Piers Ward13 September 2013

Is Skoda about to get sportier?

We chat to the Czech firm's head of technical development about the future...

Could we be about to see sportier Skodas? If the Czech firm's head of technical development, Dr Frank Welsch, is to be believed, then yes.

Last month, Skoda CEO Dr Vahland dropped an intriguing hint suggesting that he'd got a couple of livelier Skodas in mind, and Welsch hasn't denied it at the Frankfurt motor show.

"The family focus will not change - Skodas will have lots of room and be good value. We'll keep those values, but have a bit more emotion with a sporty feeling."

What will this run to? A sporty SUV for starters. We're almost certain a more normal large 4x4 is coming - seven-seats, practical transport, based on a stretched version of the MQB platform - but in addition to this, one option Welsch suggests is a more raked roof-line for that car. Think BMW X6. Lose the rearmost seats, lower the suspension a bit, carve off a bit of boot space, job done.

There's also the possibility of an Octavia with a coupe-ish roofline (think a smaller VW CC). Again, still a five-seater and maintaining the Skoda ethos, but just with a slightly more exotic tilt. This way, Skoda can continue to offer the normal car, not spend a fortune on engineering unique models, while hopefully getting a bit of variety in their line-up. Emotion is the key word. However, this is all conjecture at the moment - Skoda confirms it's thinking about it, but isn't doing any more than that.

The weird thing is that while all this is going on - and as we told you last month - Skoda will drop the vRS when the new Fabia is launched next year. The Brits are the only ones that buy it, so it doesn't make any business sense. No great pity where the current vRS is concerned - a boring, Polo GTI-clone - but it's a shame Skoda won't try to recreate the left-field diesel Fabia vRS.

In other news, Welsch confirmed that a plug-in hybrid will appear, but not for a while. His reasoning is that Skoda is meeting all the VW Group's CO2 targets anyway, so why risk picking an eco strategy before you know which way the market is going. Reading between the lines, this seems to suggest a lot of caution at Skoda. They're happy to let the big boys - Audi and VW - forge the green path, and then Skoda can use the tech when the market is clearer.

Still, if that means they're concentrating on sportier models in the meantime, who are we to argue?

(Pictured: Skoda Rapid Sport)

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