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Friday, 10 April, 1998, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Skoda has last laugh
John Mullin
John Mullin of the Skoda Owners' Club: 'They may not be sexy but they are very reliable'
Everyone has their own favourite joke about the much-maligned Skoda.

Question: "What is the difference between a Skoda and a golf ball?"

Answer: "You can drive a golf ball 200 yards."

But the puns will have to bite the dust after the Czech car confounded its critics by topping a survey of customer satisfaction.

Skoda car
New Skoda models are rolling off the production line
It is the first time in five years that a Japanese manufacturer has not carried off the honours in the JD Powers survey conducted with the BBC's Top Gear programme.

They asked 29,000 owners of N-registered private and company cars how happy they were were with their vehicles.

And although Skoda may once have been the source of ridicule, now it is the company which is laughing.

Spokesman Dermot Kelly admits the car firm was once described as the brand from hell by a marketing magazine.

But he added: "That has now significantly changed. We have got more to do but people take us much more seriously."

Business turnaround

Sixty years ago Skoda was one of the top engineering and car companies in the world.

World War II and almost 50 years of Communism almost destroyed that.

But with the help of new owners Volkswagen, which took over in 1991 with massive investment, the Czechs have come back fighting.

Skoda model
The Skoda is fighting back after a chequered history
Skoda now has one of the most modern car plants in the world and new models on the way.

Motoring journalist Quention Wilson said: "They are putting something in the tea at Skoda and it is working.

"The cars are good, reliable family transport and also the dealers are decent people who satisfy their customers."

John Mullin of the Skoda Owners' Club added: "They may not be sexy but they are very reliable."

Disappointing British performance

British-made cars fared less well in the survey.

Luton-based Vauxhall saw its big-selling Vectra model voted the least satisfying model out of 120 considered.

The Ford Galaxy and Scorpio were the next most unpopular models, according to the study.

Of 34 manufacturers, Vauxhall was in last-but-one place in the satisfaction table, with Ford only two places above it and Rover in 27th place.

In contrast, Jaguar was in fourth place, just behind Mazda and just ahead of Nissan.

Skoda joke file

Q. Why does a Skoda have a double rear window heater?

A. To keep your hands warm when you are pushing it.

Q. What do you call a Skoda driver who says he has a speeding ticket?

A. A dreamer.

Q. What do you call a Skoda full of food?

A. A Lada.

Q. What's the difference between a Skoda and tickets for an Oasis concert?

A. Oasis tickets go fast.

Q. What do you call a Skoda with a long radio aerial?

A. A dodgem.

Q. How do you double the value of a Skoda?

A. Chuck a penny into it.

See also:

04 Feb 98 | Business
Skoda moves into the fast lane
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