The Skoda Superb is one of the roomiest and best-value cars in saloon form – and the estate promises even more of the same.

Expert Guide editor Keith Collantine sampled the new car in Italy.

The Skoda Superb saloon was launched last year and carried on the appeal of its predecessor in giving buyers a big car with a long equipment list for minimal outlay. And it did so while adding a new look which, though not loved by all, at least did away with the ‘re-badged Passat’ style of the last Superb.

This latest version has now spawned an estate version. In its transformation the Superb has lost the saloon’s slightly fussy rear hatch and gained a larger but still sleek-looking rear roofline with a hint of coupe about it. But the front grille and somewhat awkward headlights are still likely to elicit a love/hate reaction.

Class-leading boot

Its graceful lines do a good job of hiding just how enormous the boot is. With the seats folded flat, Skoda claims the Superb Combi has over 100 litres more storage space than anything in its class – 1,865 litres versus the Mazda 6′s 1,751 and Ford Mondeo’s 1,733.

With the seats upright it still leads the way, with 633 litres comfortably out-stripping the Volvo V70’s 575. Even in its most basic trim you can through-load and there’s at least half a dozen storage compartments including some very useful ones behind the rear wheel arches.

It’s so big it even comes with an integrated torch so you can peer into its depths. And if somehow it fails to satisfy your storage needs, roof rails are fitted as standard so you can strap on more luggage.

Driving pleasure?

You’d be forgiven for assuming these gargantuan proportions make for a driving experience that is similar to piloting a supertanker. But you’d be wrong.

Skoda confidently sent us on a driving route that included plenty of second, third and fourth gear corners and the Superb Combi clung on impressively for a car of its size.

The suspension gave a fine ride but without dulling the driver from sensing what was going on between tyres and tarmac. How well it can cope with Britain’s battered roads remains to be seen, however.

A similar range of engines to those found in the saloon are offered with the estate. The two 2-litre diesels, with 138bhp and 167bhp, are likely to be the most popular. However the former is Euro IV compliant and the latter Euro V, meaning the more powerful of the two also emits less CO2 – 155g/km versus 160 (rising to 162/179 for the automatic versions).

We tested the more powerful version and found it the best choice, with excellent pulling power from low revs and a quiet, smooth drive on the roads. Skoda claims the 167bhp diesel can get up to 40mpg fuel consumption and we returned a figure in the high thirties on our test with little difficulty.

The petrol versions are 1.4 and 1.8 litres and have 123bhp and 158 bhp respectively – the latter putting out 171g/km of CO2.

Rear passenger comfort is exemplary with plenty of head and leg room, and decent seats with ISOFIX mountings. You’re well catered for up front as well, with an organised and straightforward dashboard and comfortable seats.

Fully loaded

It isn’t possible to do full justice to the impressively high level of equipment supplied as standard in this review. But with front fog lights with daytime running lights, tinted and heated rear windscreen, courtesy lights, cooled glove box, outdoor temperature indicator, electrically-adjusted and heated wing mirrors, ten load lashing points, electrically-operated tailgate, aircon and an MP3 player connection and more, you get a huge amount of kit for your money.

Exact pricing details for the Superb Combi haven’t been announced yet but they are expected to be £1,100-1,300 more than the equivalent saloon models, suggesting a £17,400 to £28,600 price range.

Understated, keenly priced and simply enormous inside, the Superb estate is a very shrewd choice of car that gives maximum value for money for drivers who are uninhibited about the brand on their bonnet.

Key Facts

Models tested: Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDi,
Skoda Superb Estate 1.8 TSi
Date tested: October 2009
Road tester: Keith Collantine