THE future of the estate car has arguably been in doubt for some time but thankfully it seems to be holding firm - for the time being at least.
The seemingly unstoppable rise of the SUV has certainly put the existence of the estate car under threat, though it has yet to be declared an endangered species.
However we are living in a day and age where if you need a family vehicle with plenty of load-lugging capacity then the de facto choice generally tends to be an SUV.
Personally I like to see vehicles like the Skoda Octavia estate still going strong and why shouldn't it.
The Octavia has been Skoda's biggest seller in the UK since its arrival on the scene in 1998.
The current version is still relatively new, following its launch in summer 2020.
The Octavia has always been a good car but it has also improved considerably over its lifespan and the current version - the fourth generation - is dificult to fault in all honesty.
One of the great things for me about the Skoda marque is how its looks have evolved and matured.
While the styling is still fairly middle of the road in many respects (apart from the one-off that was the Yeti) the current crop of Skodas have distinct styling queues that are instantly identifiable and help set the brand apart.
Key among them is that imposing grille that dominates the front end of the vehicle so effectively.
Estate cars these days tend to be a lot less boxy than they once were and the Octavia is no exception, though it certainly hasn't sacrified space for styling.
On the inside the Octavia impresses.
Comparing it to its sister Volkswagen marque the Octavia sits somewhere between the Golf and the Passat size-wise.
It certainly feels like a big car when you sit in and the cabin is spacious and comfortable.
Build quality, fit and finish, instrumentation and switchgear all look and feel great and it doesn't take you long to feel at home when driving one.
Quality is certainly to the fore with a Virtual Cockpit featuring a 10.25-inch display.
There's a two-spoke steering wheel with control buttons and scroll wheels which allow you to operate 14 different functions.
Skoda has also gained a reputation for its subtle touches that are simple yet clever.
It's not just a Skoda thing but LED ambient lighting on the front doors, dash and footwells offers up to 30 colours, with the ability to independently alter the shade in different parts of the cabin.
What is distinctly Skoda is its ‘Simply Clever' initiative.
This has always included super useful everyday practical features like bag hooks, an umbrella and a waste bin in the door trim.
It's evolved and now includes smartphone storage pockets, a snow brush in the front doors and more besides.
The LED ambient lighting is an SE L extra - you also get adaptive cruise control featuring ‘ follow to stop', an electrically adjustable driver's seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, microsuede upholstery, the Columbus infotainment and sat-nav system and heated front seats.
As far as practicality goes the Octavia certainly delivers. Rear seat passengers are generously cated for when it comes to head and legroom and there's 640 litres of boot space, which increases to 1,700 litres of carrying capacity with the seats folded down.
The Octavia has a range of petrol and diesel engine options, as well as both plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid powertrains.
This car came with the higher powered of the two diesel engines on offer, a 2.0-litre TDI unit developing 150ps.
There might be issues over the future of diesel but it really was a consummate all-rounder combining power and economy to great effect.
Another Octavia strength is the drive it offers. This proved a joy to be behind the wheel of for a week.
On an open road you could be forgiven for forgetting you were driving a reasonbably large estate car.
It had more of the feel of a sporty hatch, eating up the miles whatever the road surface and navigating the bends of twisting A roads with ease.
And summing-up, while Skodas may no longer be the bargain basement vehicles they once were they still offer exceptionally good value for money.