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Kodiaq nears as Skoda Yeti winds down

Bear necessity: The forthcoming Kodiaq will be big enough for Aussie families, says Skoda.

Skoda’s SUV plans take shape as Kodiaq piques interest, no Atlas-sized SUV planned

Skoda logo11 Nov 2016

By TIM ROBSON

SKODA Australia is betting heavily on the success of its first mid-size SUV, with the forthcoming Kodiaq set to be the largest vehicle in the local line-up for the foreseeable future.

Launched ahead of the Paris motor show, the Kodiaq is about to roll down the production line in Europe, before an Australian debut in the second half of 2017.

Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer told GoAuto that there has already been some interest from customers, despite only a small ‘register interest’ flag on the company’s website to proclaim the car’s presence.

“I think that’s the car we can generate the most interest with,” he said. “We haven’t gone out with anything publicly, although there’s been some organic interest.

“We’ll look at starting a pre-sale campaign in the second quarter of next year.

Really, we need cars for customers to drive in order to get traction with it so it’ll be the second half of next year when it really kicks off.”

Mr Irmer said that the company is already receiving expressions of interest for the Volkswagen Tiquan-based SUV“We have started an ‘interested’ tab on our website, and we already have between 150 and 200 leads at this stage after a week, so given it’s not promoted at all, it shows a good indication of how this is going to go,” he said.

A seven-seat, 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol-powered version called the Kodiaq 132TSI will lead the charge, with 132kW of power and 320Nm of torque.

Mr Irmer was dismissive of the notion that a larger SUV based on the recently launched Volkswagen Atlas was a logical fit for Skoda or for Australia.

“The Atlas has solely been developed for left-hand drive as far as I’m aware for both China and the US,” he said. “Firstly it would have to become available as a platform, which is not the case right now, and then you would need to see the size of the Kodiaq.

“Personally, I don’t think you need much more size than this. It’s a large car already.”

At the other end of the scale, the small Yeti SUV range has been bolstered with the return of an all-wheel-drive variant to the line up for the first time since the 103TDI was discontinued earlier this year.

Mr Irmer said that the Yeti – set to be replaced by a more conservative, MQB-platformed vehicle in 2018 – will get no further updates as it moves into run-out mode.

“We’ve phased out the all-wheel-drive diesel and replaced it with the all-wheel-drive petrol,” he said. “That (diesel) was obviously one of the EA189 engined cars left in the range, so we had the choice to continue on with the SCR (selective catalytic reduction) cartridge-equipped diesel or a petrol version.

“Looking at that small-SUV market, it’s clearly dominated by petrol, even in the all-wheel drives.”

Mr Irmer explained that Yeti production at Skoda’s second plant in Kvasiny in the Czech Republic was being throttled back, as the recently updated facility is already running at capacity with the Superb, Seat’s Ateca SUV and the Kodiaq.

“It’s had an adverse affect on our Yeti supply, which is why we’ve reduced our numbers a little bit – which is not a bad thing, as we can run it out naturally and not have a surplus of supply,” he said.

“Sales were affected by some 40 per cent when we stopped the all-wheel drive, then we also stopped promoting it and focused on other products in the brand.”

Mr Irmer said that Fabia supply, including the reborn Monte Carlo, has been freed up for 2017, as well. “We’ll have 20 to 30 per cent more volume, which allows us to promote it a bit more.”

Meanwhile, Mr Irmer said that the diesel emissions scandal that continues to plague the group is having little impact on Skoda.

“It’s not affecting us in terms of sales,” he said. “Of course we would like to continue on with the software flashing of affected vehicles, but this is a currently a discussion which looks like it’s coming closer to a solution and an end. We can hopefully start with the process very soon.”

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