Skoda's Superb spaceship

Skoda's Superb does boots better than almost any other car. STEVE WALKER checks out the estate version.There aren't many models that would count their luggage bay as a standout feature.

Skoda's Superb does boots better than almost any other car. STEVE WALKER checks out the estate version.

There aren't many models that would count their luggage bay as a standout feature. Plenty have big boots that are worth a mention and might even swing the buying decisions of those with a lot of possessions to carry, but very few would actively divert interested parties around to the back entrance as an opening gambit.

The Skoda Superb would. It's not that the car is deficient in other areas but, in saloon guise, it does have a rear end of which it can be proud. Capable of opening like a hatchback or a saloon, the car brings real extra practicality to the party and provides a valuable means of differentiation in a crowded marketplace. All of which might give the Skoda Superb Estate a bit of a problem. This model is exactly the same as the standard Superb but without that party-piece boot.

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Skoda might be a middle-ranking star in the automotive firmament but it's backed by the supernova that is the Volkswagen Group and that's where the Superb Estate gets its reassuringly modern engine range. It's the same line-up as in the Superb saloon, starting with the 124bhp 1.4-litre TSI unit which is followed by the 160bhp 1.8 TSI. Both of these are turbocharged petrol engines but the range-topper is a normally-aspirated 3.6-litre V6 with four-wheel-drive and the DSG twin clutch gearbox fitted as standard.

Given that the appeal of the Superb is centred around low costs and value, the diesel engines should be popular. The 105bhp 1.9-litre TDI is looking a little elderly these days but it's still a solid entry-level unit. A much better bet is one of the 2.0-litre TDI common-rail diesels. These come in 140 and 170bhp guises, with the latter churning out a full 350Nm or torque.

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The estate version of the Superb might not have the clever tailgate arrangement of the saloon model but beneath its conventional lifting hatch is a luggage area of epic proportions. Volvo V70, Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5 Series Touring - these are big cars but they can't equal the capacity of this Skoda. There's 633 litres of room with all of the rear seats in place and when they're folded down, that figure rises to 1,865 litres.

Away from its vast load area, the Superb majors in robust build quality and unfussy design. It's short bonnet and high roofline means it isn't as sleek in profile as some estate models but the looks aren't going to offend anyone.

Inside, the cabin is as comfortable for a family of four as you'll find this side of a luxury saloon. Rear legroom is sufficient for even the gangliest offspring to stretch their legs. The quality of the fixtures and fittings is as good as anything VW has to offer and, as a result, better than in almost all the Superb's direct rivals.

There are lots of 4x4s and MPVs to tempt family car buyers at the moment but there's life in the old estate car yet. Skoda's Superb Estate might not have the fancy boot opening that the brand innovated for the saloon version but its luggage-carrying potential is vast and the rest of the package stacks up very well too.


PRICE: �17,715 to �29,075 on the road.

PERFORMANCE: 2.0 TDI 170, 0-62mph 8.9 seconds; top speed 137mph

MPG: 2.0 TDI 170, 47.9mpg combined

EMISSIONS: 153 to 237g/km


WILL IT FIT IN THE GARAGE? Length 4,838mm; width 1,817mm; height 1,510mm

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