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Skoda reveals Rapid ahead of 2013 Australian launch

Rapid addition: Skoda has shown the first official images of its new Rapid small car contender ahead of its local debut by mid-2013.

New Rapid and front-drive Yeti 90TSI to boost Skoda Australia’s small-car stocks

Skoda logo20 Jun 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

SKODA has released the first official pictures of its new Rapid, revealing the small liftback that will be unleashed onto the Australian market by the middle of next year to provide the company with a rival for the Ford Focus and Mazda3.

The Rapid, which will make its global public debut at the Paris motor show in September, will slot into Skoda’s Australian range between the Fabia light car and the mid-sized Octavia, which will itself be replaced Down Under with a new, substantially larger model later in 2013.

Skoda’s positioning of the Rapid makes it a crucial model for the fast-growing Czech company – sales of which are up 106.9 per cent year-to-date – considering almost one in four of all vehicles sold in Australia this year belong to the small-car segment, making it the country’s most popular by some margin.

The brand new model will form just one part of Skoda’s assault on Australia’s small car market, as the company also likely to add another front-drive variant of its Yeti compact SUV alongside the existing $26,290 77TSI at some point this year, probably in more powerful 90TSI guise.

Director of Skoda Australia Matthew Wiesner told GoAuto earlier this week that there was scope to introduce the extra front-drive Yeti derivation, and that the 90TSI sold in Europe – which uses the 90kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine from the Octavia – was “the obvious option”.

29 center image Left: Skoda Yeti 77TSI.

Mr Wiesner said the Yeti, of which 407 units have sold year-to-date, had not yet grown in popularity as hoped, and that the company had to focus more on cheaper front-drive options, which are increasingly being seen as competitors for traditional small cars on price and space.

“Front-drive Yeti has become almost another option for small car buyers,” he said.

“Nissan have done the same thing very well with Dualis, Mitsubishi with ASX, Subaru have got the XV. Those sorts of crossover ‘big small cars’ become a real part of that overall market.” “I was hoping we (Yeti) would have grown even quicker. I think our reason there is we’ve been too focused on the four-wheel-drive end, but our real unique selling point is two-wheel drive, and I see a very good opportunity down there with that end, below $30,000.” The styling of the newly-revealed Rapid, meanwhile, reveals few surprises, being almost identical to the MissionL preview concept revealed in Frankfurt last year, with its angular lines said to preview the new design language that will be used on all future Skoda models.

At 4480mm long and 1700mm wide, the Rapid is more compact than average for the small-car segment, being slightly slimmer and shorter than a Mazda3 sedan. Despite the dimensions, Skoda is claiming class-leading cabin space.

Other details are scarce, although Skoda claims it will offer five petrol and two diesel engines from launch. Expect these engines to be shared with the current VW Golf, probably including 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre turbo petrol engines, a 1.4-litre ‘twincharged engine’ and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel.

While the Rapid will be sold in liftback configuration from launch – meaning the rear aperture has roof hinges as opposed to a traditional boot – Mr Wiesner confirmed to GoAuto that a traditional hatchback version would be offered from 2014.

He said Skoda will not offer a wagon version “at this stage”, as models like the Fabia wagon and entry-level Yeti would serve essentially the same purpose.

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