The long-awaited Skoda seven-seat SUV could be revealed before the end of 2015, though it won’t make its global premiere in-the-metal until the Geneva motor show in March next year.
Skoda had not been expected to reveal the car until next year, just ahead of its official Geneva debut. But we understand from company sources, based at its Czech base, that we will in fact see the car months earlier than that.
The Czech rival for large SUVs, such as the Hyundai Santa Fe, has been gestating for some time — indeed, Skoda’s chairman Winfried Vahland has already told us it will come to Australia eventually. It has since been revealed that it will arrive on local shores by 2017, a side-effect of Skoda Australia's relatively long lead-times.
The family hauler will sit on a similar architecture to the new Superb (picture below) called MQB B. In typical Skoda fashion, it will, in all likelihood, offer class-leading cargo space — like the Superb and Fabia wagon do in their classes — and a full-size spare wheel.
Engines for Australia will include a 140kW/400Nm diesel and potentially the 162kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol from the Octavia RS and Golf GTI. Power will be directed to all four wheels in upper-spec versions, though front-drive variants are also possible.
It will also feature similar lines to the forthcoming Superb wagon, which in turn bears a strong family resemblance to the cleaner, simpler and classier new liftback body style. Each has been inspired by the Vision C concept.
The vehicle will be built in the Czech Republic at one of the brand's three factories there. As we know, the forthcoming and related Volkswagen seven-seater SUV will be built in the US, and probably only in left-hand-drive for now — creating a point of difference.
In many ways it is Skoda that is better suited to create and launch an SUV, given its brand values, as handed down by Volkswagen, are space, practicality and ease-of-use. It offers clever touches such as moveable velcro-backed cargo holders and integrated torches/umbrellas.
Pictured above: Skoda SUV test platform, hidden beneath modified Yeti body.
The nameplate is yet to be decided. Rumours that the car would be called Snowman are bunk. Other speculation suggests Amundsen and Polar. We understand that the company is still tossing up between about four naming proposals, and is in no massive rush to choose one.
The Skoda family SUV will fill a big void in its (and the wider Volkswagen Group’s) line-up, and will be a strong option in places such as Russia and China. It will also be a contender in Australia’s large SUV segment, which makes up almost 12 per cent of all vehicles sold across the country.
Expect the Skoda to kick off below $40,000, and for top-spec versions to nudge $60K.
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