From £17,0758

Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

Common-rail technology is applied to the entire Skoda Superb diesel range, which runs from a 105bhp 1.6 through to a 138bhp and 168bhp 2.0-litre. Petrols include a 123bhp 1.4 TSI, a 158bhp 1.8 TSI and finally a brilliant if unjustifiable 256bhp 3.6-litre V6.

This range-topper is the only petrol model that comes with four-wheel drive. All but the base 1.6 diesel can be had with four-wheel drive over the standard front-wheel drive layout for a £1500 premium.

All but the base 1.6 diesel can be had with four-wheel drive over the standard front-wheel drive

The double-clutch auto ‘DSG’ transmission is also available on all but the base petrol and diesel models for roughly £1400 extra. Ultimately the 138bhp 2.0 TDI Superb tested here isn’t massively fast – top speed is claimed to be 128mph and 0-60mph is dispatched in 10.1sec – but its pace is very accessible once past some initial turbo lag.

Cruising is very quiet, with little noise from the engine, which becomes more refined once into its stride. Overtaking in the mid-rev range is a good turbodiesel forté and this one is true to type.

A smooth and precise six-speed gearchange helps the impression of low-effort pace, and means that we would live without the DSG ‘box unless you were a heavy motorway user and would really feel the benefit. It is a great gearbox if that is the case.

The more modern 168bhp common-rail engine – which has stronger performance and only marginally worse fuel consumption, at 49.6 next to 52.3mpg – is the more pleasant engine to use, and given the small £900 premium it commands over the 138bhp equivalent is our pick of the range.

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If outright economy is more of a concern, the Greenline diesel is worthy of consideration. Ultimately a 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel powering a car as big as the Superb won't produce startling acceleration, but it's far from unpleasant to drive. Compared to the higher-powered diesel Superbs, it does lack overtaking punch, but this simply means such manoeuvres require greater planning.