Celebrating 25 years of Škoda Felicia
The queen of Czech hatchbacks, 1994-2019.
Škoda Felicia was introduced in 1994, the first car built under VW's wing, and it was a compact hatchback which went on to become a commercial success as the Czech brand sold 1,401,500 units between 1994 and 2001.
Production began on October 17, 1994, almost exactly 25 years ago, at the factory in Mladá Boleslav, in the north of the Czech Republic. The Felicia was conceived as a replacement for the Favorit and, more importantly, it was the first new Škoda built under Volkswagen's ownership since the acquisition process, finalized in 2000, began in 1991 when the Czech Government signed a joint-venture partnership agreement with VW.
The Felicia was widely well received for a variety of reasons. Škoda engineered and utilized 1,187 all-new components for the car, which came with spacious interior, an adequate price and a fresh, clean design for the era. A pre-production run of 50 prototypes began in September 1994, in Vrchlabí, and the final production version was officially unveiled by the Mayor of Prague on October 26, 1994. It was painted blue, white and red, the colours of the Czech flag.
The 4-door version was 40-mm longer and 15-mm wider than the Favorit, and with a bigger 21-litre boot. It was also tougher and safer, and it was powered by a 4-cylinder 1289cc engine with power output ranging from 54 to 68 hp. A 1.6 L 75-hp diesel option was introduced in 1995, followed by a 1.9 L version producing 64 hp. The Felicia was also the first ever Škoda with ABS, four airbags, power steering, air conditioning, leather seats and an on-board computer.
In 1995, Škoda introduced an estate variant, called the Combi, followed shortly after by the Vanplus and a pick-up version. There was also another special version, called "Fun", limited to 4,000 units only, available in yellow paint and with a 2+2 seating configuration. In 1995, Škoda even unveiled a special, luxurious Felicia called the "Laurin & Klement" to celebrate its 100th anniversary and in 1996, Škoda built a special version called the Felicia Atlanta, to celebrate the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
The Felicia also enjoyed moderate motorsport success. In 1995 and 1997, a kit car Felicia was used in the World Rally Championship, managing to secure third place and second place respectively in its category. A facelifted version was introduced in February 1998, with new lights and a new grille. In 1999, Škoda introduced the all-new Fabia, which eventually replaced the Felicia in 2001.