Originally a product of VW’s mania for economies of scale (the manufacturer having already produced a lengthened version of the Passat for China), Skoda’s modern flagship saloon landed in 2001, offering vast rear leg room for not a lot of money. Despite being a resolutely old-fashioned four-door (the engines went in longways and plans for an estate were dropped), it struck a chord.
The second-generation Superb, launched in 2008, went much farther. Along with a capacious wagon, the regular model received what Skoda dubbed the ‘Twindoor’, a tailgate that could be opened as either a saloon-style boot or a full liftback, making it as prodigious a handler of luggage as it was knees and feet. Accolades followed, bolstered by the decision to add an extensive list of optional extras to the Superb’s already generous kit list in higher trim levels.
Skoda has cemented this approach with the latest version. Where previously it was recognisable as a flagship for its incontrovertible size, the new, sharper-suited Superb is intended to fill out the role on style, too. Breathing space has been made as an upshot of the Passat’s repositioning upmarket, so the opportunity is being taken for a nudge northwards of Skoda buyers’ expectations which has laid firm foundations for the Skoda Kodiaq and the forthcoming Karoq.
But for now, the Superb looms large in our test crosshairs, specifically in estate format, which now offers a maximum boot volume of almost 2000 litres, making the wagon variants of everything from a BMW 5 Series to a Ford Mondeo look meagre. It’s also lighter than its predecessor and up to 30 percent more fuel efficient.
Our test car is a 148bhp 2.0 TDI in SE spec, the second up of a five-strong range and fitted with the oilburner that is likely to prove the most popular choice in both hatch and estate forms.