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What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For For very little cash, the Felicia has excellent build quality and a spacious cabin

Against There's no power steering and, on base models, very little safety equipment

Verdict It's a solid and spacious supermini made with Volkswagen involvement

Go for… 1.3-litre LXi

Avoid… 1.9 diesel

Skoda Felicia Hatchback
  • 1. Check the wheelarches and sills for rust on early cars
  • 2. Transmission problems are not unheard of
  • 3. The cylinder-head gasket can leak on 1.3-litre models if not maintained properly
  • 4. For a supermini, the boot is a very good size
  • 5. The suspension is a common cause of MoT failure - make sure you have it checked out
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Skoda Felicia Hatchback full review with expert trade views

Most people will concede that today’s Skodas are nothing to be laughed at - they’re among the most reliable and best-built European cars you can buy. However, Skodas of a certain age still fill buyers with trepidation. In the case of the Felicia, it really shouldn’t. It was built after the company got its act together, so what you get for your money - and not a lot of it - is a very solid and dependable little hatchback.

There’s plenty of room front and back, and the big boot makes this one of the most practical cars in the class. The build quality was right up there with the Volkswagens of the day, a big improvement over earlier Skodas.

The drive isn’t exactly thrill-a-minute, but it is by no means appalling, and the ride is pretty good. The engines are sufficiently punchy and impressively economical.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Face-lifted cars from ’98 better and decent 1.6 GLXi spec helps

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The entry-level engine is a 1.3-litre petrol. In base LX trim, this gets 54bhp, which is a bit too sluggish. However, with the loftier LXi and GLi trims, it gets a more palatable 68bhp, which feels meatier, although it's not that much faster in reality. The entry-level model also misses out on basic kit such as power steering and a driver's airbag.

The next engine up is a 1.6-litre petrol with 75bhp. This extra power is useful, and it doesn’t cost much more to buy than the 1.3, but fuel economy suffers a little. It's available with GLXi and SLXi trims, and both get power steering, metallic paint and anti-lock brakes, while the SLXi also gets air-conditioning, a passenger airbag and alloy wheels.

There’s also a 1.9-litre diesel, but fuel economy isn’t much better than the petrols, and performance is similar to the entry-level 1.3.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Very low bills and failure rates result in a very good reliability rating

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Skoda owners always get value for money – that’s the cars' big selling point. And, although the Felicia enjoyed surprisingly strong residual values when it was new, it’s old enough now that even the newest examples can be picked up for under £1000, provided you’re prepared to look away from Skoda dealers' forecourts.

Fuel economy is fairly strong for the class, if not outstanding. All versions will return in excess of 40mpg, but none of them, not even the diesel, will beat it by that much. Our favourite 68bhp 1.3-litre engine offers the best compromise between fuel economy and performance.

Insurance groupings are fairly unspectacular for the class, ranging between groups 4 and 6 for all versions.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Face-lifted cars from ’98 better and decent 1.6 GLXi spec helps

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The reputation for wretched reliability suffered by Skodas of yesteryear was well deserved. However, the cars are now among the most reliable you can buy, and the good news is the Felicia was built after the company’s rebirth.

There are a few things to look out for, though. Early cars may well have problems with rust by now, and faults with the transmission and electrics aren’t uncommon, either, so make sure the car drives smoothly with no suspect noises, and that all the electrical functions work properly.

If you’re buying the 1.3, check the service history to make sure that routine maintenance has been carried out rigorously. This engine has been known to suffer a leaking head gasket if not maintained properly. Check for water or white residue under the oil filler cap for signs of trouble.

The suspension would benefit from a thorough inspection, too, because this is a common reason for MoT test failure.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Very low bills and failure rates result in a very good reliability rating

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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