In this case what we're talking about is a Skoda Octavia, which is what I shelled out on when this blog came back to life a few months ago. Its arrival marked the end of a long association with that middle class cliche the Volvo V70 and the start of life with a badge which - along with Lada, Wartburg and Trabant - used to be the butt of all joke about east European technology.
Not anymore. As the standard kit-list suggests, Skoda today is a confection picked from the Volkswagen Group parts bin, which it became part of a few years back. So while it's still built in the Czech Republic, its design and engineering are very much based on VW's bid for world domination (for which read 'attempt to dominate the market for mainstream cars').
So if you can get over the badge what you are basically buying is the extendable chassis system also found underneath VW's Golf and Passat, Audi's A3 and TT and the Seat Leon. Ditto the 1.4 TSi turbo petrol engine and the seven-speed DSG twin-clutch auto gearbox. It's the same story inside, with upmarket plastics, familiar displays and switchgear and and information/entertainment system which clearly shares its interface with VWs and Audis.
Having squinted at the Passat and goggled at its price, I got over the Skoda badge and went for an Octavia, a car which offers nearly all the refinement you get from its upmarket sibling but at a daft price. It's a sizeable car and while it falls short of a V70's seats-down boot space, it has noticeably more interior space.
More to the point, it's far more economical to run. My 2.5 turbo petrol Volvo struggled to get much more than 25mpg, and got a ritual thumping when time came to pay the car tax, which was edging up to £300 a year when I cried enough. The Octavia? Its light weight, muscular engine and remarkable gearbox mean it just about matches the Volvo's pace but thrashes it for economy: 3,000 miles in, I'm averaging 46mpg.
And I'm not paying any car tax, either, the Octavia qualifying for zero in its first year, £30 a year after than. Or it did until George Osborne realised new car buyers weren't giving him anything and announced that more "realistic" levels of car tax are on the way.
Anyway, it is a remarkable car. For what's meant to be VW's value brand, it is quiet, refined, well-equipped (climate control, multi-mode gearbox, decent in-car entertainment - they're all there) and screwed together in the way you'd expect for a VW-in-drag. The DSG gearbox is the stand-out performer, and for anyone who's not lived with this twin-clutch marvel the speed and smoothness with which it shifts gears has to be experienced to be believed.
I'm not blind to the stunt VW has pulled here. At eye level, its interior finishes are beautifully restrained and almost upmarket. Below that, where the eye doesn't wander too often, they are hard plastic. Its styling is, of necessity, less striking than a Passat. And I chose a model with the tallest possible tyre profile because the torsion-beam back axle was a cost-saving design choice which means it doesn't soak up bumps the way an Audi does.
I suspect a more sophisticated suspension system would have left even more people wondering why they'd pay a VW price. The key question is how well a value brand stands up to three years of family use. So watch out for the next instalment...
Petrol. Turbo. Automatic. And a bloke who drives like a snail.