WAY back in the early days of motoring an enterprising central European manufacturer was carving an enviable reputation in automotive engineering.
The company was Laurin and Klement and its Vee twin 3hp, made in Czechoslovakia was the first car to be produced in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
What followed was a rocket-powered boost into the fast lane of the day with a 4,877cc V8 capable of a then staggering 60mph, a carhailed as a jewel of engineering at the Paris Salon.
Laurin and Klement later became Skoda and in the 1960s the name hit the bottom of the barrel, being synonymous with poor build quality.
But Skoda did not occupy the cheap seats for long because along came the giant VAG Group to take over the company and produce some exceptional cars which hold their own against top line premium motoring manufacturers.
The Skoda Superb, the flagship of the fleet is a fitting successor to the old Laurin and Klement V8, and even has an up-range model named after the ionic marque.
The Superb is now in its third generation and represents not only first class quality, but outstanding value for money too.
This car for instance was and SE L Executive hatch model powered by the popular 2.0-litre TDI engine and the optional and exceptionally well-engineered DSG transmission.
The on the road price for this car is £28,700 and it would be very difficult to find anything on the market to match it at under £30,000.
Sadly the brand-conscious world is sometimes still a little wary of the Skoda name but this is just nonsense as the car embodies the best of Volkswagen and Audi engineering, all proven and trusted.
The latest Superb combines a bold new look with exceptional attention to detail, created by a team led by Chief Designer Jozef KabaÅ.
It is one of the biggest cars in its segment but features a highly modern and sophisticated design, imparting an impression of visual lightness in both hatch and estate forms.
On the road, the latest Superb is extremely agile for a large car and although capable, in 2.0 TDI form of 145mph it returns a combined mpg figure of 61.4mpg. With a 0-62mpg sprint of 7.8 seconds and an emissions readout of 119g/km, the stats of this model say it all.
Everything inside the new Superb's cabin is simpler, cleaner and straighter than before. The seat shapes have been enhanced to match the dynamic look of the car's exterior, while the portfolio of decorative inserts and upholsteries is more extensive than on the previous generation.
There is an amazing amount of legroom for rear seat passengers and generous cabin width ensures a spacious and comfortable ride for all occupants.
The latest Superb has the largest boot in its class and eclipses the previous model by 30 litres with the seats up. Folding the seats down - a task that can be done by pulling a lever in the boot - increases the load space to 1,760 litres.
Both hatch and estate models are optionally available with a new Virtual pedal feature that enables owners to open the electric tailgate hands-free with a simple foot movement around the bottom of the rear bumper. The function works in combination with a keyless lock and start system which Skoda calls KESSY.
Other additions making their debut on the Superb include a practical tip-to-close tailgate function that allows the owner to initiate the electric boot closing mechanism with a simple pull.
As customers have come to expect, numerous smart solutions make everyday life with the Superb much easier and more enjoyable.
The now traditional Superb umbrella, previously located in the left rear door has now been moved to the front, and for the first time is offered in both front doors.