What lies behind a Škoda?

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A journey to Prague is a journey into the heart of Škoda history. The automobile company began in December of 1895; originally under the name of Slavia, which was tribute to the car’s original country, Yugoslavia.

Ask any motorist and the response to what he or she thinks about Škoda will almost certainly be based on the car’s reputation throughout the 1980s, when it was often described as ‘the laughing stock’ of the automotive world. As the old joke put it: ‘How do you double the value of a Škoda? Fill up the petrol tank!’

But this perception in Western Europe has changed greatly since the 1991 joint-venture partnership agreement with Volkswagen, which was marked by the transfer of a 30% share to the Volkswagen Group. As technical development progressed and attractive new models were brought to market, Škoda’s image began to improve.

In the UK, a major turnabout was achieved with the ironic ‘It’s a Škoda, honest’ advertising campaign, which was started in the early 2000s. In a 2003 advertisement on British television, a new employee on the production line is fitting Škoda badges on the car bonnets. When some attractive looking cars come along he stands back, not fitting the badge, since they look so good ‘they cannot be Škodas’.

And, by 2010 Škoda was voted as the best European carmaker in terms of customer satisfaction for build quality and after-sales service. According to the UK’s Daily Telegraph, not only are Škodas the best value for a customer’s money, but also “top-notch to drive”.

Driving a Škoda previously brought to life all the shortcomings and miseries of life under the Soviet regime, from the cars’ repellent interiors to the atrocious on-road movement. But these assertions are now nothing but an afterthought, as Škoda is now one of the most respected car brands in all of Europe.