Prices sure to please
Skoda gets serious about taking on its Asian competitors, writes Paul Pottinger
SKODA is out to conquer buyers of Asian brands by pricing its entry-level mid-sized car at hatchback prices and making satellite navigation standard in costlier models.
Launched this week, Skoda’s Octavia 90 TSI mirrors the pricing and drivetrains of its sibling, the entry-level Volkswagen Golf, but in a package comparable in size with the Mazda6 rather than Golf’s closest Japanese rival, the Mazda3.
With 90kW and 200Nm, the 1.4-litre direct-injection turbo petrol 90 TSI starts at $24,990 for the sixspeed manual liftback ($2000 more for the wagon). A seven-speed DSG transmission is a $2300 option on both.
‘‘It’s an entry level we really didn’t have,’’ Skoda Australia head Matthew Wieser says, acknowledging the token nature of previous forays. ‘‘It’s our first serious foray under $30,000.’’
The 90 TSI will be followed later this year by an entry diesel range using the Golf’s 1.6-litre common rail 77 TDI (77kW/250Nm), starting from $26,990 for the manual liftback. A sixspeed DSG is the auto option.
‘‘Effectively you can have a sevenspeed DSG 90 TSI for $27,290 now. It’s a pretty strong offer,’’ Wiesner says.
For emphasis, this week’s launch saw the 90 TSI displayed alongside a Mazda3, Hyundai i30 wagon and a Subaru Impreza.
‘‘There’s extraordinary value in that segment and we need, as a group, to get our fair share of that business,’’ Wiesner says. ‘‘We want to be in there among the Asian brands offering all those Skoda hallmarks — space, size, quality and all that German technology which the Czech guys bolt together very well.’’
Prices in the rest of the Octavia range, starting from the $30,990 1.8 TSI (which shares its engine with the $50,000 Audi A4), are unchanged — but all entrants from that point up come with standard satellite navigation.
Topline RS petrol and diesel models being delivered from this month also get the understeerquelling XDL differential from the Mark VI Golf GTI and GTD. And, in response to customer feedback, all Octavia liftbacks now have a rear window wiper.
‘‘The RS manual liftback is $37,490 and that now has XDL, and navigation as standard fit,’’ Wiesner says.
The next stage of the assault on Asia is February’s relaunch of the Octavia-based Scout, a direct competitor to Subaru’s Outback that’s hamstrung by its lack of an automatic. The diesel-only Scout might also acquire a petrol twin at a later date.
Bang for your buck: the Octavia TSI90 sedan (above) and wagon (below) offer buyers a bigger car for hatchback prices.