Skoda Superb gets

serious

Skoda Superb, front action
Skoda Superb, side static
Skoda Superb, rear static
Skoda Superb, boot
Skoda Superb, dashboard
Skoda Superb, estate side static
Skoda Superb, boot 2
Skoda Superb, estate rear static
Skoda Superb, umbrella

PORSCHE Panamera owners be warned - take care who you challenge at the lights. If it's a certain Skoda, you'll lose.

Yes, you can now buy a big, comfy Skoda that will out drag one version of Porsche's big hatchback at less than half the price. And with a Skoda badge.

How embarrassing is that. Best, of course, that neither driver gives in to the urge to play top dog, but...

The Porsche humbling machine is a version of the Czech company's latest Superb hatch and estate that comes with a pumped up 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine whose 280 horsepower make it the most powerful Skoda you can buy.

For the record, this Skoda sizzles to 62mph in 5.8 seconds (Porsche 6.3 seconds) and tops out at 155mph and surely produces a car unique in its combination of cost/space/speed.

For the £31,445 2.0 TSI 280ps Superb SE L Executive (the estate is £1,300 more) looks almost unfeasibly inexpensive considering what you get for your money.

First, there's the room on offer. Or living room, if we're talking about space in the back seat. You'll need something in the limo league to approach the Superb's sense of liberating, leg stretching vastness.

Then consider the boot space; huge in the hatch and simply gargantuan in the (surprisingly, slightly shorter) estate. Bigger, even than you'll discover in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, long considered the go-to car when you need space for the kitchen sink and draining board too.

You can have all this roominess in a Superb costing as little as £19,060 for the hatch but, while its little 1.4 litre petrol engine performs far more strongly than you'd ever imagine, it's hardly the fire breather tested here.

Its four-cylinder 2.0 litre engine manages to produce more power than the 3.6 litre V6 in the old Superb - thank turbocharging for that - and, on paper at least, looks usefully economical too.

You will have to try very hard indeed to approach the 39.8mpg quoted as this Superb's official average. The trip computer showed 30mpg after a moderately enthusiastic run - not bad, but with the constant temptation to enjoy the performance it might need a saint with a weak right leg to do better.

The engine's 160g/km pollution rating translates into £185 annual road tax, which is unlikely to trouble a potential purchaser.

Part of the keenness shown by the fastest Superb is down to the six-speed DSG automatic gearbox that comes as part of the package. With gearchange paddles on the steering wheel (a £95 no brainer upgrade), this car suddenly feels smaller and extremely sporty when the right road appears.

Should it then turn rapidly into the wrong road another standard feature will step in to assist, in the form of a four-wheel drive system that pushes power to the rear wheels if the going gets slippery.

For another £750 you can add dynamic chassis control that lets you select several grades of suspension stiffness by prodding a dash display; the car rides quite firmly in standard mode already but can turn more race-ery if desired (or sink into softness at the other extreme).

If auto gears and all-wheel drive make the price look already pretty darned reasonable, consider what else comes as standard - leather trim, adaptive cruise control, sat nav, electric driver's seat with memory and DAB radio.

Oh, and an ice scraper in the fuel flap and an umbrella in a rear door. Eat your heart out, Porsche.

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