Skoda trumps European rivals in BBC Top Gear Magazine readers' poll

Skoda Octavia

Now, have you heard the one about the Skoda which beat all of Europe's best-known car manufacturers in a readers' survey? Well, you have now. The days when Skoda was the laughing stock of the car world are of course well and truly over, but Skoda's reputation in Britain - one of Europe's biggest car markets - is going from strength to strength, according to a new survey.

The survey was carried out by Britain's Top Gear Magazine, which is closely associated with the BBC's highly popular Top Gear TV programme. The magazine asked 76,000 drivers to rate 159 cars, taking into consideration reliability, driving experience, dealer service and cost. They described it as the UK's "biggest car satisfaction survey", and in that survey Skoda did extremely well. Only three European cars appeared in the top ten, and they were all Skodas; the Superb came fourth, the Octavia came fifth and the Fabia came ninth. All the others were Japanese.

What's most surprising is that Skoda beat their European rivals hands down, performing better than Ford, Renault, Volkswagen, Mercedes and even Porsche. French cars, for example, gave a disastrous performance - the Peugeot 807 was voted the worst car, followed by the Peugeot 307, the Renault Espace and the Renault Laguna. VW only came 21st, Rover 22nd and Ford 25th.

It was Japanese cars which swept the board. The sporty Honda S2000 came first, followed by Lexus in second and third place, with a scattering of Hondas and Subarus occupying the places not taken by Skoda.

Photo: CTK
Skoda Auto is now a subsidiary of Volkswagen, so these results are as much a tribute to German engineering and technology as anything else. However the cars are made here, by Czech workers in Czech factories with Czech managers, and Skoda still is very much associated with the Czech Republic.

The survey was carried out by just one magazine in Britain, but the fact that 76,000 people took part in the poll gives it an air of authority. Czech polling agencies, for example, regularly produce political opinion polls based on a sample of just 700 or 1,000 people. Those polls are then reprinted ad nauseam in the newspapers and used to predict the outcome of general elections. So in comparison, the Top Gear survey is highly scientific. In other words - 76,000 car owners can't be wrong.