Skoda has wasted no time unveiling its new Rapid Spaceback, revealed online just hours after releasing a set of telling teaser images.
The carmaker's local arm has also confirmed the Spaceback will be the first model in the Rapid range to hit Australia.
The sedan was expected to have debuted here by now, but switching to the Spaceback body - due in Europe from October and bound to be a more popular offering - has caused a delay in the Rapid's local launch timing.
Speaking with TMR today, Skoda Australia's Kurt McGuinness confirmed a first-half 2014 debut for the Spaceback, with the liftback sedan moved to the 'wait and see' list.
"We wanted to wait for this model before launching the Rapid as it sits in the larger small hatch market," Mr McGuinness said. "For now, we are just going to focus on our volume seller."
As expected, the Spaceback joins the Rapid range as something of a wagonette, satisfying hatch and wagon buyers both - without stretching the light car's wheelbase.
It's a familiar enough concept, with Audi's A3 Sportback treading the line between wagon and regular hatch, and Holden's popular Sportwagon merging the utility of a wagon with the Commodore's sedan wheelbase.
At 2602mm, the Spaceback's wheelbase is shorter than the sedan, and evolving into a hatch has made it 180mm shorter nose-to-tail.
Storage capacity in the Spaceback is listed at 415 litres, or 1380 with the rear seats laid flat. Those are good numbers, but they're actually less impressive than the Rapid liftback, which offers 550 and 1490 litres respectively.
The Spaceback shares much of its feature set with the sedan, with four petrol and two diesel engines to be offered - depending on the region and market.
In Australia, we can likely expect the Spaceback to be offered with the Volkswagen Group's familiar 77kW/175Nm turbo 1.2 litre four-cylinder petrol engine, along with the more powerful - and equally familiar - 90kW/200Nm turbo 1.4 petrol four.
The 66TDI diesel should also be among the Rapid Spaceback's local options, along with manual and DSG automatic transmissions.
Depending on trim grade and options, the Spaceback will also be offered with a panoramic glass roof, reaching from the windscreen to the rear window.
“The new Rapid Spaceback is a milestone for Skoda: it means that we are entering the strategically important segment of compact hatchback models,” Skoda CEO Winfried Vahland said.
“The Rapid Spaceback is a great addition to this class in that it combines Skoda’s good practical characteristics with the popular hatchback shape."
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