Rapid response

Electrification ups Skoda’s performance cred

RYAN LEWIS

ENTHUSIASTS are squarely in the frame to benefit from Skoda’s hybridisation plans, as illustrated by a plug-in hot-hatch from the Czech brand called Vision RS.

Revealed at the Paris motor show, the concept outwardly previews a new generation hatchback called Scala, due to launch in 2019 as an indirect successor to the Rapid Spaceback.

“It will not be the replacement of the Rapid Spaceback, but a totally new car,” Skoda product manager Thomas Bessonmagdelain told wheels.

The project will also spawn a small crossover to sit under Karoq and Kodiaq, as previewed by the Vision X concept at the Geneva show earlier in the year. Both models are based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB A0 platform, shared with Polo.

The latest concept runs a 180kW drivetrain comprising a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo engine and an electric motor, with a battery large enough to provide 70km of range in EV mode and the step-off acceleration to Sounds like a tasty recipe, though it’s hypothetical for now. The drivetrain is instead earmarked for larger vehicles.

“Now it’s purely a concept,” says Thomas. “But the hybrid system will be used on the Superb facelift with a launch date at the beginning of 2020. And the next Octavia – at the end of 2020, beginning of 2021. Not RS at the beginning, but maybe it will be developed after. If we have good sales for the normal hybrids.”

That said, Thomas suggested Scala RS could join existing Octavia and Kodiaq RS models in the short term, with power from the Polo GTI’s 147kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo four.

“It’s not confirmed. If it will be confirmed it will be launched the beginning of 2021. Engine like a Polo GTI, DSG only. For [the] crossover I think there will not be an RS version, only for Spaceback.”

What Scala will look like is largely revealed by the Vision RS, with Thomas saying the concept is “80 percent” representative of the production model, right down to its illuminated badging.

Redline

Stinger on shaky ground

The long-term fate of the Kia Stinger could be in doubt if sales expectations aren’ met in difficult markets. “Whether there will be a replacement [Stinger] is too early to say,” Kia’ head of design Gregory Guilliame told Aussie media. “Time will tell, it’ still a bit early but America needs to do volume. They need to sell the car,” Guilliame added. While Australians remain enthusiastic for the twinturbo sedan, supply constraints at a factory level have limited sales, with a three month wait for V6 models.

“It will be longer than a Golf with a bigger boot. It will be based on the [Polo] platform, with more soft touch materials in the interior. More technology, you will have blind spot detection, connected navigation, lane assistant, parking assistant.

On the crossover we will have the door edge protection like the Kodiaq. We will have the best boot for the category of Spaceback. Maybe not the best for crossover, but for Spaceback it will be the best.” A name beginning with K is expected for the crossover. As for a full reveal of Scala? Expect to see Skoda’s Golf alternative before the end of the year.

RYAN LEWIS