As you may remember, last year, Skoda India pulled the plug on its premium hatchback, the Fabia. The reason for doing this was that the car (codenamed SK250) was making huge losses on each unit it sold in our market. Despite numerous price cuts over the years, the Fabia never sold in numbers healthy enough to justify its continued sale in India.
The next-generation Fabia (codename: SK260), which will make its formal debut at the Paris motor show later this month, is built on VW’s flexible MQB platform. It’s larger all round with more sophisticated interiors, mechanicals and equipment. This would make it even more expensive than the last Fabia, and as a result, it too has been ruled out for sale in India.
However, Skoda still wants to fill the void that exists below the Rapid with a hatchback, Sudhir Rao, managing director, Skoda India told us. “We are experimenting with the Rapid facelift for India and if it succeeds, we will be confident about developing a Fabia-type hatchback which would have a mix of various platforms and components”
And rather than turn to a new platform like the VW Up-based Skoda Citigo, Skoda could do what many international carmakers have resorted to for the Indian market — using an existing platform that’s been localised and depreciated. Yes, Skoda will likely use the Rapid’s platform and mechanicals, develop an all-new hatchback and give it an all-new name.
The advantages of using an older platform are clear. As it no longer needs to meet tougher European crash test and safety standards, costs can be saved in the body structure of the car. And because it shares a lot of parts with the locally produced Rapid, VW Vento and Polo, localisation and cost-sharing will help bring the price down too. If this new hatchback gets the green light, however, it won’t hit showrooms before 2017 at the earliest. Till then, Skoda has to soldier on at the fringes of the market.