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Estate cars are getting better - this one is Superb.

Estate cars are getting better - this one is Superb.

Our European neighbors love estate cars while in Ireland buyers have never been as keen on practical load carriers, but that is changing. Generally here ‘estates’ account for between 5%-15% of a model’s sales - in Europe it can be up to 50%. Stunning estates like the Jaguar XF Sport Brake, Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake and Audi A4 Avant show just how desirable five-door versions of saloons can be. That said, you won’t find many Škoda posters on bedroom walls but beauty is more than skin deep. With Superb the historic Czech carmaker Škoda is clearly getting better at exterior styling. Škoda has revised its Superb flagship range. There is a fresher exterior look, more kit and revised pricing starting at €25,495 for the 1.4 TSI Active.

The standard car has the brilliant party trick – it is a hatchback and saloon all in one! The clever ‘TwinDoor’ hinged mechanism allows the user to open the Superb’s boot like a boot or as a hatchback. Superb’s cargo area is vast to start with but if you need more space or want to rent it out as an apartment the Combi (estate version) with 633-litres of boot space - is simply massive! I loaded the ‘Combi’ with the family, all five of us, and our baggage for a week away in Kerry and was able to fit our entire luggage in the boot and under the load cover – with space to spare! If you fold the rear seats down there is a whopping 1,865 litres of cargo space.

On the outside Superb now features a new grille, monochrome Škoda badges, some smarter panel lines and body crease, but to the less nerdy eye there are hardly any changes on the outside to the face lifted (2nd generation) five-seater.

Inside the cabin remains absolutely huge. Volkswagen switchgear and trim can be found everywhere and that is the beauty of Škoda, as you get, in essence, a VW for a lot less money. That said there isn’t a VW that can compete with Superb for rear legroom and cabin space bar the vastly more expensive Phaeton. From launch three trim levels are offered; Comfort, Ambition and Elegance with an L&K version (initials of Škoda’s founders) on the way. Standard specification is good but if you wish to spend more there are loads of options and electronic aids available like cargo load dividers, park assist (automatic parallel and perpendicular parking) and of course the umbrella is still there in the door pocket, to name a few.

The engine range is now greener (by up to 19%). All engines now get Stop/Start technology to help reduce fuel consumption. The entry petrol engine is a 125hp, 1.4-litre that makes a lot of sense for low mileage users. A 1.8-litre, 160hp, TSI is the most powerful petrol model. The big seller will be the six-speed, 105hp, 1.6-litre TDI. This engine can deliver fuel consumption of just 4.3l/100km on the combined cycle. This unit in my test car was economical and did an adequate job, although I found myself using the gears a fair bit to keep momentum up. There are two, 2-litre diesels available, with power outputs of 140hp and 170hp. Later this year 4X4 versions of the front-wheel drive Superb will be available. On the open road, Superb passengers get a comfortable ride, thanks in the main to the car’s very long wheelbase (the gap between front and rear wheels). On twisty B roads however, the ride can be less than inspiring for enthusiastic driving – but that’s not what Superb is about.

If you need a car that is great value for square footage, the big Škoda Combi, is simply… Superb.

Michael Sheridan