Skoda reveals baby hot hatch

Published: 19 September 2006

Skoda is making a bid to lead devlopment on the Volkswagen group's new small car, by unveiling this dynamic three-door design study, the Joyster.

The sub-Fabia sized hatchback would take on cars like the Citroen C2 and 2008 Ford Ka replacement. Skoda says the Joyster has decent interior space, and an airy feel thanks to a full-length sunroof. No word on engines – although transverse fourpots turning the front wheels are a dead cert – but the big bonnet bulge and deep bodykit mark out this as the flagship Joyster. Skoda could use a 125bhp 1.4-litre turbo or 140bhp 1.4-litre TSI engine to power any vRS hot version. The production Joyster – not expected before 2009 – could also spawn the new, entry-level VW Fox.

Skoda product planners believe this area of the market is core territory for them, and vow that they could build the pair as cheaply as VW's Mexico plant, where the Fox is currently assembled. 'This is basic transportation at its best, and that's a core Skoda competence,' a chief strategist told CAR Online. 'As 2006's new Fabia is about to move up half a notch, we are actively looking for a new entry-level model.' Since a new three-door Polo is increasingly unlikely to happen, Skoda could easily fill this void. In addition, the same platform matrix could be used for a compact four-door saloon, a five-door Combi and perhaps even a pick-up. Seat and VW have abandoned these niches, but there is still money to be made in this territory for Skoda. Especially in Eastern Europe, the VW group needs new basic transportation concepts to compete against rivals from Hyundai and Kia, and Renault with the Logan. Fiat and Ford are developing successors to the Ka and 500, while Toyota, Citroen and Peugeot launched their joint city car in 2005. The main argument for Skoda leading the bargain basement model is its Czech manufacturing base's excellent productivity and cheap labour costs (€5 per hour compared with €25 in Germany). The workforce is skilled, production is flexible and component sourcing cheap.

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