This is according to Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer, who we spoke to this week at the launch of the new Superb flagship model. Irmer admitted the Rapid was not seen as a top priority car, simply because its marketing budget could only stretch so far.
Since its local launch in May 2014, Skoda Australia has sold only 760 Rapids. In 2015, it managed 448 units, which equated to 0.2 per cent share of the small car segment — Australia’s biggest-selling by volume.
It was also outsold comprehensively by the Octavia, Fabia and Yeti, and in fact accounted for only around 10 per cent of Skoda Australia’s overall sales. With 44 sales in January and February this year, it has declined more than 40 per cent.
“I think with the Rapid, in first-generation, we have not put… we have to prioritise our spend, we prioritise media investment into larger vehicles,” Irmer said, noting that it’s harder to push your image upmarket from a lower base than vice-versa.
“The reason is we want to establish the brand, we are still a new player, [we have a] blank sheet, and want to be known for the higher end of the market. It has a positive flow down affect on image, it’s easier to flow down into the small car segment.
“… Of course we will continue with it, we are half-way way through the life cycle approximately. We will give more emphasis in the future, an increase with the new generation.
“… It’s not a massive corporate focus, I’d say that, but it’s still an important car and an important segment.”
The Skoda Rapid is actually one of the more under-appreciated small cars around. Skoda updated it last year with a range of upgraded engines and cut the starting price to a very cheap $17,990 plus on-roads. It also added a Monte Carlo version.
Add the $1500 Image Pack to regular models or the $1800 Tech Pack to the Monte Carlo, and you’ll gain a larger 6.5 inch display with satellite navigation and Skoda’s new SmartLink system, which adds connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.