SKODA has come a long way since the days when people cracked jokes about it.
But possibly its greatest stride recently was the introduction of the somewhat immodestly named Superb - a genuine contender in the big car stakes, with comfort, space and elegance to match.
Under the careful stewardship of VW, the Czech make has thrived and grown in the budget and family sectors. But now it has earned a place with Superb alongside established manufacturers of more expensive, luxury cars. It is even nipping at the heels of its posh brother, Audi.
At the top of the line-up is the Laurin & Klement version, named after a 19th century bicycle manufacturer which was bought by Skoda almost a century ago. I tried the 2.0-litre TDI 190 Estate version, which is probably one of the best looking load carriers on sale today.
Despite being built on the same platform as the compact Golf, the Superb Estate has a class leading luggage capacity of 660 litres - almost the size of your average living room, in fact.
Rear leg room is of limousine proportions and there's ample space for three adults to sit side-by-side on the rear bench seat.
The spacious cabin might be your first impression, but get behind the wheel and it's the ride standard and general silence of travel that impresses.
The front drive Superb flows over poor surfaces and banished all but the worst bumps and potholes. There's little wind noise or commotion from the road surface making it relaxing long distance transport.
The four-cylinder, two-litre engine, which has done the rounds within the VW family, is well installed here with plenty of sound-proofing. It's a punchy unit with plenty of torque for mid-range overtaking and a settled cruising speed.
The dual-clutch automatic gearbox marries well to the smooth flow of power and helps endow the Skoda with the sort of effortless behaviour that is usually associated with more expensive models.
Acceleration is brisk without being overtly sporty - 62mph comes up in a respectable 8.1 seconds.
Drive in a thuggish manner though and the Superb will show its distaste and bite back allowing you to discover wheelspin and a somewhat unsettled composure. After all, this is a comfortable family car not a hot hatch.
Economy is better than expected for a large five-door. Most drivers will squeeze around 50mpg from a gallon of diesel. The official combined figure of 67.3mpg is unlikely to be matched.
The range topping Laurin & Klement has just about every treat a driver could wish for. Three-zone air con, heated seats all-round, eight-inch touch screen, TV tuner, leather seating and uprated sound system are all standard.
Of course, this alongside the usual thoughtful Skoda touches such as umbrellas secreted in each of the front door panels.