PARIS -- Skoda has unveiled a concept previewing the next-generation Rapid compact car in sporty RS form.
The Vision RS, which will be revealed at the Paris auto show on Tuesday, is powered by a 245-hp plug-in hybrid drivetrain that demonstrates how the technology could be utilized to create a future performance model, the brand said.
The new Rapid, due next year, will be pitched further upmarket compared with the current budget Rapid to create a more credible rival for cars such as the Ford Focus.
"I think the problem of the current Rapid is maybe it's too low market. Maybe we went too far toward value for money. With this one we tried to balance it out," Bjorn Kroll, head of product marketing and the brand's commercial leader on electric cars, said at a preview of the concept ahead of the show.
The concept's plug-in hybrid drivetrain combines a 150-hp 1.5-liter gasoline turbo engine with a 102-hp electric motor. The two systems don’t develop peak power at the same time, which is why the maximum output is not 252 hp.
The car will accelerate from 0-100 kph (62 mph) in 7.1 seconds, and reach a top speed of 201 kph, the brand said. The 13 kilowatt-hour battery gives a range of 70 km (43 miles), compared with 50 km in the discontinued Golf GTE from Skoda's sister brand, Volkswagen.
Skoda is planning to offer 10 electrified cars, both plug-in hybrids and battery-electric models, between now and 2025. The first plug-in hybrid will be the Superb midsize due next year, with the Rapid likely to follow. The full-electric Citigo also arrives next year, followed in 2020 by Skoda's first model to use parent VW Group's MEB electric-car platform.
The new Rapid will be engineered for Europe on VW Group's small-car MQB A0 platform. The current model uses a version of the low-cost PQ platform. The more upmarket focus for the model is reflected in the design of the concept, which uses cues from the current Rapid but increases the desirability.
"Today's Rapid has more or less the same architecture [look] but is less emotional. This is more confident. We have brand new curvature and nice shoulders, so it's more beefy," Skoda's head of design Oliver Stefani said at the preview.
The basic shape of the concept's interior will also make it to production, Stefani said. He pointed to the stepped line across the dashboard with a cut-out for the floating dash screen as one element that will be in the production car.
The Vision RS measures 4,356mm long, 1,810mm wide and 1,431mm high, Skoda said. That makes the concept at 50mm longer than the current Rapid Spaceback. The longer notchback version will not be produced for Europe again. The Octavia hatchback is also classed as a compact but is much longer at 4,670mm.
Skoda sold 35,206 of both Rapid models in the first half of this year across Europe, down 2.7 percent on the year before, figures from JATO Dynamics show.
The Vision RS also indicates Skoda will put a stronger emphasis on the RS performance sub-brand (vRS in the UK, because Ford has trademarked the RS brand there). Skoda said RS accounts for around a fifth of Octavia sales in the UK and Germany. Currently RS is only offered on the Octavia, but Skoda is using Paris to show a production RS version of the Kodiaq midsize SUV.
Marc Brinkmann, Skoda’s head of marketing, said: "We definitely stand for value for money and we don't want to abandon that but we want to increase the emotional side and for that we need new models, such as SUVs but also RS models."