No car better illustrates the sheer class of the modern Czech car maker Skoda than its whopping load carrier the Superb.
The elegant third-generation flagship has crept up again in size to offer even more space for passengers and in the loadspace, when there was no shortage to start with.
Priced from just over £19,000, it is available in hatchback and estate versions, a wide choice of trim levels, a selection of seven engines and the option of automatic and 4x4 transmissions on some models.
While carrying capacity is the key quality of this car, it wraps the simple load-lugging room in a clean-cut, upmarket, comfortable cabin bristling with the latest technology.
A couple of seconds inside the car give plenty of pointers to the driving experience ahead. Front sports seats are trimmed in black Alcantara with silver diamond contrast stitching; the driver’s seats is electrically adjustable with memory and lumbar support and the three-spoke, control-covered steering wheel, fitted with a neat little pair of gearshift paddles, is leather-trimmed with silver stitching.
The four-wheel-drive SportLine estate model driven here sat low on optional black 19-inch alloy wheels and was powered by a 190 horsepower, 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine delivering a perfect blend of swift acceleration and relaxed top-end cruising, with the ability to comfortably top 50mpg in day-to-day driving.
So this is a classy, quiet and comfortable long-distance cruiser that despite its increased size is up to 75kg lighter than its predecessor.
It is also increasingly safe, thanks to a growing number of electronic systems including blind spot detection; rear traffic alert, which makes reversing out of parking spaces safer and on models fitted with an automatic gearbox, traffic jam assist which makes driving in heavy traffic less stressful.
With such a large car any help with parking is welcome and the Superb’s park assist, system enables automatic parking in parallel spaces, and in perpendicular spaces – either nose- or tail-first.
A Smartlink facility gives complete smartphone integration for either Apple or Android users and allows the display of certain apps on the large dashboard screen.
A Superb first is the ability to access the infotainment system from the rear of the car. By pairing external devices (smartphones, tablets) with the system via Wi-Fi, passengers can operate the system from the rear using their devices. A new tablet holder has also been developed to allow rear seat passengers to attach their device to the headrest of the passenger seat or on the folded-out central armrest.
Clever optional features include a system which opens the boot with just the wave of a foot under the rear bumper, an ingenious single-handed cup holder that allows occupants to open a bottle with one hand, and a magnetic torch that can provide light for up to 48 hours. Another option is a retractable tow bar which, when folded in, is concealed underneath the vehicle.
And, of course, like a Rolls-Royce, the car has always come with its own umbrella built into the door – except that now there is one on either side.
You need real confidence to call a car Superb – even if the name harks back to the original 1934 model – but it remains totally justified.
Model: Skoda Superb SportLine Estate 2.0 TDI
Insurance group: 24E (1-50)
Fuel consumption (combined): 55.4mpg
Top speed: 142mph
Luggage capacity: 23.3 cu ft
Fuel tank capacity: 14.5 gallons/66 litres
CO2 emissions: 135g/km
Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles