Skoda is set to embark on a new model blitz in order to reach its target of selling 1.5 million cars per year by 2018.
Inside sources at the highest level have confirmed a rash of new models is on the way, including an all-new seven-seat SUV which is on the brink of being given the green light by senior management. When it does, it is set to go on sale at the end of 2016, priced to compete with the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe.
It’s understood that the new SUV will be built using VW Group MQB architecture and, like the current Yeti, will be available in front- or four-wheel drive form. A five-seat configuration will be standard and a third row of seats that can fold away into the boot floor will be an option. It will be powered by existing VW group petrol and diesel engines, with a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine being the entry-level option.
Engineering sources have confirmed that four-wheel drive versions will have a "lots of off-road capability" with the expectation that it will be able to cope with quite testing conditions and have good towing credentials too.
The new model programme will start as early as this October, though, with the arrival of the all-new Skoda Fabia. The estate version, promising class-leading boot space for a supermini-derived wagon, will go on sale three months later.
Next year it’s also expected that we’ll see the arrival of the all-new Superb hatchback and estate. Again it will be build on MQB underpinnings and sources indicate that it will not be any longer than the current car. A significantly longer wheelbase and greater width will give both versions even more cabin and luggage space that the current offerings, though. The hatch version is also expected to drop the complex dual tailgate, in favour of a conventional fifth door.
The styling of the next-generation Superb is said to be heavily influenced by the recent Vision C concept, and so it will have crisper lines and the saloon will have a more coupé-like profile.
As before, the Superb will probably be offered in four-wheel drive form, although this third-generation model won’t have the option of V6 petrol or diesel engines. The range-topper is likely to be a 280bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol model.
Further out, Skoda bosses are mulling over a third SUV for the line-up which is likely to be a sportier crossover model, described by an insider as "a good-value BMW X4 or Range Rover Evoque". A baby Nissan Juke-rivalling car has been ruled out on the grounds that it can only be sold in Europe and can’t work in China.
Skoda bosses have also ruled out making niche models such as a sports car or coupé for the time being. It’s believed that the firm wants to get to 2018 targets only by operating in large established segments.