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Beijing show: Skoda’s Rapid addition

On a mission: The Ford Focus-sized Skoda Rapid is previewed by the MissionL liftback concept.

Rapid locked in as the name for Skoda’s new small car to debut this year

Skoda logo25 Apr 2012

SKODA has confirmed speculation that the vital new small car previewed by the MissionL hatchback concept at last year’s Frankfurt motor show will be called the Rapid when it goes on sale globally later this year.

The name was announced by Skoda CEO Winfried Vahland at the Beijing motor show, where the Czech company displayed a specially modified version of the MissionL to be built and sold in China.

The nameplate is currently used on a compact Indian market Skoda sedan launched last November, but has also adorned a rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive coupe sold in Europe in the 1980s.

The crucial new model will slot into the car-maker’s ever-expanding global portfolio between the Fabia and Octavia, and will play a lead role in its ambitious plans to almost double global sales by 2018.

Mr Vahland said Skoda’s model expansion program would see a new vehicle introduced every six months on average in the coming years.

“The Rapid is our next new model,” he said. “It has a central importance for our growth and will provide us with a strong tailwind on international markets.”

These markets include Australia, where the small car segment is far-and-away the most popular.

Likely to arrive here in mid-2013, it will give the brand the ammunition to compete against mainstream players including the Mazda3, Ford Focus, Hyundai i30 and Holden Cruze, and the forthcoming Nissan Pulsar.

No other new information on the production version was revealed in Beijing, but we already know that the car, despite appearing to be a sedan, will actually be a liftback, while a wagon version is also a strong chance further down the line.

While not confirmed, it is likely that the car will be based on stretched Volkswagen Polo underpinnings rather than the more advanced and larger Golf platform.

The addition of the Rapid will also allow Skoda to substantially re-size the next version of the volume-selling Octavia that will debut globally in 2013.

Skoda Australia boss Matthew Wiesner previously said the company planned to grow the Octavia into a true medium-size car to better take on the likes of the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat.

Skoda also announced at the Beijing show that it would commence production of the Yeti in China from 2013 alongside a unique version of the Rapid.

China has been Skoda’s largest global market since 2010.

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