The first time I bought a Skoda (Favorit 1.3), back in 1996, I bought it because it was the best thing I could afford. This I sold when I received a company car that came with a new job (dont worry I am getting to the point!). Last year, after hacking around for over 2.5yrs in a very ratty Escort, I looked for a new car, & Skoda were the first, and in the event, the only place I looked. The 1.6GLXi Felcia is a great car to drive. Yes, at 75bhp the engine is a little underrated, but this car will work its heart out for you, and the pull away in first and second is great. The German engineered VW engine runs sweetly (FYI the engine in the 1.3 is Czech and not VW) and is very economical. The 34(ish) ltr tank giving you around 245 miles of urban driving and upto 280/290 for long motorway trips. It's easy to manouvre and reacts quickly to any input at the controls. There is lots of head and leg room, both in front and for the passengers, with plenty of boot space too. The stereo is my biggest let down. With only 2 door speakers in the front and nowhere convenient to mount any others, unless you want to hack the parcel shelf to bits, its a bit of a pain. Oh well, guess you cant have everything and until I can afford a decent classic, I'll be happy in my Skoda.
The Skoda Felicia is not your ordinary Skoda. When most people think of a Skoda they think of some unreliable eastern European car.. this is no longer the image that is conjured up in my head. After being bought by the Volkswagen Motor Group they had a complete change of image. They brought out new models that had been built to the same specifications ads their own Golf and Passat. From experience I can only speak about the Skoda Felicia GLXi. It has a 1.6 engine and performs admirably, using the same engine as its golf counterpart. So if you are looking for a cheaper, reliable car then I have no worries in recommending you try a Skoda, and you will be mildly surprised.
It certainly helps that when your model is beginning to age a little you can call on the likes of Volkswagon to help out. I certainly think that Skoda are extremly lucky that VW bought them because it has brought a quality to their car building that was unthinkable a few short years ago. The 1.6, has its new electronic multi-point injection system but it’s still fairly sluggish, getting to 60mph in around 15 seconds. Its lack of power-assisted steering is a big problem. When parking or turning out of junctions, the steering is far too heavy, which untimately will deter much of the female popualtion from buying one. Build quality in the Skoda is good; it seems to be solidly put together inside but having said that it does appear rather dull. The dash has all the switches laid out in a nice straight line. Room inside the car is plentiful, though, with space to stretch in the front and lots of head and shoulder room for backseat passengers. Overall it's a vast improvment on the skoda's of old...but there's still a long way to go.