Skoda Rapid
SEAT Toledo


Debut: 2012
Maker: Skoda / SEAT
Predecessor: - / Toledo (2004)


 Published on 30 Jun 2012
All rights reserved. 


Volkswagen group used to differentiate its cars under different brands very well. You would not confuse a Seat Leon with VW Golf or Skoda Octavia because they look very different inside and outside. However, such careful handling of brand identity is being threatened by the group's aggressive expansion plan. In order to increase group sales to 10 million units by 2018, it has to add dozens of new models to enrich its product portfolio. This stretches its engineering power thin. A short-term solution is to go back to the route of badge-engineering. Last year, it introduced the trio VW Up, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii. This year comes the twins Skoda Rapid and Seat Toldeo. Save a little bit cosmetic differences, they are practically the same car.

At the first glance, the duo looks remarkably like the current Volkswagen Jetta, which reads dull and conservative. It might be acceptable to Skoda, but it is a sharp contrast to the last two generations Toledo and may raise many eyebrows in Spain. Never mind, while these cars are to be available to most European countries, their main focuses are on emerging markets. In particular, they will replace the workman-grade VW Jetta A2 and Santana in China. Customers there are supposed – at least in the eyes of Volkswagen – to be conservative. They prefer sedans to hatchbacks. Therefore the duo chose a 3-box body with a hatchback tailgate so that they can satisfy the Chinese taste while without losing connection with European customers.



Because they target at developing countries, cost reduction becomes especially crucial. They are not built on the platform of Jetta (PQ35) or the new Audi A3 (MQB) but the smaller Polo Mk5 (PQ25). Its front structure is basically the same as the Polo. Wheelbase is stretched by 130 mm to 2600 mm, whereas rear track is widened by 38 mm to accommodate a roomier back seat. Extended rear overhang realizes a huge boot measuring 550 liters, larger than many luxury limousines'. The Polo's small engines and twist-beam rear suspension guarantee low production cost. In the family tree, the Rapid is positioned above Fabia and under Octavia – the latter will get bigger in the next update. Meanwhile, the new Toledo slips in the gap between Ibiza and Leon.

Just like the exterior, the cabin is free of frills. Everything is simple and straightforward, with no intention to be stylish or interesting. Naturally, hard plastics are used everywhere, but at least they feel solid and well screwed together. Volkswagen's parts pool provides some quality switch gears. Cabin space is good for its size. It can accommodate four six-footers easily. As mentioned before, the boot is huge, and its access is made easy by the large tailgate. A pity the rear seat does not fold completely flat.



The Polo-sourced engines include a 75 hp 1.2-liter 3-cylinder, 1.2 TSI four-cylinder with either 85 hp or 105 hp, 1.4 TSI with 122 hp and 1.6 TDI diesel with either 90 hp or 105 hp. Pick of the range is the 105 hp 1.2 TSI, which is flexible, refined and cheap to run. That said, all engines except the smallest 3-pot are likeable. None of them are really quick, but then the duo are not supposed to be Polo GTI.

The handling is typical Volkswagen style, i.e. safe, predictable and easy to drive, if not very entertaining. The steering is accurate and well weighted. Body roll is well controlled. High speed stability is not lacking either. In the twisty, the cars feel reasonably nimble. On the down side, the slightly firm suspension loses composure on really bad surfaces – that's the impression on European car though, expect Chinese car will get softer suspension tuning. The cabin also lacks sound insulation to keep wind and road noise from annoying the occupants. These weaknesses separate the Skoda and Seat duo from the classier Volkswagen brand vehicles.



After all, the Rapid and Toledo are not supposed to please motorists in developed countries. They are worth looking just because they are significantly cheaper than the established European class leaders. Not even Korean cars can quite match their value for money. For that price, they are remarkably well engineered and built, so sacrificing a bit style, character or sophistication is reasonable I would say.

Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Rapid 1.2TSI
2012
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4483 / 1706 / 1461 mm
2602 mm
Inline-4
1197 cc
SOHC 8 valves
Turbo
DI
105 hp
129 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
185/60R15
1100 kg
121 mph (c)
9.8 (c)
-
Rapid 1.4TSI DSG
2012
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4483 / 1706 / 1461 mm
2602 mm
Inline-4
1390 cc
DOHC 16 valves
Turbo
DI
122 hp
147 lbft
7-speed twin-clutch
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
185/60R15
1161 kg
127 mph c)
8.9 (c)
-
Rapid 1.6TDI
2012
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4483 / 1706 / 1461 mm
2602 mm
Inline-4, diesel
1598 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG urbo
CDI
105 hp
184 lbft
5-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
185/60R15
1179 kg
118 mph (c)
10.0 (c)
-




Performance tested by: -




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Skoda Rapid


SEAT Toledo



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