Skoda has announced a new Focus-sized hatchback, called the Rapid.

Clearly Skoda is no longer embarrassed by its heritage – the last Skoda Rapid was one of the very last Soviet-era rear engined models (and actually the only pre-VW Skoda which was actually not bad to drive). This one is an exceptionally sharply styled hatchback that will fit between the Fabia and the Octavia.
The Rapid is looks very sharp from the front and the side, although it is a little tall from the back (yes, we're afraid your bum does look big in white). It is clearly an evolution of the recent Skoda Vision D concept. We talked to a Skoda Director recently and he said the styling of modern Skodas is all about creating classic, timeless shapes that still look good after five or ten years. The fact that the now-ancient Octavia still looks decent is a testament to this approach.

The Rapid will be shown publicly at the Paris Motor Show in the autumn before going on sale around the end of this year. There will be five petrol and two diesel engines available, which are likely to mirror the mainstream engines from the Golf range.

The launch of the Rapid suggests that the next Octavia is going to have to be a lot bigger, as the current Octavia is less than 10 cm longer and has an almost identical wheelbase. Thus expect the next Octavia to be closer to a Passat in size.