WHEN Skoda launched its Superb model in 2001 I confess I had doubts about the name.
It struck me as a somewhat brash and brazen attempt to draw attention to the Czech marque, whose revival has been nothing short of amazing under the Volkswagen umbrella.
In reality though the name wasn't chosen to say ‘we think this is the best car we've ever made' but rather a case of reviving a famous name from the brand's history in the shape of a model made between 1934 and 1949.
The truth is, the Skoda Superb is, for want of a better word.......superb.
It's one of the best cars going when it comes to value for money and it's difficult to imagine another vehicle where you get more car for your pound, with the possible exception of a ludicrously cheap Dacia.
What that original 21st century Superb, in both its first and second incarnations offered was space, versatility, practicality and quality for a bargain price.
While the third generation model represents quite a significant departure visually, I'm delighted to see all those attributes from the earlier generation models have been retained.
In truth the Superb has simply got better with age.
The current model has a more sleek and arguably more desirable profile than its predecessors, with design lines that are contemporary, classy and individual.
Interestingly this has been achieved not by scaling down the Superb's ample proportions - but increasing them. This model is longer, wider and taller than the model it replaces.
That's something that in part has been achieved by the Superb being the first Skoda to be based on Volkswagen's MQB platform.
Previously it was based on an adapted Passat platform. Presumably this has given designers more scope to do their own thing and it also means the Superb has lost around 75kg in weight.
One of the cleverest things about the Superb is that it doesn't particularly look like a hatchback but it is.
It appears very much like your standard family or executive saloon but in reality offers hatchback versatility.
And, given its size that versatility is impressive, with a boot that boasts 1,760 litresof carrying capacitywith the rear seats folded. The reality is that it's probably bigger than many estates cars.
I had a pretty large object to transport to a charity shop - a bookshelf that was surplus to requirements - and it simply swallowed it up while still having room for assorted bags of toys, clothes and other sundries too.
If the latest Superb looks good from the outside that interior has had a serious makeover too.
One slight criticism previously might have been that some aspects erred more towards the budget than the premium end of the market but this version has a distinct premium feel throughout.
The dashboard is well designed and laid out and soft touch plastics abound.
Another trademark strength is that rear seat passengers have an abundance of legroom - almost limousine proportions.
There are five trim levels - S, SE, SE Business, SE L and Laurin & Klement.
Standard equipment is fairly generous, all models coming with DAB radio, electric windows and mirrors, air-conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity.
The entry-level S comes with a five-inch touchscreen and as you move up the range the touchscreen increases in size and more bells, whistles and luxury touches get added accordingly.
A diverse range of petrol and diesel engines are offered and while the diesels are likely to be the biggest sellers the petrol units are actually decent all-rounders and worth considering.
This was the higher-powered version of the 2.0-litre TSI - it comes in 217 or 276bhp versions - and felt nicely smooth and potent. There's also 124bhp and 149bhp 1.4-litre TSI options and both are actually rather good.
On the diesel fron there's a 119bhp 1.6-litre engine and a 2.0-litre TDI in 148bhp and 188bhp variants.
The Superb offers a decent drive, the test model was an exceptionally easy car to live with on a variety of road surfaces and had a sporty feel. It handled nicely when pushed, though I think this was in part down to the fact it was all-wheel drive - the higher-powered 2.0-litre TSI is only available as a 4x4.
I liked the ease of the DSG gearbox which added to the premium feel.
And the Superb really does have a premium feel. It might be competing against cars like the Passat and Mondeo but it can also give vehicles like the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class a real run for their money.