Paris motor show reveal will hint at the next-generation Rapid, due in 2019, as well as future performance model styling
Skoda is preparing to launch a vRS plug-in hybrid version of its forthcoming Rapid hatchback.
The new performance version will be previewed at the Paris motor show with the Vision RS concept. Beneath the sporting detailing, the car also gives an idea of how the replacement for the current Rapid compact hatch will look. The new Rapid arrives next year, with a vRS version likely to follow a little later.
The concept’s hybrid drivetrain makes 245PS by combining the VW Group’s 150PS 1.5-liter turbocharged petrol engine with a 102PS electric motor. Skoda says “the vision is close to the reality” of the concept, meaning the production version is likely to come close to the performance figures of 7.1 seconds from 0-62mph and a top speed of 130mph.
The 13kw battery pack gives a battery-only range of 70km as measured on the outgoing NEDC cycle and helps cut CO2 to a claimed 33g/km, which should mean a production version would duck under 50g/km and allow it to be classed as an ultra-low emission vehicle.
Skoda is currently expanding its vRS range from just the Octavia to include the Kodiaq large SUV, which will be shown in production form with a twin-turbo diesel engine at the Paris show. The expansion stems from the success of the Octavia vRS, which in 2018 accounts for almost one in five Octavia sales in the UK, Skoda said. Skoda in the UK have to add the ‘v’ to the RS badge because Ford has trademarked RS in the UK.
Like all brands, Skoda is being forced to electrify to meet upcoming emissions legislation in Europe and China. A plug-in hybrid made the best sense for a sporty version, Bjorn Kroll, head of product marketing and the lead manager Skoda’s electrification programme, said. “If we want to electrify, then only plug-in hybrid makes sense if we want to add more power,” he said at a preview of the event. “It never works with standard hybrid.”
The concept makes a nod to its hybrid drivetrain with aerodynamic wheel covers and a similarly aerodynamic rear spoiler, both made in carbon fibre.
The Vision RS concept measures 4,356mm long, giving an indication of where the new Rapid will sit. The Octavia hatchback is much bigger at 4,670mm. Skoda said it has a boot space of 430 litres, which it said is bigger than the class average of 380 litres.
The new Rapid will sit on VW Group’s MQB A0 platform. The current car uses the brand’s lost PQ platform and is aimed a more value customer than next year’s model will be. “Maybe we focused too much on the money and not enough on the value with the current model,” Kroll said.
It will be the first Skoda to be based on this platform if it appears before the production version of the Vision X small SUV concept, and will be repositioned to avoid crossover with the Octavia in the C-segment hatchback market.
The most recent reveal follows Skoda’s earlier unveiling of interior sketches and exterior mock-ups of the forthcoming car.
The centre console is a “space-frame design with integrated shift-by-wire operation of the DSG” made entirely from carbon. Carbon is also used for door panels, seats and decorate elements.
The Vision RS is longer, narrower and lower than the current Rapid Spaceback and signposts what that model’s indirect hatchback replacement will look like on its arrival in early 2019. The liftback version of the current Rapid will not continue in the new generation.
Sales and marketing boss Alain Favey previously confirmed to Autocar that the upcoming Rapid will have “completely new technology, completely new styling”.
He added: “The Rapid is clearly a Golf rival in design, while the Octavia is a three-box hatch. The real Golf contender will be Rapid. You will not be able to be confused between the new Rapid and Octavia.”
The Vision RS also gives a hint at the styling of future, sporty RS models. The brand will soon launch its Kodiaq vRS and has suggested other possibilities in future, including a next-generation Fabia vRS and electric performance models, designated eRS.