So it's a Skoda, but hey, I liked this car. There are some nice touches, such as the dashboard which is in the "sportster" circular-dial genre, and the glove compartment which allows for maximum room and accessibility. And, even though I am over 6ft, I found there is ample head and leg room. It seems happy enough whether idling in traffic or scooting along the motorway. And it is a fairly quiet mover, even at the top speed of 90mph. The only notable problem was the gearshift, which I found sloped a bit too far to the left - it was hard work changing down into first and second. The drawbacks: no airbags and low cred-rating. But it made me feel rather good to be showing several generations of jokers how they are going to have to eat their words.
The expert's view
This is a grown-up car. Were it not for the badge, many people would not fathom that the Felicia is a Skoda. Volkswagen, now the Czech company's major shareholder, has triggered the transformation, but the Felicia is as much a Czech creation as a German one, and it uses many components from its Favorit predecessor (including the dated but handsome all-aluminium engine). Unlike the Favorit, however, the Felicia is cohesively designed and well built out of good materials. It is also a pretty good drive, more absorbent of bumps and bends than a Favorit and with a much more positive feel to its controls. The body leans a lot in corners and the steering is somewhat slow and stodgy, but overall the Skoda strings its act together fluidly. Where it really scores is in space per currency unit. It is priced at the level of a supermini, but in size terms it bridges the gap between, say, a Polo and a Golf. A recent survey showed that Skoda dealers were among the happiest motor traders in the land, up there with the likes of Mercedes. The Felicia, a genuine alternative to mainstream European hatchbacks, will make them even happier.
Fiat Punto 55S 5-door, pounds 6,988 Bold looking, eager and spacious, although you feel too many bumps.
Ford Fiesta 1.1 Azura 5-door, pounds 7,415 Too expensive. A revamped version is around a year away.
Seat Ibiza 1.0 CL 3-door, pounds 6,395 Sluggish performance. The Skoda offers more for the money.
Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 Merit 5-door, pounds 7,395 Space and build quality are good, torpid performance is not.
Volkswagen Polo 1.0 L 5-door, pounds 7,449 Solid, likeable, not fast, but fun.
Skoda Felicia LXi, pounds 6,399
Engine: 1289cc, four cylinders, 68bhp at 5,500rpm. Five-speed gearbox, front wheel drive. Top speed 93mph, 0-60 in 13.7 seconds. Fuel consumption 37-42mpg.Reuse content