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Skoda to release sub-$40k diesel Superb

New Czech mate: Diesel-powered Superb 103TDI will cost the same as its petrol equivalent.

Czech brand Skoda fires salvo at large car segment with new Superb 103TDI

16 Aug 2011

CZECH manufacturer Skoda will attempt to lure more buyers away from traditional Australian-made large cars like Holden’s Commodore and Ford’s Falcon when it releases a new price-leading diesel variant of its Superb sedan and wagon in September.

Powered by the same 103kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel as found in the Octavia range, as well as several models in parent company Volkswagen’s line-up, the Superb 103TDI will start at the same $38,990 (plus on-road costs) price as the entry-level 118TSI petrol-powered variant.

Flagged in the lead-up to the recent Australian International Motor Show but not surfacing until this week, the new Superb variant will slot beneath the 125TDI in the range.

The sharp price point means the Superb will become Australia’s only diesel-powered European large car priced under $40,000 – not counting the Latitude sedan (from $36,990) that Renault has also pitched at the Commodore and Falcon but is officially classed as a mid-size model.

The new variant will be available in both Ambition and Elegance specification levels, as well as wagon and sedan bodystyles and - unique to the Superb line-up in Australia - the choice of both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations (entry-level Ambition variants only).

29 center imageLeft: Skoda Superb wagon.

Currently, the Haldex clutch-based AWD system, also used in the Octavia Scout, is only available in the flagship 3.6-litre V6 model.

At the announcement of the new variant, head of Skoda Australia Matthew Wiesner said the space available inside the cabin of the Superb compared to similarly priced but smaller vehicles was a key factor in differentiating the car from its rivals.

“We’ve got that space pretty much to ourselves,” he said. “We can pull people up from the medium car segment.” Mr Wiesner was clear about Skoda’s position in the market, stating that the company’s main aim was to make driving a large European car a more feasible proposition for aspirational buyers.

“We are unashamedly in a space where we think there are a lot of people who would like to drive a European car but in the past haven’t quite been able to get there. Our role (within the VW Group) is very clear." Mr Wiesner also referred to examples from closer to home of traditional players in the large car segment looking at other ideas to boost interest in the flagging segment.

“There must be and there will be and there are a lot of people who are driving more traditional large cars in this market who are looking at other ideas," he said.

“Ford is out there pushing their LPG (EcoLPi) drivetrain for Falcon, for instance. So they’re obviously looking at other alternatives to the traditional Australian six-cylinder petrol drivetrain.

“So once they start doing that then they’ve got people looking at alternatives well that also brings us potentially into the mix as well, because they’re already looking at alternatives.” The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel produces 103kW and 320Nm (between 1750 and 2500rpm), and is shared with the smaller Skoda Octavia as well as several products across the range of parent company Volkswagen.

The Euro5 emissions-compliant powerplant is mated to a six-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission as standard.

Skoda claims the two-wheel-drive sedan consumes just 6.1 litres of diesel per 100km and emits 161 grams of CO2 per kilometre (6.2L/100km and 164g/km for the wagon).

As expected, figures for the optional four-wheel-drive variant are marginally higher at 6.4L/100km and 167g/km for the sedan (6.5L/100km and 171g/km for the wagon).

Standard features on the entry-level Ambition variant includes dual-zone climate-control, a multi-function trip computer, Bluetooth and MP3 compatibility, cruise control, front foglights with cornering function, rear parking sensors with optical display and a leather-trimmed steering wheel, gearshifter and handbrake.

The wagon variant also gets Park Assist parallel parking system with front parking sensors as standard.

Safety gear includes nine airbags – twin front, twin front-side, twin rear-side, twin side curtain and a driver’s knee airbag - as well electronic stability control, ABS brakes and Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR), and a dual-rate brake booster to assist with emergency stopping power.

According to industry statistician VFACTS, sales in the once-dominant large car segment are down 22.9 per cent so far this year but sales of the Superb are up by a significant 139.9 per cent (albeit from a low base).

With an overall segment share of just 0.8 per cent for the year-to-date, the big Czech – which has been on local sale since 2009 - is a figurative drop in the ocean.

Superb sales trail well behind those of the locally made Commodore, Falcon and Toyota Aurion, as well as the Honda Accord and venerable Nissan Maxima.

There has been an increase in the number of large European passenger vehicles available in Australia in 2011, with Peugeot releasing its 508 sedan and wagon range in July and Renault unveiling its Latitude flagship in April.

The Superb 103TDI is the first release in what will be a busy period for VW’s Czech mate, with the launch of the light-sized Fabia range in September and the compact Yeti SUV in late October to be followed by the re-launch of the quirky Roomster van with a revised petrol powertrain in 2012.

Mr Wiesner also confirmed that a facelifted Superb range with freshened styling will make its way here in 2013, when an all-new Octavia is also expected to make its global debut.

Also on the Skoda agenda is an all-new model based on the same new transverse modular platform that will spawn a number of different models from the Volkswagen group, including the Up city-car expected on sale here next year.

Skoda Superb pricing:
Superb 103 TDI
Ambition sedan $38,990
Ambition 4x4 sedan $41,990
Elegance 4x4 sedan $48,490
Ambition wagon $40,990
Ambition 4x4 wagon $43,990
Elegance 4x4 wagon $50,490
Superb 118 TSI&nbsp
Ambition sedan $38,990
Elegance sedan&nbsp $44,990
Ambition wagon $40,990
Elegance wagon $46,990
Superb 125 TDI
Ambition sedan $41,990
Elegance sedan $47,990
Ambition wagon $43,990
Elegance wagon $49,990
Superb 3.6 V6
Elegance 4x4 sedan $55,990
Elegance 4x4 wagon $57,990

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