Skoda storms into NZ’s SUV market
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.