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Super-frugal Skoda Rapid Spaceback hardly taxing choice

07:04 14 August 2014

Skoda Rapid Spaceback is even more frugal with launch of Greenline diesel version.

Skoda Rapid Spaceback is even more frugal with launch of Greenline diesel version.

PA

A few tweaks to the value-packed Rapid Spaceback to make every gallon of diesel go further takes Skoda back to the good old days, says Matt Kimberley of the Press Association.

What’s new?

We’ve seen the Rapid Spaceback and Skoda’s GreenLine fuel-saving efforts in the likes of the Octavia and now the two have been put together. This becomes the cleanest, greenest Rapid Spaceback and, with CO2 emissions of 99g/km, it’s aimed at the road tax-averse. Company car drivers – Skoda’s looking at you.

Looks and image

Skoda Rapid Spaceback GreenLine

Price: £17,195

Engine: 1.6-litre, 89bhp, four-cyliner turbo diesel

Transmission: Five-speed manual driving the front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 11.9 seconds; top speed 115mph

MPG: 74.3 combined

CO2 emissions: 99g/km

You’d need a sharp eye to spot the differences that mark the GreenLine out from standard Rapids, but since the Rapid Spaceback is a nicely-proportioned, Germanically-stylish car, that’s no problem. It’s never going to enjoy the more premium image of the larger, pricier Octavia, what you see here is a return to the days when Skodas represented a lot of car for not a lot of money.

Space and practicality

The hidden beauty of developing internal combustion technologies is there’s nothing added that could steal boot space or cut legroom. The Spaceback has a luggage bay roughly as large as anything else in the class, and a light sprinkling of ‘Simply Clever’ treatments like a parking ticket holder and an ice scraper.

What you don’t get, to save on weight and precious CO2 points, is a spare wheel – not even a space-saver. In an age where fewer and fewer people change their own wheels after a puncture anyway, maybe it doesn’t matter.

Behind the wheel

The 1.6-litre diesel engine has never been the quietest, but lately cars like the Golf and Octavia have silenced it with industrial-spec soundproofing. The Spaceback doesn’t have that – budget cuts – so the motor does rattle away when you put your foot down.

It’s not so tall-geared that it struggles to pull at all, sitting at just over 2,000rpm at 70mph, but nor is it what you’d call ‘strong like ox’. It’s simply functional enough not to disappoint, so it just goes about its business in the background. In this test I almost matched the claimed fuel economy figure, too, although I didn’t hit any traffic jams.

Value for money

And so we come to the ace up the Rapid Spaceback’s sleeve. At £17,195 it’s more than £5,000 cheaper than the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion but is technically less advanced than that car with a lesser suite of fuel-saving measures. It’s the underdog and no worse for that.

There’s a catch, of course. The Rapid Spaceback S on which the GreenLine is based is £1,055 cheaper, and aside from a few lost miles per gallon is very similar. You pays your money, you takes your choice.

Who would buy one?

The raison d’etre here is low running costs, not necessarily lowest purchase price. Drivers who rate the former as more important than the latter will pick the Spaceback GreenLine because it looks great and is as tax-friendly as diesel cars get. Company car user-choosers will have a field day.

And parents who just want to keep fuel costs down might consider this model, but in reality they’re likely to be better off over three or four years by plumping for a slightly less economical but cheaper Spaceback. Doing the maths is essential.

This car summed up in a single word – honest.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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