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Is 2021 the year Skoda becomes a mainstream brand? New Octavia, Scala and Kamiq could propel Czech manufacturer into top 20

The new-generation Octavia will spearhead Skoda’s expected growth in 2021.

Skoda Australia has quietly been delivering consistently polished products since its relaunch in 2007, but even with strong value-for-money credentials and the might of Volkswagen Group behind it, the brand hasn’t quite broken into the mainstream consciousness.

But that could all change this year.

With brand recognition at an all-time high and fresh product to carry it through 2021 (including a full SUV entourage), Skoda Australia could sell enough cars this year to propel it well in to the top 20 to overtake the likes of Renault, Volvo and even Lexus.

Last year, Skoda Australia’s sales hit 6607 units, a slight 5.6 per cent decrease over the 7001 sales it managed in 2019, but the brand still managed a smaller drop than the industry’s 13.7 per cent average due to COVID-19 complications.

The tide is already turning in 2021, with January sales setting a new high watermark for the Czech brand, notching 901 new registrations (+66.9% compared with the same month last year).

This mean Skoda outsold Volvo, Renault, Porsche, Lexus, Land Rover and Jeep last month.

Sure, some of those registrations were due to the launch of the all-new Scala small car in January, which hit the market with attractive drive-away promotional pricing, but the Rapid-replacing model isn’t the only activity for the brand this year.

Skoda is looking to strike while the iron is hot in early 2021 with the next-generation Octavia, one of the only competitors left standing in the shrinking mid-size passenger car segment.

In fact, the Octavia is the second most-popular model in its class, behind only the Toyota Camry, and already eclipses the likes of the ageing Mazda6, Hyundai Sonata and Honda Accord in sales.

With the likes of the Ford Mondeo, Kia Optima and Subaru Liberty now discontinued, there is an even bigger opportunity for the Octavia to grow its share of the pie.

2021 will also be the first full year the new Kamiq small SUV is on sale, which launched late in 2020 to critical acclaim.

The 110TSI Monte Carlo flagship has just touched down in showrooms too, giving buyers more choice in the top-end of range.

And if these three models aren’t for you, Skoda still offers the Karoq mid-size SUV (which is now underpinned by torque converter automatic transmission instead of a dual-clutch unit), the Superb large sedan and wagon, the Kodiaq large SUV, and the Fabia hatch for the budget conscious buyer.

To help bolster its street cred, and shed the cheap-and-cheerful image it was known for in the past, Skoda even has a duo of performance-oriented RS models in the form of the Octavia and Kodiaq.

Adding more spice to the portfolio, the incoming Octavia RS will be available in sedan and wagon forms, underpinned by a 180kW/370Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission – the same set-up found in the closely related Volkswagen Golf GTI.

The Kodiaq RS meanwhile, is propelled by a 176kW/500Nm turbo-diesel engine, but will switch to a petrol engine in facelifted form as diesel continues to fall out of favour with buyers.

And all of this is backed by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, capped-price servicing, and a unique service and maintenance subscription plan.

The latter package allows owners to pay a monthly fee depending on maximum travel distance each year (up to 40,000km) that covers scheduled servicing and maintenance repairs items such as tyres, wiper blades, battery replacement and brakes.

It might be hard for Skoda to break into the top 10 brands in Australia without a one-tonne ute to take on the Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton and Ford Ranger, but the rest of its product line-up is broad, robust and well-priced enough to concern the likes of Suzuki and Renault.