All-new Skoda Scala will replace ageing Rapid hatch, transforming into a genuine Volkswagen Golf alternative
Skoda has confirmed the name of its all-new Rapid replacement. The Skoda Scala, which means ‘stairway’ or ‘ladder’ in Latin, will launch before the end of the year, taking the fight to the forthcoming Volkswagen Golf Mk8. Skoda says the Scala will allow the brand to reach “new heights”.
Bernhard Maier, chairman of the board of Skoda said: “With the new Skoda Scala we are proposing a new chapter in the compact class of Skoda. It is a completely new development that sets standards in terms of technology, safety and design in this class. We are confident that Scala has the best chance to redefine the segment for Skoda.”
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Following on from the Vision RS concept displayed at the Paris Motor Show in October, a selection of teaser images preview the profile, bootlid and badge of the production version, which will be revealed in full before the end of 2018.
The firm’s family hatchback is poised to transform from a cheap and cheerful offering into a genuine rival for the Golf and Ford Focus, while still occupying a clear space between the Fabia and Octavia saloon. To mark the significance of the change, the new model will take on brand-new ‘Scala’ nameplate.
Like the Vision RS concept, the new model will take on a traditional two box five door hatchback profile. The light clusters appear to be sharper and slimmer than on many recent Skodas, which suggests that the production model will stay faithful to the concept. It’s possible to spot the trademark Skoda bonnet shut line at the front. A the rear, the Rapid Spaceback’s glass tailgate will be carried over, with bold Skoda lettering running left to right.
The existing Rapid has suffered poor sales outside of Skoda’s home market in the Czech Republic. Equally, while the Octavia has been a success, the car’s extra length over conventional family hatchbacks has put off some buyers.
Central to this is the realignment of the Rapid Spaceback, away from a value-orientated proposition with cheaper materials and towards a more conventional family hatchback. The current edition sits on a modified version of the VW Group’s PQ26 platform, but its successor will use the MQB A0 set-up designed for smaller cars, such as the SEAT Ibiza and VW T-Roc, plus the next generation of Skoda’s own Fabia.
Crucially, though, Skoda has secured the right to use a longer version of MQB A0 than anything else within the VW Group, and this will support two new cars: the next Rapid, and the crossover previewed by the Vision X concept displayed at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. That car is said to be a close preview of the production model, which could be called Amiq or Anuq.
As such, the Vision X’s wheelbase is deeply significant, because at 2,645mm, it’s 25mm longer than the current Golf’s. Assuming the next Rapid shares these dimensions, it should have enough cabin space to be a proper family car, and hefty improvements in interior quality should transform it into a genuine sister vehicle for the Octavia, instead of feeling like a stablemate to the Fabia.
The engine line-up for the next Rapid will comprise the VW Group’s latest petrol motors, including a 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit with everything from 84bhp to 109bhp, and a 1.5-litre motor with up to 148bhp.
A 1.6-litre diesel is likely to feature in the line-up, too, plus it’s conceivable that the car could be offered with a mild-hybrid petrol-electric set-up that uses a 48V-powered belt-driven starter-generator to lower CO2 emissions.
Alain Favey, Skoda’s global sales and marketing boss, confirmed at Geneva that the marque is taking a different approach with the next Rapid. “Despite what is happening with SUVs, family hatchbacks are a sector that is very important; still the heartland of the European market, I would say,” he said.
“Right now our position in this market is extremely weak, it has to be said, because of the current Rapid Spaceback. So you will see next year that we will launch a new Rapid into this segment.
“It will sit alongside the crossover previewed by Vision X, but we’re really working hard on ensuring that it appeals to a different type of customer. We think we should be able to get some more traction into this ‘Golf’ segment.”
He added: “There is a gap – right between Fabia and Octavia – that we have been trying to fill with Spaceback, and it hasn’t been doing very well. We really think with the car coming next year that we can do this better.
“The Octavia has a saloon profile, at least, and it should remain that way, but that leaves space for an obvious family hatchback, above the Fabia but below the Octavia. That’s what we are working on.”
The new Rapid will also allow Skoda to nudge the Octavia slightly further upmarket. It’s believed that CEO Bernard Maier is taking a personal interest in the next generation of the car, due in 2020, and that it will get a more sophisticated cabin and introduce a few new technologies to the Skoda brand.
What does the Skoda Rapid replacement have to beat? This is our list of the top 10 hatchbacks currently on sale…
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