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Skoda has become a closer competitor to parent company Volkswagen.

When Skoda arrived in Australia (most recently) in 2007 it was meant to be a cheaper alternative to a Volkswagen brand that was moving upmarket. As Volkswagen moved up to be a ‘semi-premium’ brand and steal sales from more-established European premium brands, Skoda would do battle with the likes of Toyota, Hyundai and Mazda.

At least that was the original plan.

Fast forward to 2022 and picking the differences between Skoda and Volkswagen is becoming increasingly challenging – at least when it comes to prices and positioning. Skoda has repositioned itself over the last 15 years since it arrived, instead of trying to compete on price and value, it now sems like Skoda is a peer with Volkswagen selling in the same ‘semi-premium’ space.

The new Fabia city car is perhaps the best example of Skoda’s rise and rise. While the previous model had an entry-level 70TSI variant available from $18,390 (plus on-road costs), the new-for-2022 Fabia starts at $37,990 driveaway.

The reason for that, as we’ve outlined in a previous story, is Skoda Australia’s decision to opt for a single high-grade specification – the Monte Carlo Edition 150. This was a decision taken when the brand was faced with limited supply and decided that, based on history, focusing on its more premium-orientated customers made the most sense.

“We could have 600 only, and we could either have 600 cars with hubcaps or 600 which look totally slick,” Skoda Australia brand director, Michael Irmer, told CarsGuide.

This mentality has stretched across the range though. And while Skoda still remains well behind Volkswagen in the sales race (year-to-date to July Skoda has sold only 3758 to VW’s 15,077 due to supply issues), it’s clear from the pricing and positioning of the Czech models, it’s now closer than ever to its parent brand.

The Fabia Monte Carlo Edition 150 starts at $37,990 driveaway, while the Volkswagen Polo GTI costs $38,750 (plus on-road costs), which is telling because the Skoda is a ‘standard’ car with a styling package, while the Volkswagen is a genuine hot hatch with a 147kW/320Nm engine.

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Step up a class and the Skoda Scala Ambition with its 1.0-litre engine is priced from $32,190 (plus on-road costs), compared to $34,690 (plus on-road costs) for the entry-level Golf 110TSI. And that’s not all, because the range-topping Scala Signature is actually more expensive than its Golf equivalent, priced from $40,390 (plus on-road costs) compared to $39,990 (plus on-road costs) for the Golf 110TSI R-Line.

It’s a similar story when you look at SUVs too, with Skoda undercutting its Volkswagen equivalent by very small amounts while often having different (typically smaller) powertrains. For example, the Skoda Kamiq Style with 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine starts at $34,990 (plus on-road costs), while the Volkswagen T-Roc 110TSI Style with a 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine is priced from $35,500 (plus on-road costs) – that’s only a $510 difference. 

Then at the top of the range there’s the Kodiaq versus the Tiguan Allspace, with Skoda’s entry-level seven-seat SUV is the Kodiaq Style at $51,490 (plus on-road costs), while the closest Volkswagen rival is the Tiguan Allspace 132TSI Life that costs $48,590 (plus on-road costs) – which means the VW is $2900 cheaper.

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Keep in mind both the aforementioned Kodiaq and Tiguan Allspace make use of the same 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system.

Obviously there are specification differences between all these models, but the fundamental point remains – the dynamic between Skoda and Volkswagen has changed. 

While the Czech brand will never be as popular as its German parent, the reality is when you’re shopping for these models you will almost certainly end up comparing these two, closely-related options.

And if you’re not, you should be.

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