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No waiting list for Skoda Fabia RS

Unique proposition: The Fabia RS wagon gives Skoda a foothold in a niche segment in the Australian market.

Skoda Australia avoids waiting list with Fabia RS, models sales pitch on Mini

20 Jun 2012

SKODA Australia believes it has secured enough supply of the newly-released RS hot hatch to avoid the lengthy waiting lists that have beset parent company Volkswagen with its Polo GTI pocket rocket.

Since its launch in November 2010, buyers of the acclaimed Polo GTI have been forced to endure waiting lists of up to nine months due to a dearth of international supply. Even now, eighteen months after launch, Volkswagen Australia says GTI buyers are still waiting up to six months.

While the Polo is based on a newer platform, the Fabia RS shares many components with the baby Volkswagen including its peppy 132kW/250Nm twin-charged (turbocharged and supercharged) 1.4-litre petrol engine and seven-speed DSG semi-automatic transmission.

Director of Skoda Australia Matthew Wiesner told GoAuto at this week’s RS launch that the Czech company had already secured several hundred units of the RS, which dealers began receiving around two weeks ago.

“Our view is we want to create an impact pretty quickly, make sure our dealers can get them on the road pretty quickly, because they do stand out. It’s important to create that kind of road presence,” he said.

When asked if Skoda would seek to capitalise on prospective Polo GTI buyers frustrated by a lengthy wait, Mr Wiesner said that the company would look at all rivals – including its parent company – as potential sources, but stressed that it would also trade on Skoda’s relatively new-found focus on customisation and individualisation as a key point of difference.

29 center imageFrom top: Skoda Fabia RS hatch Fabia wagon.

“Whatever opportunity we can grab hold of, we will, with anyone for that matter. But they (VW) are quite different – if you look from hatch to hatch, they do stand quite differently, but I think the difference with ours will be that ability to individualise than approach,” he said.

Skoda Australia offers a range of extra-cost cosmetic options on the RS including black, white or grey wheels ($120) and contrasting roof colours ($390) enabling 26 different colour combinations, which it says allows buyers to better personalise their car.

Mr Wiesner said the company had been chiefly inspired by the BMW-owned Mini brand, which offers even greater levels of personalisation on its model line-up, and that Skoda would seek to emulate its approach at a lower price point.

It (Fabia RS) is a ‘mini-Mini’, if that makes sense – unashamedly. You can customise and create your own look. They’ve done it up there (higher price point), we’ve created an opportunity to do it in the Monte Carlo price range, and then RS takes it to another level,” he said.

With a starting price of $27,990 plus on-road costs, the Fabia five-door hatch is $1000 cheaper than the better-equipped Polo GTI, while the elongated wagon body-style – essentially a unique proposition in the Australian market – kicks off from $29,990 plus ORC.

Mr Wiesner said the level of interest in the quirky wagon from the public was higher than the company expected, with around half of early enquiries centred on the little load-lugger, and admits the company “might have under-called it a bit.”

However, he said there was scope to order more wagons and fewer hatches in the future, considering supply was determined largely by the availability of engines and transmissions, and that the factory could more easily adjust the ratio of body shells it produces.

“Wagon gives us something that no-one else has got down there, really. That's why the RS is going to be interesting as to where it settles down over the next few months, as to where in the volume mix it starts to grab hold,” he said.

“Whether its people looking at hot hatches attracted to the extra space and being able to chuck a bike on the roof, or some guys coming down from Octavia RS, perhaps, who don’t need a car of that size.”

The sporty RS was launched earlier this week as the headline act of an expansion of the entire Fabia range that also included the introduction of a DSG seven-speed automatic transmission to all variants and a wagon version of the entry-level 77TSI.

Mr Wiesner said the company had placed most of its emphasis on the RS version of the wagon, but believed a similar level of interest would begin to manifest for the base model, which – at $20,990 – stands alone as the only real wagon in its price point on the Australian market.

“Most of our interest so far has been in RS, but with the other model I think we’ll see it permeate down. If you look at the ‘flow’ we have now, you’ve got a Fabia wagon at around $21,000, then Roomster around $22,500, then Yeti at about $26,000 and Octavia at around $27,000, so you’ve got this nice step-up,” he said.

“We do well in that wagon space, so what we’re saying now to punters is that we now have an array of options in that $20,000-$30,000 space, and then we’ve got Superb even further up, so we can create a fairly broad spread of that style of vehicle.”

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