Volkswagen’s Skoda is back in Singapore with just 4 models – here’s a look at its spanking new showroom

Ricky Tay, managing director of Volkswagen Group Singapore
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Remember Skoda?

The Czech automobile brand owned by Volkswagen had almost disappeared from the Singapore market after a less-than-spectacular history here.

Its third and last dealer, Harvest Automobiles, shuttered in 2013.

But now, Skoda is back. This time, with a very different look. Additionally, Volkswagen Group Singapore is directly importing and running all Skoda retail operations instead of handing it over to a third-party dealer.

Although Volkswagen Group Singapore had been taking care of the after-sales servicing for existing Skoda customers in Singapore, there was no indication of the group importing and representing the Skoda brand until late last year, when it registered the Skoda Centre Singapore business at Alexandra Road.

Direct dealership will mean better control of the ownership experience for Skoda customers, Ricky Tay, managing director of Volkswagen Group Singapore said.

Opening on Friday (Mar 23), the Skoda Centre at Leng Kee Road will feature just four Skoda models – Rapid Spaceback, Octavia, Superb and Kodiaq.

All the cars sold here are automatic transmission and come with a five-year warranty.

Targeting Singapore as one of its ‘Future 15’ markets, this is also the first Southeast Asian Skoda direct dealership.

Business Insider was invited for a sneak preview of the brand new showroom and its specially curated line-up of cars.

Here’s what we found.

The new Skoda showroom on Leng Kee Road sits just behind the Volkswagen showroom, which faces Alexandra Road.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Spanning 940 square meters, the new Skoda showroom is not huge but has a clean, modern look.

Introducing the new Skoda Centre, Mr Tay said the space was designed with Skoda’s European concept “Simply Clever” in mind.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

But at the same time, Skoda has chosen to market its cars here under the “Smart” concept, to represent its functional but stylish cars.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Speaking to Business Insider, Mr Tay said the “Smart” concept had been chosen specifically for the Singapore market based on findings of the company’s studies here.

Prior to launch, a series of studies was carried out with three groups of car buyers – existing Skoda customers, potential customers who are looking for a car, and customers who have bought from competitor brands.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

And after such a long break, Skoda is bringing its newer designs here. These are younger and smarter, and a represent great improvement from its predecessors years before.

“We look into very small things within the car… so the car is designed not just for transportation,” Mr Tay said of the brand’s “Smart” capabilities.

The Skoda Singapore portfolio of four cars was also shaped based on the survey findings, Mr Tay said, adding that more models could be introduced in future.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

As for why it took such a long time for Volkswagen to launch its own Skoda dealership, Mr Tay said: “A car is a luxury item in Singapore. So when a customer buys a car, it has to be a worry-free ownership.”

In the years leading up to Skoda’s comeback, the company has “improved a lot of different requirements, and we stressed on customer delight, more than customer satisfaction,” he said.

The difference is that customer delight goes beyond fulfilling the satisfaction of buying a product to provide “something extra that the customer doesn’t expect”.

The photo below shows a waiting and merchandise area for customers who visit the showroom.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Before the comeback, Mr Tay said he wanted to make sure the group could first address customer pain points, especially in terms of after-sales service.

To this end, Mr Tay will receive weekly reports from staff on issues reported by customers, so he can find out why the issues are there and how they can be solved.

“We need to really re-engage the Skoda customer (who previously bought cars from dealerships),” he said.

In the photo below is a corner of the showroom featuring Skoda-made accessories and add-ons customers can purchase for their cars.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

The return of Skoda comes at a time when the brand is reaching new heights in its 122-year history.

Last year, Skoda achieved a record of delivering 1.2 million vehicles worldwide.

According to Jato Dynamics, the Skoda Octavia was also the ninth best-selling car in Europe in 2017

The Octavia is a worldwide bestseller for the brand, with almost 419,000 deliveries in 2017 alone.

According to Skoda, the strengths of the upgraded version seen here (below) include a wide interior and boot space, functionality, safety technology and comfort.

It has a launch price of $109,400.*

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

The family-friendly Kodiak was clearly the centre of attraction when we visited on Thursday.

Being the brand’s first seven-seater SUV to launch last year, it is also a winner of the prestigious Red Dot Award. 

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

This model features a new front-end design that sports a large radiator grille and two double-headlights.

It was also voted best car for big families by the UK’s Top Gear Magazine. 

It has a launch price of $167,900.*

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Another model you’ll find in the Skoda showroom is the Rapid Spaceback, which is a compact hatchback with a 415-litre boot that also boasts a spacious interior.

It has a launch price of $103,400.*

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

And of course, you’ll also find the brand’s flagship model – the Superb.

According to Skoda, the Superb has the largest available space in its segment, and was previously awarded “Car of the Year” in many European markets.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

To date, Skoda has manufactured over 900,000 of the first, second and third generation versions of this sedan.

It has a launch price of $159,900.*

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

*All launch prices stated are accurate as of Mar 22, 2018.