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Skoda keen on SUV for Australia

Vision quest: Skoda’s Vision C concept previews the company’s next-gen design language but also could point to a future production model.

A large SUV and some more hot RS models could spice up Skoda’s local line-up

Skoda logo20 Mar 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

SKODA’S Australian arm is keen to expand its line-up beyond its current offerings, with the rumoured large Skoda SUV and a production version of the striking Vision C concept in its sights.

The Vision C concept, shown earlier this month at the Geneva motor show, was built as a design study to preview the company’s next-gen styling direction.

It also pointed to a possible future production model that would be a swoopy four-door ‘coupe’ version of the Octavia.

Speaking with GoAuto at the Octavia RS launch this week, Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer said that if such a car made it into production, the local arm would have its hand up high for it.

“That will suit us well,” he said. “At the moment that is a study and that is what it is.

“If the factory decided to put it into production, we will then evaluate whether it suits our market in terms of its positioning, its packaging, what is the segmentation in Australia and so forth and then we will make a call whether we bring it into Australia, but at the moment it is a study.” As a production model, the Vision C-based vehicle could mirror Volkswagen’s strategy of offering the Passat mid-sizer alongside the sleeker CC four-door coupe.

Skoda is also believed to be developing a large SUV said to be based on Volkswagen’s CrossBlue seven-seat wagon which would sit well above the only other SUV in its line-up, the compact Yeti.

Mr Irmer said the company would be happy with a five-car line-up after the launch of the Rapid in May, but another SUV would be a welcome addition to the range, should it be built.

“So we start with Rapid and we have a five-car line-up,” he said. “It gives us a good coverage and gives us enough pillars to stand on and when there are more SUV options available from the factory, because of the nature of the Australian business, SUV is something we would definitely consider here.”

Asked about the development of the Skoda SUV, Mr Irmer said there was “nothing yet to be released” but that it was likely we will “hear more from the factory in the next couple of months or so, so as soon as we have something, we will announce it”.

Skoda’s local arm is keen on more go-faster RS variants. Currently, the performance version of the Octavia makes up 30 per cent of overall sales Octavia in Australia.

“It’s nothing to be announced at this point,” he said. “The factory is always evaluating opportunities but it is not something you can go out and say ‘look we are doing that’ because the next minute you change your objective and say ‘no we don’t do it’.

“So at the moment there is nothing we can announce about new RS derivatives, even though from an Australian perspective we would certainly welcome them.”

Currently Skoda offers four model lines in Australia, starting with the Fabia light-car, the Octavia, the Superb large car and Yeti SUV.

This will get a boost in May with the arrival in local showrooms of the Toyota Corolla-sized Rapid Spaceback hatch.

The Rapid has had something of a protracted launch in Australia, with the sedan or Liftback version originally expected to arrive early to mid last year before Skoda Australia changed tack and opted to wait for the Spaceback instead.

At the time the company said it wanted to introduce the volume selling version but it may have also ditched the liftback to ensure it did not impact Octavia sales.

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