It may look an awful lot like the Skoda Rapid Spaceback at a first glance, but this five-door hatch is an entirely new car. Built on the Volkswagen Group’s flexible MQB platform, the compact car is bigger than the model we’ve mentioned and is set to be a more upscale product once it will come out next year. When the camouflage will come off, it will replace both the regular Rapid liftback and the fancier Spaceback.

Even though the prototype was seen for the first time just about a week ago, Skoda is already testing the Rapid replacement with what appears to be the full production body and lights. It means the official premiere is closer thank you might think, with recent reports indicating it will take place early next year. To further emphasise it basically won’t have anything in common with the current Rapid models, the Czech marque is going to give it a new name.

An RS version might already be in the works

The company’s sales and marketing boss, Alain Favey, has revealed the Rapid will be transformed into a “real Golf contender” and that there will be major differences between the new model and Skoda’s best-selling car, the Octavia. With the test driver pushing the prototype to its limits, we’re getting the feeling the new compact car will be a lot nicer to drive than the rather numb Rapid available nowadays in showrooms across Europe.

Giving it sharper handling while boosting comfort and the increasing the level of onboard tech are some of the ingredients Skoda is using to push the Rapid successor’s upmarket in a bid to go after the Golf and Focus. Speaking of making the car more exciting, at next month’s Paris Motor Show, we will get to see the Vision RS concept, which everyone is saying acts as a sneak preview of an RS-badged hot hatch based on the new compact model.

Video: Automedia

Gallery: 2020 Skoda Rapid successor first spy photos