Brilliant Skoda does

it again

Skoda Rapid Spaceback, 2016, front
Skoda Rapid Spaceback, 2016, rear
Skoda Rapid Spaceback, 2016, interior
Skoda Rapid Spaceback, 2016, boot
Skoda Rapid Spaceback, 2016, rear seats
Skoda Rapid Spaceback, 2016, sat nav

PICKING up my daughter from a station 25 miles away late at night might not seem much fun - especially as it's just to save her money.

But one of the joys of driving in the later evening is that there's little or no traffic around.

And on roads I know well - having done the trip many times over the last few years - that means I can enjoy myself.

On this occasion I was driving the Skoda Rapid 1.6 diesel and it gave me a marvellous drive.

Others have said that this five door hatch doesn't ride as well as some of the competition. Hogwash. It's one of the most comfortable cars in the class. I have no idea what car they were driving, but it wasn't this one.

It rolls over every imperfection in the surface even on very rough roads and it takes speed humps brilliantly.

I drove the 115bhp diesel, which is very smooth all the way down to tickover and pulls cleanly away again.

It was fitted with the standard five speed gearbox and had enough urge in fifthfor most motorway manoeuvres.

But fourthis the gear for quick progress and overtaking. The engine is very impressive all round, pulling well from 1,200 revs and hard from 1,500.

It can be hugely enjoyable, with quick if rather linear acceleration through the gears in the way of even more powerful diesels.

And despite that excellent ride comfort, the designers have done it again and managed to obtain really good handling and road-holding, with well controlled roll and tremendous grip.

The tactile and positive steering has loads of feel helping towards excellent handling and very good balance.

It's also one of the largest cars in the class, in the Skoda tradition, and if you check it out against sister car the Audi A3, you will find it is a good deal more practical.

Economy is brilliant. I got 44mpg just tootling around town and on a long run it should be much better still.

Inside, everything is the usual Skoda sombre black. But everything is also just where it should be and the seats are comfortable and supportive.

The good looking dash has big tacho and speedo and proper fuel and temperature gauges, which I always like.

I drove the SE-L, which came with standard kit including parking sensors, climate, alloys, cruise, traction control, start stop, alarm, Bluetooth, audio remote control and 60/40 split fold rear seats.

This is another car that shows you should never buy one with sports suspension. You don't need it because it spoils an otherwise comfortable ride and does little to improve the handling.

FAST FACTS

Price:£19,570

Mechanical:113bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:125mph

0-62mph:10 seconds

Combined MPG:74

Insurance Group:17

C02 emissions:99g/km

Bik rating:19%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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