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Question marks over Skoda pricing

By Daniel DeGasperi, 22 Sep 2011 News

Question marks over Skoda pricing

Skoda is known as the VW Group’s value brand, yet this week the Fabia hatch launches in Australia with a price and equipment equation that is inferior to the equivalent Volkswagen Polo.

Skoda is known as the VW Group’s value brand, yet this week the Fabia hatch launches in Australia with a price and equipment equation that is inferior to the equivalent Volkswagen Polo.

Priced at $18,990, the Fabia 77TSI 1.2-litre petrol-turbo variant undercuts the Polo 77TSI by just $760. However the cheaper price also reflects a thinner equipment list. A five-speed manual is the only transmission available, while the Polo scores six cogs. 15-inch steel wheels are standard, and to match the Polo’s standard alloys, buyers will need to fork out another $990 – immediately making the Fabia more expensive when equipped to the same level. In fact, the Fabia’s only equipment advantages are standard fog lights and a full-size spare wheel. Skoda offers climate control as a $390 option, however Volkswagen packages climate with rain-sensing wipers, auto-dim rear view mirror and a tyre pressure monitor for just $500.

The value message clearly doesn’t reflect that of the Octavia mid-sized hatch, which is larger and better equipped than a Golf, for the same or less outlay.

This doesn’t make the Fabia a bad car; in fact quite the opposite. Our first drive on local roads indicates that it is a softer car than Polo, but in some ways all the better for it. Ride quality is excellent on wrinkly Aussie roads, and the steering feels meaty and natural. Even with a tall-geared five-speed manual, the small turbo-four feels punchy and torquey. We’ll have a full road-test report in the November issue of Wheels, out Wednesday November 19.

Light cars are big business in Australia, commanding 13% of the passenger car market so far this year. While the Fabia is expected to boost small-player Skoda’s overall volume, there’s only a very small carrot to tempt buyers away from the resale-security of the Volkswagen badge…