Skoda a lot to like at right price

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Paul Gover -

THE Skoda come­back in Aus­tralia is strug­gling for trac­tion and action. As has ev­ery start-up brand, it has bat­tled to make an im­pact against about 50 ri­vals, de­spite big­brother sup­port from Volk­swa­gen. The Ger­man gi­ant owns the Czech car­maker and chose it be­fore Seat, from Spain, as its value con­tender for Aus­tralia.

Skoda has good cars and the Room­ster and Oc­tavia are great value, but with no huge ad­ver­tis­ing bud­get, it is hard to get peo­ple in­ter­ested. Even a break­through $10 mil­lion spend can go wrong, as Re­nault dis­cov­ered af­ter an early flurry in Aus­tralia.

Skoda badly needs a hero car to go from its cur­rent 850 sales to the 1500 and more it had been hop­ing to achieve in its first year.

The ob­vi­ous choice is the all­new Fabia (above), which sits be­tween the Volk­swa­gen Polo and Golf in size and has enough youth­ful ap­peal to work well here, but only at the right price.

I drove a Fabia wagon in Bri­tain and was im­pressed by its size, styling, han­dling, diesel per­for­mance and a cabin that’s fresher and more youth­ful than the all- black cave ap­proach Volk­swa­gen favours. The Fabia could be a win­ner, but that de­pends on pric­ing, which will have to be in the low $20,000s to slide be­neath the Golf and line up against the Corolla, Civic and Ti­ida.

Skoda Aus­tralia boss Matthew Wies­ner has been un­able to con­vince the chiefs in the Czech Repub­lic to give him the price he needs, so the Fabia is still only a pos­si­bil­ity for us.

Even if the dol­lar deal suc­ceeds, the car will not be an easy sell, but there are plenty of rea­sons to like the Fabia. It is a good car and is ob­vi­ously from the Volk­swa­gen fam­ily, but the Skoda DNA makes it dif­fer­ent.

I’d like to see the Fabia here, but only if the price is right.

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