Skoda wants new Octavia to win both compact and mid-sized car buyers
Skoda will unveil its new Octavia at the Geneva auto show in March. The car will be larger than the current model to widen the gap from the brand's new Rapid compact, which went on sale in Europe in October. The new Octavia is 90mm longer at 1,782 mm and 45mm wider than the car it replaces with a 108mm longer wheelbase, allowing rear passengers more room. Skoda said the bigger size of the third-generation Octavia keeps the car in its unusual position of being larger than its rivals in the compact segment, such as the Ford Focus, Opel/Vauxhall Astra and the Golf from sister brand Volkswagen. Skoda also aims to win buyers from the mid-sized segment as the new Octavia is just 125mm shorter than the Ford Mondeo. The Octavia will be sold with a choice of four gasoline and four diesel engines with a natural-gas powertrain planned for later. The most-efficient model will be a 1.6-liter diesel with CO2 emissions of 89 grams per kilometer and fuel consumption of 3.4 liters per 100km. Despite its increased size, the Octavia weights 102kg less than the car it replaces. This is mainly due to the use of lighter materials, such as high-strength steels. The Octavia debuts some new safety systems for the brand such as the Adaptive Cruise Assistant, which automatically maintains a pre-set distance to the car ahead. The car will begin to roll out in European markets in January with a wagon version launching in the summer. The Octavia uses VW's new MQB (Modular Transverse Toolkit) platform that will underpin the majority of the group's front-wheel-drive models. The new Golf, Audi A3 and Seat Leon also use the architecture. The Octavia will be built alongside at the Rapid and Fabia subcompact in the brand's Mlada Boleslav factory in the Czech Republic, and also in Russia in partnership with GAZ Group. Skoda upgraded the capacity of the Octavia/Rapid production line in Mlada Boleslav to 1,200 cars a day from 800. Since 2007, the Octavia has also been built in China andndash; Skoda's largest single market andndash; in partnership with Shanghai Volkswagen. The Octavia accounts for about 44 percent of Skoda's sales and is key to the brand's goal of boosting worldwide sales to 1.5 million by 2018. In the first 11 months of 2012, Skoda reported that its global sales increased 7 percent to 873,000 units.