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Skoda sales at the double

Fun factor: Skoda Australia will introduce the Fabia RS hot hatch with a 132Kw turbo engine in May.

Another year of 100 per cent sales growth coming up for Czech brand Skoda

25 Jan 2012

CZECH brand Skoda is set to double its Australian sales for the second year in succession in 2012 as it transforms itself from quirky Volkswagen sub-brand to mainstream motoring company alongside its German parent.

And the growth is bound to continue in 2013, with the company's first small car – a Mazda3 competitor built on the Golf platform and rumoured to be called Rapid – and the Citigo city car - Skoda's version of the VW Up - destined to arrive on the scene and, in the case of the small car, give Skoda a shot at Australia's biggest market segment.

The new small car that was previewed as the MissionL concept in Frankfurt in September is a certainty for Australia where it will line up with the Octavia that is also set for a new generation next year.

The new small car is expected to go on sale in Europe later this year, but will not make it to Australia until 2013.

The arrival of the Fabia light car and Yeti compact SUV last year marked a major turning point for the brand in the final quarter, sending sales soaring to about 600 units a month.

29 center imageFrom top: Skoda Fabia, Yeti, Roomster, Citigo and MissionL concept.

The company ended 2011 with 3501 sales – 112 per cent up on the previous year when it was armed only with the mid-sized Octavia sedan, wagon and AWD Scout and slow-selling Superb large car.

Skoda Australia director Matthew Wiesner said the arrival of the Yeti and Fabia had expanded Skoda's reach into two of the biggest segments on the market.

He said he expected the momentum created by the two new models in the last few months of 2011 to continue into 2012, aided by a broadening of both ranges.

New for this year will be a mid-range 4x4 petrol Yeti, the 112 TSI, which he said would help target one of the biggest compact SUV volume markets.

The arrival of that model in March will be followed in May by three new Fabia variations – the Fabia Monte Carlo with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the hot Fabia RS – powered by VW's 132TSI petrol engine with the seven-speed DSG transmission – and the Fabia wagon, in petrol 77TSI guise with a choice of manual of DSG automatic transmission.

Also in May, Skoda is planning to revive the boxy Roomster light MPV, which Mr Wiesner said would be priced to please, giving it a much better chance than before it was discontinued in 2010.

He said Skoda dealers had continued to receive customer inquiry for Roomster, which reportedly will get a change of powertrain, adopting the same 77TSI turbo four-cylinder petrol engine as the Fabia.

Mr Weisner said the new Fabia wagon would fill a niche in the market, with few other small wagons on offer these days.

“It is going to be a bit of an X factor for us,” he said.

The only light wagon currently on sale is the Peugeot 207 Outdoor, in $26,990 1.6-litre petrol and $28,190 1.6-litre diesel forms.

In the small-car segment, the wagon variants come in the shape of the Peugeot 308 and 3008, Hyundai i30cw and VW Golf.

Mr Wisener said the Fabia RS would add fun factor to the range, and he expected the RS and Monte Carlo with the new DSG transmission to be the top-selling Fabia models, rather than the entry 77TSI five-door hatch, given the European appeal of the brand.

He said the entry level 2WD Yeti – the 1.2-litre 77TSI – would be used in some retail campaigns, helping to cover some passenger car gaps in the same way as Nissan uses its 2WD Dualis.

The new Yeti 4x4 variant – with the more powerful 112 TSI petrol engine – will slot between the 2WD base model and the top end 4x4 diesel Yeti, the $35,690 103TDI.

This means it will probably hit the showrooms about the $30,000 mark, although pricing will not be confirmed until launch in March.

Last year, Skoda expanded its Australian dealer network from 22 to 35 dealers, and it plans to add 10 more dealerships this year “as a minimum”, Mr Wiesner said.

Skoda has metropolitan open points in Adelaide and Sydney, but much of the expansion focus will be on major provincial cities where new models such as the Yeti SUV were generating more rural interest in the brand.

Globally, Skoda also has been going leaps and bounds, with sales up 15 per cent in 2011, to 875,000 cars.

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