Skoda Superb SE L

Executive 2.0 TDI

4x4

Skoda Superb, front action 2
Skoda Superb, side static
Skoda Superb, rear seats
Skoda Superb, front action
Skoda Superb, full front action
Skoda Superb, dashboard
Skoda Superb, rear action 2
Skoda Superb, umbrella
Skoda Superb, boot
Skoda Superb, boot 2
Skoda Superb, torch
Skoda Superb, rear action

CAR makers have got to be careful when they name a model or the world will laugh at them.

Calling a car Carisma, for instance, when it had none did little for Mitsubishi's street cred.

So the biggest Skoda you can buy has a lot to live up to from the start, with Superb written in chunky chromed script across the boot lid.

Well, Skoda can relax. We're not going to point and laugh at a car carrying way too much expectation from its name. The Skoda is... superb.

Standout feature is the superb space offered for its occupants, especially in the rear seat, where there's limo-like stretching room.

You'll have to pay a small fortune more than the £20,050 a Superb starts from to better the feel of a lounge on wheels.

No wonder older versions are snapped up for the private hire trade, which knows a customer friendly ride when it sees one.

Then there's the boot - so big you need to send in a small boy to rescue shopping stranded at the furthest extreme. It is simply vast at 625 litres, or 1,760 with the rear seats folded flat. The estate is more capacious still if you have an army to move.

All this room is obvious even before you start the engine and head off with your passengers relaxing in the back and half a house clearance snug beneath the hatchback tail.

What takes a little longer to appreciate - and then lingers longest - is the way the Superb gets under you skin.

In this car it was a beguiling mix of enough power from its 2.0-litre diesel to easily cope with any potential load and the way this big car simply floats over rural roads that send other cars all nervous and jittery.

There's more; a tankful of diesel will take you 700 miles between refills and the trip computer showed 51mpg as the fuel gauge nudged into the red. So this big car has a small thirst.

Because the Superb will mostly end up as a company car there are a cascade of versions (more than 40) available to slip comfortably into any business fleet's pecking order.

Engines range from a 1.4-litre petrol - sounding too small but coping perfectly well, in fact - to a 280 horsepower 2.0-litre petrol model at more than £37,000. Both will be rare in the UK, where diesel rules the business car roost, still.

Sweet spot in the Superb range in probably the 150 horsepower diesel engine of the test car mated to a six-speed gearbox that changes so smoothly it puts thoughts of the optional auto well out of mind.

So, you ask, why would anyone needing a big family car spend more on something like a Mercedes or BMW?

The obvious answer is the badge, of course. Get beyond that (and you really ought) and your extra outlay buys you more obvious apparent quality with soft leather and veneer outplaying the cloth and plastic of the test car's cabin.

But where it matters most, in the way this car goes about its daily tasks, the Superb has a rare ability to seduce with its honest, easy-going nature.

FAST FACTS

Skoda Superb SE L Executive 2.0 TDI 4x4

Price: £29,330

Mechanical: 148bhp, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 9.0 seconds

Combined MPG: 61.4

Insurance Group: 18

C02 emissions: 120g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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