FOR too long designers have been churning out saloons with boots stuck on the back, rather than a much more versatile hatch.
This is especially so with larger family cars. It's been proved that a sloping, opening tailgate can be easily disguised to fit in with the flowing lines - witness the Audi A5 Sportback, BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe and, looking back to a much earlier age, the Rover SD1.
So it's great to the Skoda Superb, an early advocate of the hatchback, continuing to follow the trend with its current representative.
Practicality and sensible, yet stylish, design is really a key part of Skoda's mission statement and nowhere is this more evident than in the Superb. Every centimetre is made to count within the cavernous cabin.
Whereas a few years ago the majority of Superbs - a favourite with the fleet sector - would be diesel, today petrol is ruling the roost.
The relatively new 1.5-litre engine which pushes out 148bhp is a peach offering decent economy, real shove and also a level of refinement way better than any four cylinder diesel.
Mated to an automatic, twin clutch seven-speed gearbox gives you a satisfying balance between ease of driving and strong acceleration, with 62 mph coming up in little more than none seconds. Long-legged gearing results in frugal thirst and relaxed cruising. Our average for 500 miles was 42mpg with a best of 47mpg on a gentle country route.
Five long legged passengers can sit comfortably - no wonder the Superb is favoured by so many taxi firms. And the boot is enormous, being capable of absorbing 625litres of luggage with the rear seats in place - that's way bigger than any rivals.
Fold down the rear seats and this expands to 1,760litres which better most estate cars. There are also plentiful stowage areas within the cabin itself including a storage bin in the centre console and large door pockets. There are even umbrellas secreted away in the front doors if you get caught in a shower.
The fascia was smartened up in the last refresh and includes a 9.2in touchscreen. Much of the switchgear is common to other VW Group models and feels typically well made and robust. Skoda has stepped up its quality of fitments which are now tactile and friendly to the touch.
No shortage of equipment either. You'll find electric seat heaters, leather upholstery, sat nav, climate control, parking sensors all round. Automatic LED headlights and electrically operated boot lift.
Fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels, the ride of the Superb is compliant enough with good bump suppression yet well controlled roll angles during cornering. Push it hard around bends and you are reminded that this is more family car than sports model. Both Audi and VW have more expensive models offering greater dynamic depth.