Skoda storms into NZ’S SUV mar­ket

South Waikato News - - Motoring - ROB MAETZIG

Czech ve­hi­cle brand Skoda is ramp­ing up its New Zealand pres­ence to an en­tirely new level with the launch of its first-ever SUV.

Any pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer worth its salt needs to have at least one of­fer­ing in the SUV seg­ment. Af­ter all, lat­est new ve­hi­cle sales sta­tis­tics for New Zealand show that bet­ter than 56 per cent of all regis­tra­tions are this type of ve­hi­cle.

So Skoda en­ter­ing the fray – big-time. The first is a medi­um­sized SUV called Ko­diaq, which is rolling on to deal­er­ship floors about now. Next year – maybe even late this year – a com­pact SUV called Karoq will ar­rive, and this will be fol­lowed in 2019 by an even smaller and as yet un-named SUV.

In be­tween all of that Skoda NZ plans to in­tro­duce fur­ther de­riv­a­tives of the Ko­diaq, in­clud­ing Sport­line, higher-rid­ing Scout, and per­for­mance-ori­ented RS mod­els. And the longer-term plan is to move into e-mo­bil­ity with PHEV and fully elec­tric mod­els.

Lit­tle won­der then that Skoda NZ gen­eral man­ager Greg Leet was fairly fizzing with en­thu­si­asm as he helped in­tro­duce the Ko­diaq to the mo­tor­ing me­dia in Auck­land.

‘‘It’s such a sig­nif­i­cant event to bring a ve­hi­cle like the Ko­diaq into a mar­ket that has such an SUV ap­petite,’’ he told jour­nal­ists.

‘‘Not only will it add another layer to our prod­uct suite, ad­ding to Fabia, Oc­tavia and Su­perb, but it is the first string to Skoda’s bow in the SUV seg­ment. And now we’ll be ad­ding a new SUV ev­ery year – to­tally new mod­els – through to at least 2020.’’

Skoda is a rel­a­tively small player in New Zealand, with a 1.4 per cent mar­ket share. But it is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing good sales growth – whereas in 2014 the brand sold 846 ve­hi­cles, this year it is an­tic­i­pat­ing 1460 sales, and plan­ning for this to grow fur­ther to at least 1800 sales next year, helped along by the ar­rival of all those SUVS.

This new SUV im­me­di­ately ap­peals as an ex­cel­lent ve­hi­cle. Built on VW Group’s scaleable MQB plat­form, it is a full sev­enseater with a high level of stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion and a va­ri­ety of re­ally good ideas that Skoda calls Sim­ply Clever. It’s avail­able with a choice of 2WD and AWD, and is pow­ered by a se­lec­tion of 110kw 1.4-litre and 132kw 2.0-litre tur­bocharged petrol en­gines, and a 140kw 2.0-litre tur­bocharged diesel.

It also en­ters the mar­ket with an en­try price of $39,990, which line-balls it with the Nis­san X-trail in the seven-seater SUV com­pe­ti­tion. But in terms of di­men­sions the Ko­diaq is big­ger than a con­sid­er­ably more ex­pen­sive Hyundai Santa Fe, and only slightly smaller than a Toy­ota Prado.

The Skoda Ko­diaq – op­po­si­tion brands may feel re­lieved that the New Zealand im­porter is re­stricted to 380 units this year.

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