By Stewart Smith on 2016-09-13 - Stewart was the former motoring editor of the Coventry Telegraph and is now a freelance contributor to Eurekar. He is based in Scotland and specialises in First Drive reviews.
celebrates 20 years
TWO decades ago Skoda was the butt of many jokes but now it is regarded as one of the top marques in VW's range and its products regularly scoop top awards.
And one of its biggest successes has been the Octavia.
In September, 1996, former Czech President Vaclav Havel gave the starting signal for the production of the Octavia at a newly-opened part of the plant at the company's headquarters in Mlada Boleslav close to Prague.
Since then more than five million Skoda Octavias have left the production halls.
In addition to the main plant in the Czech Republic the compact motor is now manufactured at the Skoda plants in China, India, Russia and Kazakhstan.
The development of the completely new Octavia model series began in 1992, approximately one year after the traditional Czech brand joined the Volkswagen Group and was based on a group platform which was completely new at the time.
In 1996 - the first sales year - customers could choose from two four-cylinder petrol engines or a turbodiesel drivetrain, but in 1998 the Octavia Combi extended the model range and from 1999 the estate version was also available with all-wheel drive.
The last vehicle from the first generation rolled off the production line in November, 2010. Between September, 1996, and November, 2010, around 970,000 saloons and more than 470,000 estates were delivered.
The second-generation Octavia continued the success story of its predecessor and between 2004 and 2013 1.6 million customers opted for the saloon, 900,000 buyers chose the estate version.
Third generation of the Octavia has been in production since November 2012.
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