While Skoda might be chasing SUV sales with its Kodiaq and forthcoming Karoq, it’s not forgotten that a smaller number of buyers want nothing more than a sensible hatchback. An even smaller number want one that’s a bit bigger than a Fabia but a little smaller than an Octavia, which is where this Rapid model fits in.

After four years on sale, it gets its first nip and tuck to keep it fresh, but it’s tough to spot what’s changed; there are new headlights and taillights, and the front bumper has been revised. Step inside and there’s more going on, with a redesigned instrument binnacle and a revised centre stack with easier to use heating and ventilation controls, and an improved infotainment screen.

The changes are the same on the Rapid (this model, that looks like a saloon but is a hatchback) and the Rapid Spaceback (a hatchback that looks a little like an estate but actually has less room in it) and they both share the same chassis, which hasn’t been updated. There’s a new 101g/km 1.0-litre petrol engine that’s both fun and frugal, but the 1.4-litre three-cylinder and 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engines continue for those wanting to burn less fuel. And it certainly does sip at the fuel, seemingly unwilling to burn any more than is absolutely necessary. The result is an impressive 57.6mpg, which was achieved while testing the Rapid on its launch event, which included a fair bit of enthusiastic driving around some rolling hills. Officially 72.4mpg is achievable on the combined cycle, but you’ll need a light right foot to achieve anywhere near those figures.

While the parsimonious nature of the engine impresses, what doesn't is its refinement. Loud and grumbly at idle, it makes a racket under acceleration. The three-cylinder unit also generates a lot of vibration, and these can be felt clearly through both the pedals and the steering wheel. Push hard and performance is just about acceptable, but it’s no rocket ship, and while corners don’t present a problem, the steering is entirely bereft of feel. If driving excitement is your thing, then you’ll need to look elsewhere.

What’s left is a wonderfully practical car. The hatchback-that-looks-like-a-saloon lifts up to reveal 550 litres of space – that’s 75 per cent more space than can be found in a Ford Focus – and that expands to a Volvo XC60-beating 1,490 litres with the rear seats down. Those rear seats can accommodate two adults with ease and won’t have any trouble with three children, with plenty of head and legroom, but perhaps not so much shoulder space. In the front seats, there’s an impressive amount of space, with enough room to sit in comfort, although space around the pedals is limited for those with larger feet. The dashboard lacks much in the way of design flair, but could be said to be elegantly understated. The plastics feel like they’ve been improved, but are still at the cheaper end of the range, although the strength of construction and longevity is undoubtedly top notch. Equipment levels are promised to be high, with this European-specification test car even coming fitted with in-car WiFi, and Skoda’s ‘Simply Clever’ philosophy extends to convenience features like extra USB ports in the rear and an ice scraper hidden in the fuel filler flap.

Taking a look at the Rapid, and it sits in a slightly awkward place. It isn’t as good to drive as the larger Octavia, but also costs significantly less, while offering very similar levels of real-world practicality. But the biggest fly in the ointment is in those costs, where an Octavia is likely to cost around £35 per month more expensive, if funded by a Personal Contract Plan (PCP), and we think that it is probably worth scraping together the extra to purchase the vastly superior car. That said, for taxi drivers that want maximum space for minimum outlay, or for those purely buying a car for rational reasons, and totally ignoring emotions, the Rapid offers a blend of attributes that few budget rivals can match.