Skoda vs Kia

If you prioritise value for money and practicality but don't want to compromise, then Skoda or Kia will be high on your list. Which is best?

BuyaCar team
Nov 23, 2016

A decade ago, there was just one reason to buy a Skoda or Kia: the low price. These budget choices might not have been the most sophisticated or up-to-date cars but there was no arguing with value for money.

But today, both manufacturers have pushed up their prices and moved their cars upmarket. Kia even stopped supplying its Cee’d family hatchback as the Reasonably Priced Car for Top Gear, saying that it was no longer a cut-price brand.

But both brands still claim to offer value-for-money, clever design and the latest technology. If you’re looking for a modern car that doesn’t break the bank. which should you choose?

Skoda vs Kia: what they offer

As part of the Volkswagen Group, Skodas share mechanical parts with other cars in the group. So, underneath the bodywork of the Skoda Octavia are the same parts you’ll find powering the Volkswagen Golf. Take the badges off a Skoda Citigo and you’d be hard pressed to tell it apart from a VW up!

But despite having simialr technology, Skodas are generally cheaper than Volkswagens and the company claims that they stand out because they have clever design features. This might mean that there’s an ice scraper behind the fuel-filler flap or an umbrella that’s stored in the doors or underneath the front passenger seat.

They also tend to be more practical. The Octavia is an enormously spacious family hatchback: the new Kodiaq a big SUV with up to seven-seats, that’s available for the price of a smaller five-seat VW Tiguan.

Kia also shares parts of its cars with its sister company, Hyundai. Just like with Skoda and Volkswagen, you’ll find the same bits in the Hyundai Santa Fe as are in the Kia Sportage.

The company has a more distinctive design than the restrained Skodas, with bulging lights and a grille that’s said to be the shape of a tiger’s nose (Skoda’s grille looks like a moustache). Kia offers greener options too, with the Niro and Optima plug-in hybrids as well as the all-electric Kia Soul.

Kia vs Skoda: awards

Both Kia and Skoda have trophy cabinets bulging with awards. In the Auto Express New Car Awards 2016, Skoda bagged an incredible three gongs. Best city car went to the Citigo, Best family car to the Superb and Best estate car to the Superb estate.

Kia didn’t leave empty handed with the hybrid Niro winning the best green car award.

Arguably, it’s the plaudits of real owners that count for more, though. Here, Skoda again stands tallest, at least in the 2016 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. It has no less than five cars in the top 50 – Octavia Mk 3 (7 out of 150), Citigo Mk 1 (11), Yeti Mk1 (17), Superb Mk 2 (20), Fabia Mk 3 (22) – compared with Kia’s two – Sorento Mk 3 (32) and Cee’d Mk 2 (34).

It’s not all good news for Skoda, though. The Fabia Mk 2 charts at a lowly 144.

Skoda vs Kia: how many cars do they sell?

In the year to September 2016, Kia had sold 72,949 cars (3.39% of the market), while Skoda had sold 63,310 (2.94%). In fact, Kia seems to be on a roll, with its market share increasing 13.61% compared with the same period in 2015, while Skoda’s increased by 5.26%. It seems more and more people are tuning into Kia.

Kia vs Skoda: pricing

Skodas start at £8275 for the Citigo 1.0 60PS S 3dr. That’s over £2000 more than the Dacia Sandero, the UK’s cheapest new car. This shows how Skoda has distanced itself from the super-budget sector it once occupied. In fact, rather than pricing itself against other budget brands, it prices itself against sister brands in the Volkswagen Group, in particular Seat whose cheapest car is the £8440 Mii S 60PS.

At £8695 for the Kia Picanto 1.0 1 Air, Kia’s prices start even higher than Skoda’s. However, this entry-level model has air conditioning, hill start assist and a 60:40 split folding rear seat – three things the basic Citigo lacks.

Skoda vs Kia: warranty

Kia’s claim to fame is its industry-leading, seven-year new car warranty. It knocks Skoda’s three-year/60,000-mile warranty into a cocked hat. Even approved used Kias sold by Kia dealers that are no older than 18 months or 18,000 miles come with seven years’ cover.

However, despite its shorter warranty, Skoda’s performance in the 2016 Driver Power survey would suggest owners have few complaints. Meanwhile, the VW Group engines that power the model range are economical and cheap to tax, as well good to drive. There’s an impressive automatic gearbox (branded DSG) in the line-up, too.

Not to be outdone, Kia has recently introduced a similar gearbox in its line-up, as well as a choice of excellent 1.0-litre petrol engines that are both sporty and very efficient. Its diesel engines are impressively economical, too.

Kia vs Skoda: cost of ownership

Both brands are impressive performers when it comes to resisting depreciation. SUVs are all the rage at present and the Kia Sportage is one of the slowest depreciating of all. That reassuring seven-year warranty is a help, too. However, as the brand becomes more popular, depreciation may become an issue.

Skoda’s strong customer loyalty, conservative styling, orderly marketing, sensible pricing and association with VW means most of its models resist depreciation slightly better than Kia’s.

Skoda vs Kia: history

For years, Skoda was the butt of jokes which it turned to its advantage when, after being bought by Volkswagen in the 1990s, it began making cars that were surprisingly good. 
Kia suffered the same problem but it wasn’t until 2005, with the appointment of a former Audi designer as its head of design, that the brand began to forge a fresh and more attractive identity.

Skoda vs Kia: other options

Rivals for your attention in the budget sector include Dacia, MG and Hyundai. Dacia is the budget-champ with its cheapest car, the Sandero Access 1.2 75, starting at just £5995.
MG starting prices are closer to Kia’s and Skoda’s with the cheapest model, the MG3 1.5L 3Time, costing £8399. However, the MG3 is a supermini, where the Skoda Citigo and Kia Picanto are much smaller city cars.

Hyundai’s cheapest car is the i10 S 1.0 with a price of £8995. It’s a clear Picanto rival and indeed, Hyundai has a share in Kia. However, it offers a five-year warranty compared with Kia’s seven-year one.



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