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Skoda drives upmarket

High-end moves: Most Skoda buyers are coughing up for the range-topping Octavia RS and the car-maker thinks consumers are happy to pay $50,000 for a new Skoda.

More buyers are spending upwards of $50,000 on Skoda models

17 Mar 2016

SKODA this week washed off its budget-price image by repositioning itself as a prestige player on the Australian market and acknowledging a large slice of its sales fringe the $50,000 price marker.

In launching its new Superb this week, Skoda director Michael Irmer said 78 per cent of its previous-generation large-car sales were for the top-spec variant that retailed for $44,990 plus on-road costs for the liftback sedan (the wagon was $46,990), while 47 per cent of the mid-size Octavia sales were made up of the sporty RS flagship that ranges in price from $37,590 to $42,490 plus costs.

“If you look at the Octavia RS, our buyers are paying up to $46,800 (plus on-road costs) for the most popular 162kW wagon model with metallic paint and the Tech Pack option,” he said.

“So what does this say about how much they would be prepared to pay for a Superb?” The third-generation Superb goes on sale this week from $39,990 plus on-roads for the base sedan with a $1700 premium for the wagon body style.

But Mr Irmer said it was the flagship all-wheel drive Superb model, priced from $50,990 – also available as a wagon for $52,690 – that would be the volume seller for the brand.

He said he expects substantial sales increases for the Superb that has been only a modest contributor to the brand’s Australia volume in the past few years.

Superb sales in 2015 were down by 24.8 per cent compared with 2014 but the volume was only 264 units as the model was in run-out mode and the 125TDI diesel was withdrawn in response to Volkswagen Group’s emission problems.

The push into a higher price bracket of the Superb had been a gradual move, Mr Irmer said, and led by the top-shelf Octavia RS capturing 47 per cent of Octavia sales in 2015.

“When you realise that our most popular car (Octavia RS DSG) is close to $50,000, what does that say about the higher-placed Superb?” The outgoing Superb ranged from $31,990 plus on-road costs (sedan 118TSI petrol) and $33,690 for the wagon with the same drivetrain, to the 125TDI diesel sedan and wagon at $44,990 and $46,690 respectively.

Skoda’s new Superb entry-level petrol costs $8000 more than its predecessor but Mr Irmer said it had substantially more equipment, more performance, a bigger body and greater safety.

The most expensive Superb, the diesel wagon, is now $52,690 plus costs.

“Last year, 78 per cent of Superb buyers bought the top-spec version,” Mr Irmer said.

“So we had to lift the Superb’s equipment, safety, comfort and performance. Australia now gets the more powerful 162kW engine as the entry-level powerplant.

“The features in the new Superb are not available in any of our competitors so our message is one of value for money.” The realisation that buyers were willing to spend more on its cars was seen as a wake-up call for the Czech car-maker.

Mr Irmer said it will lead to a closer look at how Skoda fits into the Australian landscape and that this view will take on greater significance considering the company will launch two new SUVs within the next two years – a seven-seater based on the VisionS concept and an all-new Yeti.

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