Once the butt of various jokes from playground to workplace, no automotive brand could match Skoda for contempt and derision in the UK in the early 90s.
That was then, and this is now. In the many decades since it made its way to the UK, Skoda has slowly reinvented itself to become a solid and inspired choice for motorists with some of the most popular car models available.
A brief history of Skoda
With the above in mind, and nothing being more embarrassing to a 90s school child than whether your parents were considering buying a Skoda, it might interest you to know that the brand was once considered ‘the Rolls Royce of Eastern Europe’ such was the level of luxury offered.
While the company weathered the storm of the economic depression in the early 1930s, the occupation of Czechoslovakia in World War II saw their factories used by Nazi Germany to produce planes and weaponry.
Things didn’t return to normal post-war for the brand either, with Czechoslovakia becoming a satellite state of the Soviet Union resulting in Skoda being nationalised. Throughout these early beginnings and through the Cold War period, Skoda introduced some of their most famous models including the Rapid, Superb, Felicia and Octavia.
In 1991, soon after the return of democracy to Czechoslovakia, Volkswagen Group bought a 30 percent stake in Skoda. This was boosted to 60 percent in 1994 before completing its acquisition in 2000. And it was at this point that the great rebrand of the maligned manufacturer began.
Skoda are currently prepping for the launch of the fourth generation of their popular supermini, retaining a lot of the points that made it such a popular car when it was originally launched in 1999.
Building on the strength of its predecessors, the new Fabia is the most spacious car within its segment and the fourth-generation model continues this tradition. At 4,108mm long, it exceeds the four-metre mark for the first time, while the boot – which was already the largest in the segment – has gained an additional 50 litres to a capacious 380 litres.
It delivers a range of new comfort features in addition to a plethora of new safety and assistance systems including front assist and lane assist.
As one of the most practical cars in its class, the Skoda Scala has received rave reviews since its launch in 2019 with Auto Express stating it’s their favourite family hatchback.
Plugging a gap between the smaller Fabia and larger Octavia, the Scala is 4,362mm in length, 1,793mm in width and 1,471mm high leaving plenty of space for adult passengers front and rear.
With four trim levels to choose from – entry-level S, then SE, SE L and top-spec Monte Carlo – value is perhaps the Skoda Scala’s biggest attraction undercutting its nearest rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra.
For that, you get 16-inch alloys, air-con, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, LED headlights and electrically-adjustable heated mirrors as standard.
Perhaps the most recognisable model in the Skoda range, or at least the one that helped turn around perceptions of the brand, the Octavia is rightly called the ‘heart and engine’ of Skoda and as such remains one of the most popular car models available.
Available in hatchback and estate form, the Octavia is famed for being stylish, spacious and safe. Now in its fourth generation, the current edition builds on the success of the previous models by continuing to offer great value, low running costs, faultless practicality and a comfortable drive.
Not only that but it has also been given a more sleek look with up to date safety and convenience features. It’s grown too, adding 19mm to its length and 15mm width.
Having been named Auto Express Car of the Year in 2020 and the Octavia iV winning Best Hybrid Estate at What Car? Electric Car of the Year Award, it’s a model that goes from strength to strength.
The Skoda Superb is an executive car that offers an interior that ensures you always travel in business class whether you’re driving or a passenger. Built for those who are always on the move, it features a cutting-edge design on the outside and luxurious style on the inside.
Noticeably Octavia-esque, though slightly bigger believe it or not, Skoda’s flagship vehicle offers plenty of space on top of sleek styling and great value. Even better, it’s comfortable and refined whether you’re doing the driving or relaxing in the back.
Most recently facelifted in 2019, the Superb won both Estate Car of the Year and Best Executive Car of the Year at the 2021 What Car? Awards. With size, space, value as well as interior tech and a stylish design, what’s not to love?
And now for Skoda’s more modern offering. While the Kodiaq was Skoda’s first foray into the growing popularity of the SUV/crossover sector, the Kamiq is their smallest offering in the segment and also one of the newest Skoda car models.
Continuing the theme of the brand and their other offerings in this guide (practicality, comfort, value), the Skoda Kamiq’s uniqueness comes from its size. While it offers similar dimensions to the Volkswagen T-Cross and Seat Arona due to all models sharing the same platform, it’s big enough to serve as an alternative to any hatchback on the market and ideal for those wanting a more fashionable styled vehicle.
As standard, the Kamiq offers 16-inch alloys, LED headlights, roof rails, a leather steering wheel and a 6.5-inch infotainment system while only one engine (1.0 TSI manual) is available across the range.
A stylish mid-sized SUV/crossover, the Skoda Karoq is one of the most popular car models introduced by the brand with more than half a million units produced since its launch in 2017.
Replacing the much loved Skoda Yeti, the all-new Karoq is the brand’s second most popular model overall after the Octavia and it’s easy to see why. Refreshed in 2020, it offers a generous amount of space and the type of functionality that has become synonymous with the brand. Its blueprint is based on the larger Kodiaq with active and passive safety, numerous assistance systems, even better comfort and a wealth of advanced connectivity features.
With a variety of petrol and diesel engines on offer, the Karoq has won back-to-back Best Family SUV at the What Car? Car of the Year Awards in 2020 and 2021.
The biggest SUV offering from Skoda, the Kodiaq is a seven-seater 4×4 that can do it all.
Ideal for big families who go on big adventures, the Kodiaq is the perfect blend of practicality and usability, coming with an impressive amount of standard kit including keyless start/stop, cruise control and speed limiter, LED headlights and wireless phone mirroring.
Whereas you might think you’d be sacrificing drivability for a car of the Kodiaq’s size, it’s a surprisingly agile car thanks to it’s lower weight than rivals. This also helps it to deliver excellent fuel economy.
Engines for the Kodiaq comprise 1.5 TSI turbo petrol and a 2.0 TDI diesel, available with either six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.
With its impressive seven-seat practicality, high driving position, better-than-you’d-expect performance and overall affordability, it’s a car that can do it all.