Skoda 'could build Evoque rival'

* Style-led model could join SUV range * Seven-seat rival for Santa Fe too * Refresh due for current Yeti...

Skoda 'could build Evoque rival'

Skoda is set to expand its SUV line-up with a seven-seat model, plus a rival for the Range Rover Evoque and direct replacement for the current Skoda Yeti.

High-ranking sources at the Czech manufacturer have revealed to What Car? that a seven-seat SUV, (designed to take on the Hyundai Santa Fe) is the highest priority. The new car is likely to go on sale in 2015. It will be around 4.7 metres long and so be almost identical in length to the Skoda Octavia, with which it will share most of its mechanicals. As with the Hyundai, it will also be available in five-seat guise as a cheaper option, and it will also be offered with two- and four-wheel drive.

This car could also spawn a sportier, lower version that would be a cut-price alternative to the five-door Evoque. Introducing such a car would be a major test of Skoda's brand credentials, although the success of style-led models such as the Kia Sportage has shown that design can sell, even with value brands.

Lastly, Skoda bosses have confirmed that there will be a direct replacement for the Yeti. It will go up against the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, and follow the formula set by the current car.

In the meantime, expect to see a face-lifted version of the current Yeti within the next 12 months. It will get various quality and engine upgrades as well as a mild styling refresh to bring it into line with the new family style.

By Chas Hallett