Skoda eyeing new crossover

Skoda eyeing new crossover

SKODA’S fresh global focus on SUVs could mean even more high-riding wagons in the Czech car-maker’s Australian line-up, as under-performing models and variants get cut.

The Volkswagen Group-owned brand has just launched its Kodiaq large seven-seat SUV in Australia, which is set to become a core model and one of its biggest sellers, while the closely related five-seat mid-size Karoq – revealed last month – hits showrooms early next year.

The loss of the boxy Yeti crossover, which ends production next month, means there is room for a small SUV to sit under the Karoq in Skoda’s line-up to take advantage of the booming segment and tackle the likes of the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Toyota’s C-HR, among others.

When asked if there was room in the Skoda line-up for a sub-Karoq small SUV, Skoda general manager of international sales Petr Solc told GoAuto that the Volkswagen Group was working on a number of projects to address to increasing global demand for SUVs.

“The big SUV segments are established but small SUV is booming,” he said at the Kodiaq media launch in New South Wales last week.

“In many markets the rate of growth is 150 per cent year on year. So definitely this is, for us, an opportunity, so definitely we are working on something and exploring these opportunities. Not only us at Skoda but the whole group. Our intention is of course to provide the product where the customers are so that is something we are working on.”

Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer reiterated Mr Solc’s comments, but added that it was unclear which brands and segments they would belong to.

“There will be many more SUV offerings coming out from the Group,” Mr Irmer added. “How many that will be and what they exactly look like and when they will exactly come, we will communicate that as soon as that information is ready to be released.”

As previously reported, the Karoq, which shares its underpinnings with the VW Tiguan, is higher than the medium SUV segment-leading Mazda CX-5, but is smaller in other dimensions.

Volkswagen is readying its contender in the small SUV segment, after the second-generation Tiguan grew in size and now competes with the CX-5 and others in the medium segment.

The model that is believed to be dubbed the T-Roc was caught testing wearing very little camouflage back in April, meaning its official reveal is imminent.

It is thought to be based on the ubiquitous MQB architecture and given the platform sharing between VW Group brands – particularly VW, Skoda, Seat and Audi – it would not be too costly for Skoda to produce its own crossover based on the T-Roc in a similar way that the Fabia is closely related to the Polo.

If such a model was given the green light, it would give Skoda further ammunition against its rivals in Australia and help it appeal to a younger buyer type.

Another potential SUV model could also be the car that brings Skoda into the electrified age.

The Czech car-maker ripped the covers off the Vision E concept at this year’s Shanghai motor show, previewing a swoopy large SUV model with a 225kW electric powertrain offering a 500km driving range that will be produced on the Group’s MEB EV architecture.

Skoda is also rumoured to be gearing up to introduce a plug-in hybrid version of the Kodiaq, but it is unclear whether it or the future EV SUV will be offered in Australia.

Meanwhile, the future of another crossover model in Skoda’s line-up is looking grim.

While Mr Irmer said the company was weighing its options when it comes to the updated version of the jacked-up Octavia Scout wagon, GoAuto understands that it is unlikely to return any time soon.

In the first full year of sales for the current-gen Scout, Skoda sold 437 examples, dipping 22 per cent year-on-year in 2016 to 341 units, to trail the similarly positioned VW Golf Alltrack that captured 887 buyers that year.

So far this year just 40 Octavia Scouts have found homes, a 77 per cent slide compared to the first five months of 2016.

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