CHRISTMAS may have been and gone but if Santa Claus ever put the reindeer out to pasture he'd probably change his sleigh for a Skoda Superb Estate.
It can really swallow up enormous amounts of presents, parcels and suchlike and it does not cost the earth to buy or run so there is more money for seasonal essentials such as food and drink.
The Superb Estate is Skoda's uncompromising workhorse available in front wheel drive as driven here, or four wheel drive for ultimate ability.
There's a wide range of petrol and diesel engines with the most popular a 2.0-litre diesel developing 150ps and its trim level is high.
It cost £26,265 but came with £2,600 extras including intelligent headlights and what amounts to a winter pack.
The four cylinder engine is a good starter, pulls easily and well and with six gears under-hand you can really make progress or simply sit back and let it cruise all day.
The powertrain is very smooth, quiet and economical and matched with well-weighted power steering for easy handling in town or on open roads, and reassuringly powerful brakes underfoot the Superb Estate inspires confidence.
It has a long wheelbase and wide track to cushion bumps and it rides well over any surface, even if you can hear it coping with the worst roads.
Handling is good, safe and agile for a big car and the overall economy easily kept the sensible side of 50mpg.
The practical shape of the cabin with low waistline and deep windows, height adjustable front seats, highly effective wipers and very bright 'intelligent' headlights meant visibility was excellent.
The driver is well catered for with leather upholstery, a really first class infotainment system and simple clear instruments and well placed secondary switches.
Oddments room is good, the luggage area is immense with a low loading height, small lip to the floor and offset split back seats which can be fully folded down. Capacity extends from 660 to 1,950 litres bootspace.
Access is good for passengers and room inside is excellent, even in the back.
Noise levels are low apart from the big wheels and tyres thumping over things and the engine at high revs in lower gears. Main road or motorway cruising is a very composed affair.
The Executive specification includes adaptive cruise control, sophisticated navigation system, electric mirrors and driver's seat, powered boot-lid, radar activated automatic braking, and heated front seats.
All this comes for less than Â£26,300 on the showroom floor before you add this car's extras.