Big, bigger, biggest

Skoda is Superb

Skoda Superb Estate, front
Skoda Superb Estate, side
Skoda Superb, estate side static
Skoda Superb, estate rear static
Skoda Superb Estate, interior
Skoda Superb Estate, rear
Skoda Superb Estate, rear seats
Skoda Superb Estate, boot

THE Welsh borders are a marvellous place to enjoy your driving, with plenty of sparsely populated, traffic free roads that are test enough for the best.

I most recently headed over that way in Skoda's excellent Superb Estate and what a companion it turned out to be.

In size, this is a massive load lugger that compares well with the Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6 Avant. In fact, in neither of them can you cross your legs in the back seats as you can in the Skoda.

This isn't a car, it's a stretch limo, and the boot is still large enough to carry a big chest of drawers back from the auctions.

Yet you won't have to pay Audi or Mercedes money to get hold of one, because pricewise, they come in the same as a Ford Mondeo or VW Passat.

I drove the Sport Line 2.0-litre diesel with the excellent VW group DSG automatic gearbox as standard, together with automatic four wheel drive.

Now with a normal estate car's ground clearance, it's no off-roader. Think of it more as an excellent car to keep you going in snow and ice, or to pull a caravan out of a muddy field.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine in this guise produces an excellent 190bhp, so it's more than enough for the size, giving smooth and swift acceleration from any speed above about 1,700 revs.

Below that, there is an almost imperceptible delay between pushing the loud pedal and the surge of power.

That said, it's smooth and refined enough to take down almost to tickover and still pull smoothly away again.

There's almost always enough urge for swift and safe overtaking and if even quicker progress is needed, slipping the gearbox into Sport mode sorts it immediately.

Despite fairly soft suspension, the road holding and handling are brilliant for such a large car. There's loads of grip, helped by an excellent lack of roll, and the handling balance is marvellous, even when pushed very hard.

And of course, the VW group power steering is one of the best systems in the world, with loads of feel in all the right places.

The combined government economy figure of 55mpg is unattainable of course, but I managed to get 40, which is excellent for such a large car.

The interior ambiance is lovely, with a very up-market feel and soft plastics all around. The sports front seats are beautifully supportive and comfortable and rear seat passengers loved the ride.

Equipment in Sport Line spec includes alloys, xenon headlights that swing left and right with the steering, sat nav, wifi, electric heated seats, keyless entry and starting and an easy open electric tailgate.

FAST FACTS

Price: £34,710

Mechanical: 187bhp, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 142mph

0-62mph: 7.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 55

Insurance Group: 24

C02 emissions: 139g/km

Bik rating: 29%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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