For our readers based in central and eastern Europe, the Skoda Felicia needs no introduction. For others, though, it must be said that the Felicia was the first model completely developed by the Czech carmaker under the leadership of Volkswagen Group who had taken a 30 percent stake in Skoda in 1991.
Three years after joining forces with the Volkswagen Group, the first Skoda Fabia rolled off the assembly line. Between October 17, 1994 and 2001 around 1.4 million of the Skoda Felicia were produced as hatchbacks, estates, pick-ups, Vanplus and Fun models at the carmaker’s plants in Mladá Boleslav, Vrchlabí and Kvasiny.
The successor to the Skoda Favorit benefitted from VW’s input and marked the start of modern, Western production and quality standards at Skoda. Although based on the Favorit, the Felicia adopted substantial changes in terms of design, workmanship, technology and production methods.
Launched as a five-door hatchback with a 1,289cc petrol engine available in two output versions (54hp and 67hp), the Felicia soon received new engines and body styles. In 1995 a 74hp 1.6-liter petrol unit and a 63hp 1.9-liter four-cylinder diesel were launched.
In June 1995 Skoda launched the Felicia Combi, followed by a pickup version in August 1995 (including the closed version Vanplus). Later on, the automaker launched the leisure-oriented Skoda Felicia Fun, based on the Felicia Pick-up. Skoda also built around 18,500 units of the pick-up for Volkswagen under the Caddy nameplate.
With the Felicia, Skoda became the first Czech engine manufacturer to achieve the international quality certificate ISO 9002 in 1994. The car was also the brand’s first model to offer two airbags and ABS, as well as comfort features including air-conditioning, front electric windows and leather seats in the top-of-the-range Felicia Laurin & Klement.
In 1998 the Skoda applied a significant makeover to the Felicia to align it with the Octavia, launched in 1996. After a production run of 1,401,489 units, the last Skoda Felicia rolled off the line in 2001 to make way for its 1999 successor – the Fabia.
The Felicia did well in international motorsport too, with the Felicia Kit Car being used for three seasons between 1995 and 1997 in the rally world championships. The best result came in 1996, when Stig Blomqvist took third place overall in the British RAC Rally.