On the face of it there shouldn’t be anything like the level of excitement surrounding the Skoda Superb estate. But nobody can deny that there is a buzz around what is essentially a car with a slightly silly name and lots of room in the back. The Superb is big news and, although Skoda is not expecting huge sales figures, it is a very important model for the manufacturer.
Despite its obvious good value, the very fact this car is an estate is what will put it on the shopping list for a lot of people new to Skoda. Trying to work out at what point estate cars became interesting and desirable in Britain is difficult, but for some reason they seem to transcend the traditional values of badge snobbery.
Tracing back the rise of the estate to the Volvo 850 gives some sort of answer. In 1994 Volvo entered the load-lugging version of its conservatively-styled saloon into the BTCC, and overnight the car became a cult hero. You could buy a T5 in saloon form but the desirable version was the estate. Even the police ones had respect from the motoring community.
But I think the trend goes back further. The BMW E30 Touring was fairly useless as a carry-all, but had great proportions and still looks good today. The Audi RS2 only came in estate form and started off a tradition of four-ringed RS wagons.
But while this gives us an idea of what makes an estate cool, the extra room will also help to make the Superb classless.
The problem for the Superb is that, in higher specs, it has to battle low-spec and lower value cars from more premium brands. In this segment it is probably trying to attract people who are too image conscious to give it a go.
Where do you think the Superb estate will fit in? Will people who drive Mercs and Subaru Legacys – gentry, builders, farmers, and anyone on a school run – be won over?