Exclusive images preview the new baby crossover that will slot in below the Skoda Karoq and Kodiaq in Skoda's SUV line-up
Skoda’s forthcoming compact SUV will be on sale within 12 months and will be the most practical and spacious model in its class, according to the boss of the Czech firm, Bernhard Maier. The Nissan Juke rival and spiritual successor to the Yeti crossover will be revealed early next year, ahead of arriving in showrooms in the summer. It will be the third SUV in Skoda’s expanding range, slotting beneath the larger Karoq and Kodiaq models.
Under the skin will be the VW Group’s new MQB A0 platform, but in its longest possible set-up. A 2,645mm wheelbase will give the car even more space inside than a VW T-Roc, a model that competes in a segment above.
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This focus on practicality and space is what will mark the Skoda out against its nearest competitors, according to Maier. Speaking exclusively to Auto Express at the Paris Motor Show, he told us: “We always position our cars at the upper end of the segment, so we have a longer wheelbase, have a bigger boot and more space in the interior.
“This is a segment which opened up a couple of years ago, and as we want to take part and have a piece of the cake, this car fits perfectly. This is why we presented the Vision X and, as always with our vision cars, it gives you a view of what it will look like,” the Skoda boss explained.
The finished model, previewed by our exclusive images, will closely resemble the Vision X concept seen at March’s Geneva Motor Show. It will adopt more angular bodywork and sharper surfacing than the Karoq and Kodiaq, because it’s aimed at a younger, more style-conscious buyer.
Maier added: “The car is following the needs of our customers. You have all the advantages of a big body, higher seating and more space, while not spending too much on the drivetrain, such as four-wheel drive.”
While the platform can adopt all-wheel drive, Skoda will not equip its baby SUV with the tech in a bid to keep costs down. It will be offered with the VW Group’s latest batch of engines, most of which will be versions of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol found in the Fabia and Octavia hatches.
Two variants are likely to be available – 95bhp and 115bhp – while buyers wanting more power will have to go for the 148bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo. A 1.6-litre diesel will also be offered, but it’s highly unlikely that there will be a plug-in hybrid version, at least initially.
The SUV arrives in the midst of the largest campaign of launches in Skoda’s history and into a segment that is the fastest growing in Europe; by 2020 SUVs are expected to account for 34 per cent of new cars sold in the region.
“This is why we’re starting our biggest product offensive with the introduction of new SUV models,” Maier said. “We are offering 20 models by 2020 and nine will be electrified. Some of these are successors, some are new line-up and some are quite groundbreaking.”
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An all-new version of the Skoda Rapid, taking on a completely new name, will beat the baby SUV to showrooms, arriving by the end of the year. The VW Golf rival is also expected to spawn a fully-fledged vRS model, a car that will be Skoda’s first credible rival to the likes of the Peugeot 308 GTi and Renault Mégane R.S.
Next year sees the introduction of Skoda’s first electrified vehicle, the Superb plug-in hybrid. It will make use of a 242bhp powertrain comprising a 1.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, which will deliver 43 miles of all-electric range. Following it up will be the Citigo E, a fully-electric version of the Czech firm’s city car but with a much-extended range over the existing VW e-up!, at 186 miles. Seven further electrified models will be launched before 2020.
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