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The Felicia was an early sign of what was to come from Skoda under Volkswagen ownership. It marked a step up in quality and image for the Czech car maker.

Based on the chided Favorit, the Felicia got an all-new interior, new running gear to accommodate Volkswagen engines and a much needed hike in build quality. It was also 40mm longer and 15mm wider.

The 1.3 GLXi launch model used the Favorit’s eight-valve pushrod four-pot and slightly notchy five-speed manual, but urgent throttle response enabled decent urban progress. The engine was raucous over 5000rpm, but early torque delivery limited the need to reach for such heights. The brakes (front discs, rear drums) performed well but lacked ABS.

Front struts and a rear twist beam served up fairly flat and composed handling, while skinny tyres gripped well. The Skoda was no match for French hatches on twisty roads, though, largely due to feel-free, inconsistently weighted steering. Ride quality was good, with only sharp bumps upsetting the chassis. Interior ergonomics, comfort and materials impressed, as did its passably modern dash design. Cabin space was good, too.

For Low price, tidy handling, cabin space, comfy ride

Against Noisy engine, no airbag, heavy steering

What happened next?

New engines from Volkswagen were soon introduced, consisting of a 75bhp 1.6-litre petrol and a 63bhp 1.9 diesel. Modern safety staples such as airbags and ABS came later, too, as did an estate bodystyle. The Felicia sold well in the UK thanks to its competitive pricing, especially among lowerspec models. It was replaced in 2001 by the Fabia, which used a Volkswagen Group platform.

Factfile

Price £7699

Engine 4 cyls in line, 1289cc, petrol

Power 68bhp at 5500rpm

Torque 74lb ft at 3750rpm

0-60mph 13.5sec

0-100mph na

Standing quarter mile 19.4sec, 71mph

Top speed 97mph

Economy 35.7mpg

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