Skoda will roll out five new cars in New Zealand over the next few months in what will be the biggest model offensive in its history.
It began this week with the Rapid liftback, a sub-$30,000 C-segment rival for four-door models like the Kia Cerato, Nissan Pulsar, Holden Cruze, among others.
Next up is the Octavia liftback and station wagon, followed by the revised Superb sedan and wagon, the go-faster RS Octavia range, and, in November, the small Citigo, a five-door city-slicker.
Another Rapid variant, the Spaceback, arrives early in 2014 along with the facelifted Yeti, Skoda’s most popular model in New Zealand.
Skoda is aiming for 800 sales this year, up from 581 in 2012. At the end of July it had sold 407 units.
By December 31, it will have needed to have averaged 2.5 sales a day over five months to crack 800 sales for 2013.
Big call? Skoda NZ general manager Sean Tupp knows so. “We certainly have a task ahead to achieve it,” he said.
“We’ll need big sales months over the next three months, especially as December is hard work. We will be pushing hard, though.”
The Rapid is the first Skoda to showcase the brand’s new design language, a welcome blend of creases and curves, along with a restyled grille and brand logo.
The theme continues inside with a no-nonsense layout containing, among a number of conveniences, six cupholders. There is a pocket under the driver’s seat, too.
The rear torsion bar suspension arrangement allows for a deep and generous boot, in this case a class-leading 530 litres, or 1470 litres with the rear seats folded down.
Under the bonnet is a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder VW Group engine delivering 90kW at 5000rpm and 200Nm between 1500-4000rpm and driving the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG, or dual-clutch, gearbox.
A brief drive on its 16-inch alloys revealed a firmish but settled ride and predictable handling. Highlight was an electrically assisted steering rack that provided a well-weighted response to inputs, more so than many other such racks.
Skoda claims town-and-around fuel use of 5.8 litres/100km, good for a CO2 rating of 134gr/km.
Rapid starts at $29,900. Adding 17-inch alloys and a few more goodies pushes it to $31,900.