Insiders say that the new generation of hybrid-powered hot hatches are viewed by the VW Group’s technical and marketing teams as a crucial bridge in the move towards full electrification.
Winning over opinion-forming car enthusiasts with technology that highlights the advantages of electrification is said to be considered a central part of VW’s strategy to sell a million fully electric cars by 2025, by which time the firm says it will have 30 EVs on sale.
“We are not just flicking a switch and expecting people to move to fully electric cars – it is a process that will take decades, and we must help take people through the transition step by step by showing what the possibilities are,” said a source.
It is expected that VW Group marques will use their existing performance lines to promote the technology, rather than create new sub-brands, with Cupra and vRS expected to be pushed particularly hard by Seat and Skoda respectively.
Cupra is becoming a standalone performance arm next year, when the Ateca Cupra launches to complement the Leon Cupra, and the arrival of an electrified Skoda Fabia vRS could give the Czech-based manufacturer an opportunity to follow suit.
“The Fabia vRS was a lot of fun and I would love to be able to offer such a car today, but it is not going to be manageable for the next two to three years,” said Skoda CEO Bernhard Maier.
“For the next generation of Fabia, there could be an alternative – we could look at the opportunities a bit differently.” Asked if this meant electrification, Maier replied: “That would make sense, yes.” As yet, there are no details on what combination of engine and electrification would be used. Skoda still sells the highly regarded Octavia vRS and the Czech-based manufacturer has a vRS version of the new Karoq SUV in development to complement the VW T-Roc R.
However, a smaller fast hatch is seen as crucial to underpinning the vRS brand’s offerings by anchoring the new strategy of using electrification for greater performance in the car for which it is most famous.