Powered by
Subscribe to the only car newsletter you’ll ever need

Hierarchy of Volkswagen, Skoda, Cupra & Audi clarified as Seat retirement initiated


Volkswagen, Skoda and Cupra to effectively be equal in status with different focus themes – while Audi remains the premium brand on top

The four effectively mainstream brands of the Volkswagen Group will work in a flattened pyramid structure differentiated by design and driving signature variations in future.

Audi will continue to be the Volkswagen Group’s major semi-premium to mid-level luxury brand – it’s above Volkswagen, Skoda or Cupra.

Volkswagen naturally has special status within the Group – but it is not ‘above’ Skoda or Cupra in positioning

The trio of brands is not distinctly stratified in terms of price.

Separately, the Group’s luxury marques Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley continue to sit at the top with a focus on high-end segments.

Skoda is no longer a budget alternative to Volkswagen

Old class differentiations between Volkswagen and Skoda have dissolved, according to Skoda global chief executive officer Klaus Zellmer.

Since Skoda’s entry into the Volkswagen Group in the early 1990s until relatively recently, it was clear that the Czechia-based Skoda was positioned as a downmarket cousin of Volkswagen.

2024 Skoda Kamiq front 3/4 driving shot
Skoda says value remains important – but that it’s at ‘eye-level’ with Volkswagen in status terms

“I think we are now on eye-level,” said Zellmer, referring to Volkswagen and Skoda.

“Value for money is always important for Skoda and it will remain important.”

Affordable Seat brand’s retirement flagged

Responsibility for entry-level affordable mobility within the Volkswagen Group had been assigned to Seat – the Spanish brand that spawned Cupra. Seat’s range of small cars and SUVs is sold in Europe and New Zealand.

That was until Seat-Cupra chairman Thomas Schäfer appeared to signal the impending retirement of the Seat brand.

Seat Leon 2023 blue hatchback-1
Cupra Leon V 2023 front 3/4 2
Seat spawned Cupra, but the latter will subsume the former. Pictured: Seat Leon (top, in blue); Cupra Leon (bottom, in white)

Speaking with UK publication Autocar, Schäfer said that “the future of Seat is Cupra” and indicated that “a different role” would be found for the Seat name in future.

Chasing Cars understands that the Seat badge will be deployed on other forms of electric mobility solutions in future, including of the two-wheeled variety, while Cupra will eventually take over vehicle development and sales.

Volkswagen, Skoda & Cupra as equivalents with differing themes

That will leave Volkswagen, Skoda and Cupra as three equivalent-tier brands servicing different parts of the mainstream segment.

Volkswagen will remain a palatable brand for a wide variety of tastes, with Skoda taking a more pragmatic approach – without pursuing budget prices – while Cupra will continue to market sporty vehicles with mid-market price tags.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace R-Line
Volkswagen, as a brand, has the broadest remit in the Group

“The bubble that [Volkswagen sells to] is the broadest,” says Volkswagen brand head of design Andreas Mindt. “What we want is to achieve tasteful cars.”

Skoda will continue building cars that target pragmatic segments, says CEO Klaus Zellmer.

“I think it’s a good balance between attractiveness in terms of optics, drivetrains and performance,” Zellmer said of Skoda’s RS range in particular.

Skoda Octavia RS and Style 2022
Skoda will continue to focus on more pragmatic shapes, and its RS sub-brand

Very high performance vehicles will be left to Volkswagen’s R division and Cupra, Zellmer says.

Cupra will retain a focus on “design, performance and emotion,” according to its chief executive Wayne Griffiths.

“We don’t want to be a volume brand. We don’t need big volumes. We don’t want to do cars that everybody likes – we want to do cars that some people love.

Cupra Formentor VZ 2022 rear 3/4
Cupra will continue to focus on sporty mainstream models (pictured: Formentor)

“When we had Seat, there was a lot of substitution. Let’s say it was a cheaper version of the Volkswagen. And now with Cupra, that’s all gone. Our customers are totally different.”

Design to be a key Volkswagen Group strength: CEO

While design is a specific focus for Cupra, differentiation by design has been affirmed as a major theme for the Volkswagen Group as it adds more electric platforms and models to its portfolio.

At a media preview in advance of the 2023 IAA Munich motor show, Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume said that Volkswagen brands would become design powerhouses in the electric era.

“What [Blume] said that the key to the success of the Group is design, that for me is like honey. It’s what we are doing – we are the design company,” reflected Cupra CEO Griffiths.

Chasing more Audi?

Related articles