Su­perbly po­si­tioned

De­spite slow sales, Skoda is far from be­ing on the skids, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE sales fig­ures for Skoda are hardly en­cour­ag­ing. But Volk­swa­gen’s Czech mate is not go­ing any­where, Skoda Aus­tralia boss Matthew Wies­ner says.

Skoda last year sold only 818 ve­hi­cles, sig­nif­i­cantly down on even its own con­ser­va­tive fore­cast.

But he ar­rival of the up­dated Oc­tavia range and keenly spec­i­fied and priced Su­perb should help lever­age sales and ex­pand the brand’s ex­po­sure, Wies­ner says.

A lot is rid­ing on the new Su­perb, which starts at $42,990 for the en­trylevel Am­bi­tion 1.8-litre TFSI, ris­ing to $56,990 for the range-top­ping El­e­gance 3.6-litre V6 with all-wheel drive.

Wies­ner says he be­lieves Su­perb buy­ers will come from higher-end Ja­panese brands.

‘‘But as with the Oc­tavia, we’re see­ing peo­ple com­ing from among the more tra­di­tional Euro car own­ers,’’ he says. ‘‘So we ex­pect Su­perb to do some­thing sim­i­lar.’’

Fleets are also on Skoda’s agenda, par­tic­u­larly no­vated lease buy­ers.

‘‘They cer­tainly present some op­por­tu­ni­ties,’’ he says. ‘‘The Su­perb is a good value equa­tion for those buy­ers.’’

Wies­ner says the sales fo­cus at Skoda re­mains on qual­ity and value.

‘‘We’ve tried to not set our ex­pec­ta­tions too high,’’ he says. ‘‘But, as an ex­am­ple, we are find­ing we’re get­ting a strong vol­ume of in­quiry. So in the­ory we should keep mov­ing up, even if the mar­ket’s off 15 per cent.’’

Wies­ner will not be drawn on a Skoda sales fore­cast for this year.

‘‘But the mar­ket the way it is, is go­ing to be harder on the more es­tab­lished play­ers with more vol- ume prod­uct. Peo­ple are go­ing to be far more pru­dent in their buy­ing de­ci­sions too.’’

The front-wheel-drive 1.8 TFSI de­vel­ops 118kW/250Nm and is mated to a VW sourced, sev­en­speed, dual-clutch trans­mis­sion.

The 3.6-litre V6 de­vel­ops 125kW/ 350Nm and gets a six-speed dual clutch trans­mis­sion.

Fi­nal Su­perb spec­i­fi­ca­tions will be an­nounced be­fore it goes on sale in June.

The up­dated Oc­tavia goes on sale later this month.

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