It’s amazing to think that the Skoda Octavia was launched as far back as 1996 (though it took another 18 months to arrive in the UK).

Even though the Berlin wall had only been down six years, Skoda had been bought by VW, built a new factory and turned out a very competitive Golf-based hatch.

Read about the Skoda Superb estate here

I was at the launch in Prague (co-incidentally, Michael Jackson was playing his first Czech concert within earshot) and the Skoda PR announced that the ‘new’ Skoda would be targeting Rover and Volvo.

It’s a statement that has stuck in mind ever since.

At the time both Rover and Volvo were attempting to push themselves upmarket. Rover (‘Above all, it’s a Rover’) was well into engineering the 75 and Volvo was knocking off its hard corners with plusher new models such as the S/V40 and S/V70.

I suppose Skoda was thinking about practical family cars that were a cut above the mainstream, but didn’t have premium pretensions. The sort of cars that Volvo had been building, but were now keen to leave behind. It seems Skoda’s strategy was spot-on.