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Skoda ready to lock in SUV

Yes and no: Skoda Australia's boss said he will welcome an SUV to sit above its Yeti (below) crossover, but says no to the booted Liftback version of the Rapid (left).

Forthcoming VW Tiguan-based Skoda SUV set for Down Under debut in 2017

Skoda logo10 Jul 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

SKODA'S unnamed and unseen SUV is all but locked in for an Australian launch in 2017, giving the Czech car-maker an offering above its Yeti crossover that will go up against a host of established players.

Little is known about Skoda's future high-riding wagon, but it is likely to be offered as a five- and seven-seater when it eventually arrives, and will likely share its underpinnings with the next-generation Volkswagen Tiguan, due next year.

The Skoda-badged SUV was tipped to take the Snowman moniker, which is in keeping with the company's strategy of using unusual names for its models, but that was ruled out by the company's global CEO, Winfried Vahland.

Speaking with GoAuto at the new-gen Fabia launch in New South Wales this week, Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer said the SUV would be a welcome addition to the local range.

“Yeah it is 100 per cent appealing,” he said. “Mr Vahland (Skoda CEO Winfried) made a statement at the Geneva motor show to one of the Australian motoring journalists, the statement was it is safe to say it will come for Australia as well.”

Mr Irmer said Skoda's local subsidiary is working hard to finalise the model for the Australian market, adding that it is all but locked in.

“We are currently working on the business plan to bring it here, that means line-up, engines, mixes, pricing and all the rest of it,” he said. “I would not go so far to make a statement definitely confirming before I have it all signed off, but it's pretty safe, let's put it that way.”

Timing is still vague, but Mr Irmer said the SUV would arrive in 2017, following the launch of the third-gen Superb next year.

The SUV will reportedly be about 4600mm long which makes it about 370mm shorter than the compact Yeti, and roughly the same length as a Nissan X-Trail which sits in the mid-size SUV category in Australia.

This would pitch it against the top-selling Mazda CX-5, X-Trail, Toyota's RAV4, the Mitsubishi Outlander, Ford Kuga and Honda CR-V among others.

While the new SUV will boost Skoda's offerings in Australia, Mr Irmer ruled out a number of other models, including the Rapid Liftback, which is a sedan-like version of the hatch that landed here last May.

Skoda Australia has also said the recently revealed Rapid Spaceback ScoutLine accessories pack that gives the hatch a more rugged look similar to that of the larger Octavia Scout, is also a non-starter.

The next-generation version of the oddball Roomster hatch/MPV due next year is also off the cards for Australia, with Mr Irmer saying it will only be offered in selected regions.

“Not at this point,” he said. “The next generation will come out in Europe in select countries, not all the countries. It had other reasons because it is a joint development with commercial vehicles, it's not only just Australia.”

Skoda's next-gen Roomster will share its underpinnings with the fourth-gen Volkswagen Caddy that was revealed in February and due Down Under by the year's end.

The Roomster arrived in Australia when Skoda made its return here in 2007 alongside the Octavia, but was pulled from the market in November 2010 following lower than expected take-up, with just 233 units sold in three years.

Skoda reintroduced the Roomster in in June 2012, but after just 18 months and 146 sales, the Czech brand ditched it again in early 2014.

The company's Australian line-up consists of the just-launched Fabia hatch and wagon, the VW Golf-sized Rapid Spaceback, mid-size Octavia range, large Superb and the Yeti crossover.

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