VW's Czech brand will build its small SUV in time for an '09 launch
19 April 2007

Skoda's junior 4x4, the Yeti, is going to make production, Autocar has learned. The Czech car-maker will develop the new small 4x4, due on sale in mid-2009, using a mix of VW group architecture and componentry, so that when it comes to market, like so many of Skoda's models, it'll be a unque prospect for UK car buyers.Speculators have suggested that VW's Golf-based Tiguan 4x4 would make a fine basis for the small offroader, but instead Skoda will borrow some key modules like the VW’s four-wheel drive system, and mix them with other hardware sourced from elsewhere in the VAG Group.The Skoda Yeti will therefore be a smaller 4x4 than the market is used to. Instead of a rival for the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, it'll be aimed at softer targets as far apart as the Suzuki Jimny and new Nissan Qashqai.

Ploughing its own furrow

“Skoda will develop its own vehicle and its own concept. We need to find niches where we don’t compete with other group products from VW and Seat,” says Martin Hrdlicka, Skoda’s head of chassis development.The engineering process for the Yeti will follow a similar route to that of the Roomster mini-MPV, which mixes the front engine/axle and body structure of the new Fabia with the rear axle and body structure of the Octavia to make a vehicle unique in the VW Group model range.The Yeti name is a still a possibility for the production car, although the decision has yet to be taken. “It might be Yeti or it might not be,” says Hrdlicka.

Skoda's new breed

Whatever it ends-up being called, Skoda’s small 4x4 will be one of six new models from Skoda in the next three years, a process that by 2010 will see every car in the company's range renewed.First of the replacements is the new Fabia estate, due for reveal late this year with UK sales starting in spring 2008. With the sharper styling of the new Fabia and its rising beltine, the new estate is expected to be a sportier-looking model than the stodgy outgoing model.First of the all-new models is the Superb replacement, a vehicle based on a modified version of the current VW Passat. With sharper styling and a better quality interior than the existing Superb, the new model is expected to double UK sales to around 6000 a year, according to product marketing manager Warren Richards.After an Octavia facelift late next year, the Yeti 4x4 will be next in summer 2009, followed a year later by a facelift of the new Fabia. Late 2010 is another key date, when the Octavia is replaced by an all-new model based on the Golf’s PQ35 platform. As with the Fabia and Yeti, Skoda will use VW Group hardware and its own parts bin and create a distinctly different Octavia. The five-door hatch will keep its fast-back styling, leaving the Golf with a more traditional hatchback look.

What about a Skoda city car?

Skoda is still undecided about adding a new city car, in the mould of the Joyster concept, to its range; if it did, we wouldn't see it until 2011 at the earliest. “We are working on a number of concepts, with no decisions yet,” says Hrdlicka.One of the stumbling blocks is getting the business case to work. Although the Citroen C1/Peugeot 107/Toyota Aygo are made very close to Skoda’s Mlada Boloslav factory in the Czech Republic, the models are priced close to the Fabia, leading Skoda to believe that pricing a sub-Fabia hatchback profitably would be difficult. At this stage, however, it is ruling nothing out.

Julian Rendell

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