New Skoda Octavia to grow bigger
The next Octavia will sit on the new 'modular' chassis that’s been developed across the Volkswagen Group. Called MQB, it made its debut at the recent Geneva motor show, underpinning the latest Audi A3.
However, while the A3, the forthcoming Mk7 Volkswagen Golf and Seat’s next Leon use the 'default' length of MQB chassis, Skoda is planning to use a slightly stretched version for the Octavia. It's likely to take the car’s length much closer to the 4.8m mark, making the Octavia a rival (on size, at least) with the Ford Mondeo. That, in turn, will enhance one of the current car’s strongest selling points: its huge loadspace.
It’s also likely to nudge the Octavia’s price slightly higher – but Skoda will counter this by offering the Rapid, a five-door hatchback with saloon-like styling. The sister car to Seat’s reborn Toledo (revealed at Geneva), the Rapid will be deliberately closer in size to the original Octavia, which made its debut in 1994 and is still sold in selected countries.
Dr Winfried Vahland, Skoda’s chairman, said: 'The original Octavia was such an important car for Skoda, and for me, its dimensions were perfect.
'It was an ideal size not only for first-time car buyers but particularly for families who could only afford one car. We’ve kept that with the Octavia that is on sale now but the new one will be a bit roomier again.
'So, the new compact car will have the same dimensions as the original Octavia; it’ll be a good-value, spacious car, with nice quality. The luggage capacity will be above that of the competition, too.'
A version of the Rapid is already on sale, in India, but European-market cars will get a hatchback instead of a boot, and a heavily revised interior. Like the Toledo, the Rapid hatchback will be sold on a 'lots of space for not much cash' value ticket; its luggage capacity is likely to match that of the Seat, for example, at more than 500 litres.
The European-spec Rapid will be revealed in the summer, before a public debut at the Paris motor show in September.
UK sales will start in early 2013, so the car will share showroom space with the current Octavia for a few months; the next generation of that car isn’t due to be revealed until the Geneva show in March 2013.
Vahland also ruled out a Skoda MPV – but hinted strongly that a larger, seven-seat version of the Yeti is on the cards. 'I don't want to do cars that only appeal to one area of the world market,' he said. 'A big SUV is a type of car that can sell to global buyers; demand for that type of car is still rising, everywhere. I see a lot of people switching from MPV to SUV.'