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Skoda sharpens up for a busy 2014

Addition: March should see the arrival of the facelifted Yeti range, heralded by the addition of a variant with the same 90TSI 1.4-litre unit as found in the Rapid.

Czech brand Skoda to continue its price re-positioning, with cuts to come

Skoda logo28 Nov 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

SKODA’S decision to slash the pricing of its new Octavia staple in Australia will reverberate through the rest of its soon-to-expand new model range, with a new era of cheaper offerings on the way.

In Europe, Skoda vehicles are positioned well below their Volkswagen cousins despite sharing much architecture, but in Australia, this has not always been the case. Now this looks set to change.

Starting at $21,690, the new Octavia is more than $3000 cheaper than its predecessor despite undergoing a big growth spurt – and in good news for brand fans, the upcoming Rapid Spaceback and facelifted Yeti will continue this trend of offering more for less.

Boosting this new-found value equation, a new capped-price servicing offer starting with the Octavia, and a $1500 extended warranty option across the range, aim to back up the marque’s repositioning in Australia as a cost-effective European quality alternative to the Asian brands.

The goal of all this is to boost sales significantly after a year of decline in a growing market. At 2982 units to the end of October, Skoda’s volume is down some 8.5 per cent compared to the same time in the previous year.

Skoda declines to reveal sales expectations for next year, except to say that it is striving to beat the 3502 record set in 2012.

“We will continue to offer better value products from now on as we move forward,” says Skoda Australia general manager of communications Karl Gehling.

“The new Octavia is just the beginning.”

Beyond the aforementioned Rapid and Yeti facelifts, Skoda’s local range will also expand over the next year or so with turbo-petrol and diesel RS derivations of the new Octavia in March, and a facelifted Superb large car.

RS pricing is a closely kept secret but don’t be surprised if a sub-$35,000 start for the 162kW petrol liftback, if the base version’s $3000 price cut carries over to the hot version as we expect it will.

At the same time, Skoda’s first two-box five-door hatchback of near C-segment sizing will surface in the shape of the Rapid Spaceback, which employs an extended variation of the PQ25 platform found beneath the VW Polo and Audi A1.

Expected to start at around $18,000 for the 77TSI 1.2-litre manual and extending to about $21k with the 90TSI 1.4-litre tied to a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG, the Spaceback will give Skoda its first true tilt at the lower end of the segment against the likes of the Hyundai i30, Nissan Pulsar Hatch and Kia Cerato.

Note that the Rapid’s regular liftback counterpart that was released earlier will not be coming to Australia for the time being. As we reported back in July, the company decided to put the latter on hold “indefinitely” as the Spaceback was deemed more appealing to the intended younger target audience.

Capping off a busy month, March should also see the arrival of the facelifted Yeti range, heralded by the addition of a variant with the same 90TSI 1.4-litre unit as found in the Rapid (and as used in the previous-generation Golf 90TSI), priced around $25k.

The newcomer will not only fill in the gap between the outgoing base 77TSI from $26,290 (but lately promoted from $21,990 driveaway) and $32,990 112TSI, it will also give Skoda the opportunity to permanently reposition the facelifted 77TSI 4x2 opener in the lower-$20K region against the new-wave B-segment compact SUVs such the Holden Trax, Ford EcoSport and Nissan Juke.

Beyond that, the Superb facelift is slated for a mid-year release, showing minor nose and tail changes as well as sharper pricing (our money is on a low-$30,000 repositioning – down from $38,990 for the existing Ambition 118TSI).

Finally, the Octavia range will get another bolster from the Scout 4x4 model around year’s end (or possibly in the first quarter of 2015), to take on the upcoming all-new Subaru Outback due around the same time.

The much-touted larger SUV first disclosed about in GoAuto almost two years ago is still on the cards, but according to Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer it is still at least two and a half years from launch.

“The big SUV won’t be here until about 2016 or 2017,” he confirmed. “It is still a long time away.”Skoda’s busy 2014
Octavia RS – March
Rapid Spaceback – March
Yeti facelift – March
Superb facelift – August
Octavia Scout 4x4 – December/Q1 2015
Big SUV – 2016/2017

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