AM Online

Superb flagship sails Skoda into uncharted territory

Skoda is on target to crack 40,000 sales in the new car market this year - two years ahead of schedule - as the company transforms customers' perceptions. Its new flagship, ambitiously named Superb, aims to be the final link that finally dispels the old jokes about Skoda quality.

The car name-checks the company's luxury model that was sold from 1934 until 1949. Chris Hawken, Skoda UK head of marketing, expects to sell between 850-1000 models in the UK this year - Superb goes on sale later this month priced from £14,200 - rising to 3000 in 2003.

“The Superb will help the public have a different take on the Skoda brand,” he says. “It proves we have changed - people would be mad not to consider the car because of the badge.”

Four engines will be available from launch, the turbo-charged 1.8-litre, 2.0-litre, 2.5 V6 TDI and 2.8 V6 petrol. The 100bhp and 130bhp 1.9 TDIs, likely to be the most popular options, will not be available until September. Diesel will dominate, accounting for 70 per cent of sales.

Eighty-five per cent of models will go to fleet and business sales customers, though dealers are confident the car will have a strong appeal to retail buyers. Hawken dismisses analysts' claims that Superb could dent Volkswagen Passat sales.

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