The collection of Chinese-built Skodas officially increased to four items on April 18 as Shanghai-Volkswagen (SVW) released the Rapid. Available in three trim levels–Active, Ambition, and Elegand, the compact sedan is priced between 79,900-116,900 Yuan (US$12,927-18,927), and thus noticeably cheaper than its two siblings, the re-designed Jetta from FAW-Volkswagen and Santana from SVW.
Built on VW’s PQ25 platform and slotted between Skoda Fabia and Octavia, the Rapid has a 2603mm wheelbase, same as that of the Jetta and Santana. Powertrain choices are also shared among the three: 1.4L and 1.6L EA211 petrol engines paired to a 5MT or 6AT.
For its low pricing the Rapid gets a short list of standard features. On the Active level, only two airbags are installed, and passengers need to manually lower rear side windows. Models with an auto AC, ESP, and leather seats cost over 10,000 Yuan. .
In China the Rapid is shaped to be a sedan rather than a 5-door liftback as in other markets (although SVW considers introducing a hatchback version in 2014). The change is made in light of the local preference for proper three-box cars over vehicles of other body styles.
Last year China, with 236,000 deliveries, accounted for about 1/4 of Skoda’s global sales. By 2018, SVW plans to raise the share to 34%. In the second half of 2013, two new Skoda models will hit local showrooms, the imported Superb Combi and locally built Yeti mini SUV.
The Rapid is produced, together with VW Polo and Santana, in Yizheng, Jiangsu (while Superb, Octavia, and Fabia were all made in Anting, Shanghai). SVW targets 69,000 sales of the Rapid for 2013.