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Skoda ups the Superb line up

A new 103kW version of the Supurb will be more affordable at under $40,000.

The move acknowledges Skoda as a vital cog in the 10-brand VW machine and now gives it carte blanche to target the family market while the Volkswagen brand steps up to sit beneath Audi.

While it leaves Seat - the Spanish arm of Volkswagen - adrift as a specific segment producer, it's all good news for Czech-based Skoda. Expansion includes the introduction of Fabia and Yeti later this year, new Octavia by 2013 and more versions of the large-car Superb.

Superb gets another engine choice, this time the 103kW version of the existing - and ongoing - 125kW 2-litre unit. The power trim is enough to also cut back the bucks. In its front-drive format, Skoda Australia boss Matthew Wiesner says it will get the price down to the high $30,000s.

"For large car buyers wanting diesel in sedan or wagon, it's a great opportunity,'' he says. "Superb is in the large car segment that has a 20 per cent fall in sales - but I think that's more the local large cars falling in popularity rather than the others. I'm happy with the way Superb.is going.''

Wiesner says getting hold of diesels is difficult. "We can't get enough of the diesels,'' he says. "Superb is 35 per cent of our total volume. In the range, 65 per cent are wagons and 80 per cent of the wagons are diesel.''

The introduction of the smaller-output diesel is aimed at trimming back the price. On the specification sheet, the difference in power and torque between the 125kW and the 103kW isn't large. 

"We know that the 103kW will make the model more affordable - it will be under $40,000 - so will appeal to a bigger audience,'' he says. "We have the 125kW TDI now which has strong demand outside the fleet sector.

“In saying that, we see the advantages of being in fleet because it introduces the car directly to potential buyers - it's the 'bums on seats' mentality. For this reason we have put almost 300 cars with Europcar, on its rental fleet, and we've had a fair degree of success with that leading to sales of Superb and Octavia.''

The 103kW diesel will come as a front-wheel drive version from August and then in the new year as an all-wheel drive in both sedan and wagon. Wiesner says he sees similarity with Subaru in the marketing of Skoda.

"Subaru has a Liberty and an Outback as we have the Superb 2WD and a 4WD. In the same way, Octavia 4WD wagon would equate to the Impreza and the Octavia Scout would be the same as Forester.''