SUPERB TO CATAPULT SKODA’S SALES BEYOND 1000 CARS THIS YEAR, WRITES COLIN SMITH
About 15 years ago, selling 1000 cars a year in New Zealand represented a critical mass for the European marques.
The market has moved on with Volkswagen now approaching 4000 passenger car sales a year while luxury brands BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz consistently operate around the 2000 mark.
Four-figure sales are still a milestone and it looks like Skoda will head off Land Rover to be the next brand to break through, comfortably overhauling Peugeot.
Year-to-date (January-September), Skoda has sold 791 units, up 22 per cent on the same period last year and on target to easily better last year’s sales record of 854 units and the 1000 car benchmark.
It’s the mid-size Octavia line-up which has been Skoda’s key model. Within that, the Scout and RS versions represent more than half of Octavia sales as New Zealanders follow established buying patterns and favour the crossover and performance-focused models.
The arrival of the third generation Superb in sedan and wagon bodystyles this month has given some end-of-year impetus to the Czech brand, and a full year of new Superb supply, and bolstering the new Fabia hatchback line-up with a Combi (wagon) bodystyle has Skoda hoping to sustain its growth curve toward 1300 cars next year.
Notably, this sales success is being achieved with just one SUV variant — the small Yeti. And, with a larger SUV model scheduled for a 2017 debut, there’s more Skoda momentum on the horizon.
In a number of ways, the Superb builds on the same formula as the Octavia. The turbocharged engines and dual clutch transmissions are shared and the Superb is the biggest iteration to date of the Volkswagen MQB transverse engine location platform that is also the basis for the Octavia, the VW Golf and Passat and the Audi A3 and TT.
The Superb also sticks to the proven Skoda recipe of providing a bigger, roomier car than the majority of its segment rivals with a combination of luxury specification and practical design details.
It’s an exceptionally spacious car with generous rear leg room and load space which measures 584 litres in the sedan and 619 litres for the wagon.
That Skoda can achieve that amount of cargo space and still provide a full-size spare wheel and a 66-litre fuel tank that will give long distance capability, especially to the diesel models, makes you wonder about the packaging skills of some other vehicle designers.
The Superb’s styling is highlighted by the signature 19-slot Skoda grille while the sharply chiselled lines and large wheel stance produce a handsome sedan design and a sleek wagon that has impressive road presence.
There are four engine choices — two petrols, two diesels — for the New Zealand market available in sedan (really a five-door liftback) and wagon bodystyles. Both lower output engine versions are front-wheel drive with pricing from $44,900 for the 1.8-litre TSI turbocharged petrol with 132kW output, and $47,900 for the 2.0-litre TDI diesel which develops 110kW. Opting for the wagon adds $3000.
The luxury content is boosted for the 2.0-litre TDI version with 140kW and 400Nm of torque and still further for the flagship 2.0-litre
TSI with 206kW output and 350Nm of torque. Four-wheel drive is standard on these models with $54,900 pricing for the 140kW TDI sedan and $57,900 for the wagon version with the 206kW TSI versions at $59,990 and $62,990.
The entry level 1.8 TSI and 2.0 TDI models have 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air-con, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, cruise control with speed limiter, satellite navigation with an eight-speaker audio system, Alcantara interior trim and power folding door mirrors.
The safety package consists of seven airbags, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Hold Control, Skoda’s Front Assistant low-speed accident avoidance system with autonomous braking and the Driver Alert System fatigue warning.
Stepping up to the all-wheel-drive 140kW TDI and 206kW TSI models introduces 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and push button engine start, Bi-xenon headlights, Lane Assist and Blind Spot Detection, Driving Mode Select (with normal, sport and eco settings), full leather seat trim, sports suspension and tri-zone air conditioning.
The tailgate on high grade wagon and sedan models has Virtual Pedal operation with a sensor under the rear bumper that will open when it identifies a foot movement from someone carrying the KESSY keyless entry system.
The performance 206kW Superb model, which will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 5.8seconds, offers one more specification step with the addition of Adaptive Cruise Control, Park Assist, Dynamic Chassis Control, heated front and rear seats and Columbus navigation with the Canton 10-speaker audio system. That leaves only a handful of options left for customer consideration — a sunroof ($2500), an alternative style of 19-inch wheels ($750) and rear side window sun shades ($500).
The Superb boasts an appealing level of standard specification and when its generous space, performance choices and mid-$40K to early $60K pricing is taken into account it represents a line-up of competitively positioned large cars.