In the previous instalment we looked at the first three incarnations of the Seat Toledo. In this article we ask what, precisely is the difference between a Seat Toledo and Skoda Rapid. And maybe make a few other points as well.
The current Toledo appeared in 2012 and replaced the unwelcomed Exeo. At the same time, Skoda launched their Rapid which shares all the main mechanicals and a good deal of the gross physical form. Both are made in the Skoda factory in Mlada Boleslav. The Toledo first: it’s a hatchback that looks like a saloon. You have to go up close to see the evidence, two small struts tucked into the c-pillar and a little piece of that special nylon string that one only ever sees holding up parcel shelves.
The engine range is rather different from the selection of meaty 1.6, 18 and 2.0 litre units that saw service in the Mk 1. The world now revolves around stressy, small-bore engines: 1 .2 MPI 3-cylinder, a 1.2 TSI 4 cylinder, and our old friend the 1.4. TSA (all please chant: “VW 1.4 litre TSI engine problems”). The largest capacity engine is the 1.6 TDI. What really matters is the power outputs: 75 PS, 85 PS, 105 PS and 122 PS respectively.
Dimensionally, the Rapid is 4,482 mm from nose to tail, 1,713 mm between the ears and 1,461 mm at its crown. Being a small saloony-looking car resulted in “Top Gear”, the British car-themed magazine programme, judged it as one of the worst cars available in 2014. Car magazine condemn it as an OAP special and label it “Steer Clear” in their GBU section.
In contrast, Auto Express considered it a good value if unsparkling proposition despite it being a development of the Fabia platform and not a member of the illustrious MQB group. It has a big boot, of course but also a jittery ride. Autocar’s verdict view is worth quoting: “The new Toledo is sensible to the point of making Hermione Granger seem louche. About as visually interesting as the inside of your eyelids, it is the automotive equivalent of a Bosch dishwasher: well made, utterly functional and entirely devoid of character. It takes the notion of quality white goods for the road and re-invents it on a level shared only by its badge-engineered sister, the Skoda Rapid.”
Of particular interest to us at DTW is weight. The Rapid is a bantam, at 1100 kilos but its not that small, 4.5 metres, as we said a few lines up. What does it cost? £12,495 says Auto Express.
Here’s the interior:
Now let’s look at the Skoda Rapid.
Josef Kaban had the unenviable task of trying to make the Rapid look different from the Toledo while also adhering to VAG’s rather restrictive form language of the time. Like the Toledo, the Rapid is a liftback which I consider to be a be a strategic mistake. One of the two cars ought to have been a saloon and since the Toledo had hatchy heritage and Skodas are bought by cautious private customers, a boot would have been in order. Dimensions?
4,483 mm from back to front; width: 1,706 mm across the beam; and the roof has an altitude of 1,461 mm. In case you are curious, that’s a 1mm, 7mm and 0mm of a difference between the cars. The engine line up is the same in gross terms and power outputs are the same too. How much do Skoda ask for all this distinction? £12,900 says Auto Express but £14,400 says Skoda UK as of today. So, the Skoda costs more than the Seat. What does it look like inside? It looks very like this…
To conclude, there seems the two cars differ as much as the left and right sides of Cynthia Myers’ embonpoint – which at the very least gives me some justification for the title of this article. On one level the Toledapid is quite a useful vehicle that does a simple job well. Both of them are quite nicely styled and in all probability nicely put together.
What is troubling (in a small way, in a world of big and woeful real troubles) is that there is one car too many here. If one of these cars had a different configuration or engine range or driving style it might make some sense. But VAG have gone to all the trouble of making two moderately different cars and failed to give customers a reason to choose one over the other or over any other similarly priced and sized machines. This is a real waste of SEAT and Skoda’s brand characters. One can only wonder.