Skoda is punching hard as it lifts its profile, firing up cars as small as its budget-priced Citigo city car - expected here around February - and the new mid-size Rapid that will be on sale mid-year and take on the Mazda3, Ford Focus, Holden Cruze and Toyota Corolla.
The entry of the Rapid - a Volkswagen Polo-based liftback - also opens the door to the 2013 Octavia that grows in size to dimensions shared with rivals including the Ford Mondeo and its own cousin, the Passat. Carsguide drove the five-door Citigo in Portugal earlier this year and was impressed by the compact car's ability to mix nimble inner-city handling with 120km/h open-road touring.
The Citigo is Skoda's take on the Volkswagen Up, which is expected to go on sale in Australia before this Christmas. Skoda Australia spokesman Karl Gehling says that, officially, the Citigo is still "under consideration''. But significant legwork has been done by Skoda to make the car fit into its Australian line up. It could be here by February and carry a price tag of about $15,000.
The Rapid - which borrows its name from Skoda's sporty, rear-engined two-door model made from 1984 to 1990 - is almost the same size as the current Octavia. It is almost identical to the MissionL (CORR) concept car first shown by Skoda at last year's Frankfurt motor show and then at last month's car show in Beijing.
Australia will get the Rapid from the Czech factory and not from Skoda plants making the car in India or, from next year, China. It will come with a choice of Volkswagen drivetrains, the most likely a 1.4-litre and 1.8-litre turbo-petrol and 2-litre turbo-diesel. The Rapid inherits the Octavia's liftback - a large hatch that makes it look like a sedan - and variable seating for SUV-like flexibility to make it a hit with families. Skoda hints that it will have a wagon version within a year of the liftback's launch.
The arrival of the Rapid will kick start the launch of the bigger Octavia, giving Skoda by the end of 2013 an incremental model line-up from this car down to the Rapid, Fabia and Citigo. Skoda CEO Winfried Vahland told Carsguide at the Citigo launch in February that there were also plans for a larger SUV based on a platform similar to the Audi Q5. That SUV, to complement the Yeti and Octavia Scout, won't be seen until late 2014.