Is the Fabia Scout Skoda’s attempt at a sub-10 lakh SUV for India?

Recently CarToq had reported that Skoda is planning to launch a sub-10 lakh SUV for the Indian market and also the Fabia Scout Station Wagon. But now there are speculations that the sub-10 lakh SUV which Skoda had planned for India could be the Fabia Scout itself.

But will consumers accept the Skoda Fabia Scout as an SUV or will they call Skoda’s claim a bluff? Related: Skoda Fabia Scout India launch soon

Traditionally an SUV must have a 4×4 driving system, large interiors with a seating capacity of at least over four, high ground clearance and decent handling off road. However what Skoda may be hitting at is the fact that the Fabia Scout looks a ‘little’ like a soft-roader.

skoda fabia scout photo
Photo: Skoda Fabia Scout

Based on the dimensions of the Fabia Scout (in other markets), we expect the Scout to have interiors that will fit only five occupants (like its sibling; the Yeti SUV). But the Fabia Scout will likely come with a 4×4 driving system, thicker tyres and higher ground clearance. All these features will give it a dash of off-road ability.

The Fabia Scout also features plastic cladding all around the lower half, has flared wheel arches and the bumpers sport skid plates at the bottom. These subtle tweaks could be what Skoda considers a way to justify the Scout’s self-proclaimed SUV tag. Also read: Skoda Rapid sedan India launch soon

But for most people the Skoda Fabia Scout is a station wagon or an estate, and to pull off the SUV tag the car will need more than plastic cladding!

Unlike the Skoda Fabia, the Fabia Scout is built on Volkswagen’s Cross Polo platform suggesting possible changes in the mechanical parts for better handling. With the lengthened body, the company will plonk in a bigger (Possibly a 1.6 litre diesel) motor under the Fabia Scout’s hood.

The 1.6 litre diesel engine could be sourced from the Volkswagen Vento. This engine is well known for its refinement, urban drivability and also for consistent mileage, and that’s reassuring for Fabia Scout customers.

All these things indicate that Skoda’s sub ten lakh SUV will likely be another model altogether, since the Scout does not fit the SUV bill at all.

The Indian market has given a warm response to cars that belong to traditional body shapes such as hatchbacks, sedans and SUVs. But the new segments such as crossovers and station wagons such as the Fiat Palio Adventure and the Tata Indigo Marina have not attracted buyers. Maruti also tried selling a station-wagon model with the Baleno Altura, but it didn’t find too many buyers. General Motors too had a station-wagon – the Opel Corsa Swing, which again died a silent death.

Thinking on this line, it would be a great challenge for Skoda Auto to promote, advertise and reach the customers if the Fabia Scout is to be their sub-10 lakh SUV.

The Renault Duster, which will likely be launched in early 2012 at an expected price of Rs. 7 lakh, seems to be a more viable option as against the Fabia Scout ‘SUV’. The Duster has a conventional SUV body and ‘macho’ looks, which will automatically attract image conscious buyers.

The Skoda Fabia Scout has to create its own market space unlike hatchbacks and sedans which have an evergreen demand in the Indian car market. So far, customers either go for MPVs for practicality or SUVs. But for most they are ‘status symbols’ and a Scout in the driveway won’t really win you many votes.