Skoda’s ambitious Rapid Spaceback will split into two separate models next year, continuing the Rapid nameplate with a more conventional small hatchback while a separate compact SUV based on the same platform will be a new addition to Skoda’s slowly growing showroom.
Above: Skoda Karoq
With a slightly boosted ride height and wagon proportions relative to other small hatches, the Rapid Spaceback has, until now, tried to satisfy a broad spectrum of buyers. However, the impending mitosis will result in a two-car tag-team capable of targeting more specific customer bases – and capitalising on swelling demand for smaller SUVs.
At one end of the spectrum, the Skoda Rapid Spaceback will evolve into a more customary small hatchback about the size of a Volkswagen Golf, while a new model will morph into a more serious crossover, with slightly smaller proportions.
The strategy has been previously hinted at by the Czech brand in recent concepts. The Skoda Vision X which broke cover in Geneva this year was a precursor to the forthcoming SUV model, while the company’s Vision RS is a sneak peek at what its hatchback sibling may bring.
Speaking to WhichCar at the Paris motor show earlier this month, Skoda Rapid Spaceback product manager Thomas Besson-Magdelain confirmed timing for the pair of new models.
“New Spaceback will be approximately middle of next year, and the crossover in September next year,” he said.
To maximise Rapid Spaceback cabin space, Skoda stretched the company’s smallest MQB platform (A0) to its largest application yet, while the crossover sibling will offer a more compact option.
“It will be based on the MQB A0 platform, with more soft touch materials in the interior. More technology, you will have blind spot detection, connected navigation, lane assistant, parking assistant. On the A0 crossover we will have the door edge protection like the Kodiaq.”
Besson-Magdelain revealed that the SUV breakaway model will not continue the Rapid nameplate and will instead align more closely with the Karoq and Kodiaq SUV family members. That linearity is also likely to bring a new ‘K’ Moniker in Skoda ranks as is recently typical for the SUV models.
“It will be a totally different name,” he said. “I think it will be that for the A0 crossover. Normally K name but it’s not official.”
While many concepts fail to deliver interesting showcar features for their respective production versions, Besson-Magdelain confirmed the cool illuminated badges which made their debut in each concept will prevail in showroom versions of each new model when they roll out next year.
“It will be the same,” he said. “On crossover you will have it on the front – back and front for crossover, only back for Spaceback.”
The company’s proliferating fully digital instrument cluster will also be available in some versions, said Besson-Magdelain.