► Skoda pins hopes on new SUV duo
► Kodiaq arrives in March 2017
► Yeti becomes SUV, January 2018
Skoda is preparing to launch a pair of new SUVs which will transform the business, according to the UK chief - but also quash some of the brand's quirky distinctiveness.
The new Kodiaq - Skoda's seventh model range - will be shown at the 2016 Paris motor show in September and will reach British dealerships in March 2017. It'll be followed in early 2018 by a new Yeti and CAR's new spyshots in our gallery above prove it'll abandon its Tonka toy looks for a blander crossover look.
Click here to find out why Skoda named its SUV Kodiaq.
SUV #1: the Skoda Kodiaq in detail
The larger of the two SUVs, the Kodiaq, won't be shown in full until just before its debut in Paris, but we have obtained the latest spyshots of the Kodiaq and some key details about the crossover:
- Skoda's SUV is 4.7m long
- Rivals Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan X-Trail
- Seven-seater option available
- UK is deciding whether to take five-seater
- Petrol and diesel engines at launch
- Hybrid to follow, after Superb's 2019 PHEV launch
James Snowden, Skoda UK's product marketing manager, said this crossover sector had grown by 20% every year for the past five years. 'We think it will account for 370,000 UK sales in 2016. SUVs continue to capture the imagination of the public.'
The Kodiaq will closely follow the look of the Vision S concept car (above). That car was a six-seater, but look out for some of the clever touches of the show car - it had mobile connectivity and ports for each seat, which sounds achievable for production.
Buoyed by the arrival of the Kodiaq, Skoda looks set to close in on 100,000 UK sales within the next couple of years. UK director Duncan Movassaghi told CAR: 'We sold around 75,000 cars last year; that should start with an "8" in 2016 [double Skoda's UK sales total in 2010]. The Kodiaq will only drive our growth forwards and we think it'll appeal to both private buyers and fleet choosers.'
He added that the company forecast greater 4x4 take-up than rivals, since Skoda already saw all-wheel drive versions of the Octavia proving more popular than market averages.
SUV #2: the Skoda Yeti quits the quirk, becomes a proper crossover
The Yeti, meanwhile, will be transformed for its Mk2, which will be shown in autumn 2017 before going on sale in the UK in January 2018.
Our latest spy photos (below) prove that it will lose its distinctive, Tonka-toy status and become more of a VW Tiguan clone - which seems a shame. The Mk1 Yeti has built up a loyal following and looks unlike anything else on sale.
However, Skoda top brass are adamant the more conventional style will prove less divisive and appeal to a wider audience.
Skoda Roomster RIP
The new focus on SUVs comes at the expense of the unusually styled outgoing Roomster. It was quietly withdrawn from UK sale in 2015 and is no longer available; the UK will not import its successor (below), the disappointingly badge-engineered reskin of the VW Caddy.
Movassaghi said the market had moved on. 'We have no plans to sell the new Roomster in the UK; it was only ever a few thousand units here, no more than 4000-5000 at its peak. The MPV sector is shrinking. It's all about SUVs for us from now on.'
Sounds like good business sense to us. But the enthusiasts in us rue the loss of some of the quirkier models in Skoda's portfolio. Reflects the austerity vibe in Wolfsburg down to a tee.