Skoda lifts the entry-level game

By Barry Park, 27 Jun 2016 Car News

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Skoda Octavia

No one bought the cheapest Skoda Octavia liftback, so the carmaker has decided to reset its benchmark

Skoda has thrown everything it has at its entry-level Octavia liftback and wagon as it tries to recast the brand as a bridge between mainstream and premium. 

Launched last week, the facelifted Octavia sticks to its $22,490 starting price for a six-speed manual Ambition. 

However, while the previous entry-level model looked like a price leader, with cheap steel wheels, no driver’s armrest and lacking cruise control, the new one sets the benchmark with alloy wheels and active cruise control, which includes autonomous emergency braking

Skoda Octavia

“The base model hardly ever sold, so we’ve combined the [former entry level] Ambition [specification] with the Ambition Plus [the next model up the range],” Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer said. “We’ve now gone further and added even more value to Octavia.” 

The facelift also brings a reversing camera linked to parking sensors, daytime running lights, front and rear foglights and sits on 17-inch alloy wheels. According to the carmaker, it has added more than $4200 in value to the Octavia Ambition as part of the update. 

Skoda says it has realised that by giving a bit more to customers, those same customers will often load up the car with more options. It’s a trend the carmaker has noticed with the Octavia’s larger sibling, the Superb, which enjoys a strong customer take-up of optional packages, on top of the base car. 

Skoda Octavia

“With Superb, the big seller is the 162TSI wagon and sedan with all the packs, so we knew we wanted a high mix of specifications for the Octavia,” Irmer said. 

The packages take-up for the Superb is so high, that two in every five cars sold rolls out of the showroom “fully loaded”, Irmer said, with both the driver aid-laden Tech and keyless entry Image pack. 

“Looking at Superb, the single most model sold is priced at just shy of $50,000, so we’ve specified the Octavia accordingly.” 

Skoda Octavia interior

According to Skoda, seven out of every 10 sales the brand makes are people walking in from other brands. 

The carmaker will also start to offer buyers a two-year leasing deal – similar terms to a mobile phone plan – where customers can use the car for about two years, and either return it to Skoda for a guaranteed price or step into another model. 

The Skoda Choice program is designed to help the brand keep resale values – a noticeable weak point for Skoda in Australia – from falling too far below market averages.