Oc­tavia gets a fresh start

Skoda up­grade is more than a tickle-down ef­fect, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Carsguide -

THE ar­rival next year of an up­dated Skoda Oc­tavia is more than just a cos­metic tickle for the Czech brand. There will be new en­gines, more DSG manu-matic mod­els and a new dol­lar deal for the fam­ily-fo­cused car that is lead­ing Skoda sales.

Fi­nal plans are still se­cret and the head of Skoda in Aus­tralia says there will be a cou­ple of sur­prises.

‘‘We’ve had time to have a think about how Oc­tavia works from an en­try point of view in Aus­tralia,’’ Matthew Wies­ner says. ‘‘Without giv­ing any­thing away, that’s where we’ve put a lot of fo­cus.’’

The up­dated Oc­tavia was pre­viewed at this month’s Paris Mo­tor Show, with a freshen-up that starts at a bolder grille and runs to a sim­pler tail-end treat­ment, along with a lot of work on the dash­board and cabin qual­ity. The seats are also new. ‘‘The facelift brings a new level of re­fine­ment and qual­ity,’’ Wies­ner says. ‘‘It also sits well with the Su­perb model. Put them to­gether and you can see the fam­ily re­sem­blance, in­clud­ing some touches that have come across from Su­perb.’’

The 2.0-litre petrol en­gine now in the Oc­tavia will be dumped in favour of a 1.8 with seven-speed DSG.

The launch plan will see the sedan and wagon rolled out first, then the RS and Scout all-wheel drive.

‘‘The plan is to launch the car to­wards the end of March. Euro­pean pro­duc­tion is re­ally just start­ing, so it’s the typ­i­cal roll-through for the var­i­ous mar­kets,’’ Wies­ner says.

But he de­nies any de­lay to clear stocks as Skoda strug­gles through its start-up year in Aus­tralia.

‘‘Even if we wanted to push it for­ward . . . there is no point in try­ing this year,’’ he says.

‘‘We have to run-out cur­rent mod­els and make sure that is done cleanly.’’

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