Prices sure to please

Skoda gets se­ri­ous about tak­ing on its Asian com­peti­tors, writes Paul Pot­tinger

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

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.

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