No-Snow Weekend Edition – 1999 Skoda Felicia Wagon

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In case you read my review of the brand new Skoda Rapid Spaceback, you might remember how I noted the Skodas of old in the end of the write-up. What you see here is a sort of a watershed moment for Skoda, and not quite far from the true predecessor of the Rapid Spaceback: the ’90s Felicia Wagon.

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The Felicia is heavily based on the Favorit and the wagon version is sort of a re-skinned Forman – a late ’80s hatchback and the lengthened wagon, respectively. When Volkswagen took control of Skoda in the early ’90s, they extensively revamped the Favorit and relaunched it as the VAG-inized version, with a Golf steering wheel and some re-thought powertrain options. The looks were massaged as well.

By the time this Felicia rolled off the Mlada Bolesky plant’s line, the nose had been changed yet again, this time to feature the chrome grille first seen on the 1996 Octavia, the first true star car of the VAG-era Skoda. But as the Felicia still relies on an ’80s Skoda structure, it manages to combine both eras between two licence plates.

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Pay attention to the brilliance of the design, however. The extra loadspace was devised in such a way, that the same tailgate fits on both the hatchback and the wagon, as do the rear doors. The only differences are an extra window, a different rear bumper and some 40cm of sheetmetal – if memory serves, even the parcel shelf is a two-part design, partially utilizing the hatchback’s parcel shelf. It almost looks like they designed the car with Photoshop.

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This Felicia features the 1.6-litre, 75hp AEE Volkswagen gasoline engine. Diesels were popular, too; you couldn’t get a turbodiesel but the usage for which these were bought, the 1.9 naturally aspirated lump did just fine.

And that’s kind of the point here, too. The Felicia was simple transport, honed just enough that it transcended the crappy valley where the Samara lived all its life, and close to which the Favorit and Forman always were. But with a dose of unified European design values, the Felicia created something Skoda was able to build on, with its Polo-based successor, Fabia a really capable car that can actually be seen as something modern. Even if they too got the old pushrod base engine that dated back to Skoda’s iron curtain age, and which was also available for the Favorit and Felicia and Forman.

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And as you can see, the things are still going strong. Perhaps a little rusty, of course.

[Copyright: 2014 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]

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