The model – which (refuted) rumours have suggested will be known as the Snowman – will arrive in Australia in 2017 following its international reveal in 2016, according to Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the launch of the new Skoda Fabia in Sydney this week, Irmer confirmed plans are well advanced to offer the new model, which could mimic the forthcoming new Volkswagen Tiguan in being offered as both a regular wheelbase five-seater and as a longer seven-seat offering.
“The Skoda brand is working on an extended range, and it’s clearly earmarked for Australia,” he said, referring to the confirmation of the new model that came at the Geneva motor show.
“It’s pretty safe to say that we’re going to get it,” he said, before stating it would be “2017 for Australia”.
“The international launch will be next year, and because of homologation we have six to eight months lead time for us to bring the car to Australia. So we’ll see it in the first half of 2017,” he said.
As for whether the all-new SUV will be offered with seven seats or five, Irmer indicated that it could be a split model offering similar to the replacement for the Tiguan, which will be larger than before, and will be offered in five-seat regular- and seven-seat long-wheelbase variants.
“We haven’t [decided] yet, we’re working on the business case now, so it’s fluid at the moment but it will be optional like the competitors,” he said, referencing the likes of the Nissan X-Trail and Mitsubishi Outlander, not to mention the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Its exact size is yet to be confirmed, but some reports suggest the new model will span about 4.6 metres long - or about 40 centimetres more than the current Yeti model.
Irmer said Skoda will capitalise on the massive growth in the SUV segment, which, so far in 2015, is up 13.8 per cent compared to this time last year. SUVs currently account for 34.5 per cent of all new vehicle sales.
“I think now the SUV segment in Australia is nearing the 50.0 per cent mark, with very quick steps happening. And we are working on the extension of the SUV range,” Irmer said.
“I think the new SUV will be a genuine SUV, and it will fit in well in to its segment, as all the other developments have been really thoroughly benchmarked against the competition. And it will simply explore a new segment for the brand."
Volkswagen Group Australia managing director John White suggested the new Skoda model would help the Czech-based brand grow its footprint in Australia.
“It opens up the consumer base and that’s where the volume growth comes into it,” White said.
Further, Irmer confirmed a replacement version of the Yeti is under development - and that model will likely grow in size when it hits the scene.
“The next generation of the Yeti will come later, after this [SUV],” he said. “The larger one comes first, with a seven-seater option, and then we have a new-generation Yeti.”
Expect the new Yeti SUV to be unveiled in 2017.