very practical for a small car as it offers exceptional interior space.

“We think it will stand out in the market and it will be a very competitively priced small car, but it’s too early to give an indication.

“We’re very happy with Skoda. It’s starting to get better awareness and much stronger as a brand.

“It makes it easier as you get to a certain point where it generates its own publicity because of the number of vehicles on the road. Our fleet has grown – last month we got over 10,000 in the country, so that makes it a lot easier going forward.”

Mr Gehling said the VW Group Australia strategy for Skoda as a new brand to the country had been all about brand awareness, and continues to be the priority.

“Because of its very limited history in Australia, it’s all about educating consumers about what Skoda is and the value that it brings to the market and where it fits into the Volkswagen Group.

“It was never going to be easy because Australia is such an incredibly competitive market and it keeps getting more competitive as new brands come into the market, but Skoda is now in a much stronger position with a few years under its belt.”

Skoda will launch the Rapid in Europe with a choice of four petrol and three diesel engines, mated to five and six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmissions.

Three of the petrol units have 1.2 litre capacities (a 55kW three-cylinder base engine and a pair of four-cylinders), while the top model is powered by a 1.4-litre four-cylinder producing 90kW of power and 200Nm of torque.

Combined fuel economy ranges from 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres to 5.9L/100km.

The three turbo-diesels are 1.6-litre four-cylinder units producing from 66kW/230Nm to 77kW/250Nm and returning between 3.9 and 4.4L/100km.

Loosely based on the VW Polo, the Rapid is 4480mm long, 1710mm wide and 1460mm tall, while the 550-litre boot is said to be the biggest in its class.

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