With both the Octavia and the Superb, the Czech arm of the VW empire has produced cars which are bigger, more practical, and more capable than they should be, and it has reaped a whirlwind of new customers to the brand — not least of which are farmers and taximen who have jumped aboard the Skoda bandwagon in huge numbers.
But it is not just those arbiters of a good motor that have been convinced — it is right across the board. Apart from ne’er-do-wells who find only faults, I know of very few people who have been disappointed with Skoda.
And, having just driven the new Combi (estate) version of the Superb, I am once more reminded of what a classy, excellent job has been done by the designer and engineers involved in the creation of this car.
We have oft sung from upon high of the merits of the new Skoda ever since we first saw and drove it, and the knowledge that an estate version was coming was only ever going to result in more highly sung words. And lo, it has come to pass.
What do I need to tell you that you don’t already know? That it is huge? That you could host a moderately sized rock festival in the back? That it is terrifically good looking? That it has two umbrellas? I mean, these things are already part of motoring folklore.
OK, so we know all that stuff and we also know — on the downside — that the car is possibly not the most dynamic drive out there, but for the majority of the punters who crave one, it is not the dynamism they seek. It is the practicality, the comfort, the huge spec, and the value.
I have to admit that I came to the Combi having been in the Seat Leon Cupra and it was a little bit of a culture shock to find a somewhat wallowy suspension after the enforced tautness of the Leon. But, while a considerable amount of my time is spent on B-roads which might not best suit this chassis, it was obvious this thing was a hugely refined cruiser, capable of very long distances while providing excellent comfort levels.
The comparison with the Leon is patently wrong, of course, as the two are beasts of an entirely different colour.
You have to look at stuff like the Mondeo or the Passat to get a clearer idea of where this thing is at and, when you do, you see it emerging into a different kind of light altogether.
Indeed, the lack of wind- or tyre-roar at high cruising speeds added to an overall sense of wellbeing that all too few cars actually deliver upon. The Skoda truly delivers in these areas. And, in Active trim as tested it is not short of toys, what with three-zone air con, DSG box, paddle shifters, and a huge infotainment/nav screen and a raft of other fancy dan stuff too.
The two-litre, 150 bhp, turbodiesel is very familiar, as are its nine second 0-100 kph time, 216km/h top speed, 122 g/km emission rate (for a tax bill of €270 annually) and 4.6 l/100 km (61.4 mpg) consumption figure.
This is a cracking car — of that there can be no equivocation. And it is one which is boosting Skoda’s burgeoning reputation with every new customer that walks in a showroom door.
And — for the second week running I’m mentioning this, so I must be excited by it — with the SUV Kodiaq coming along soon and joining the Superb, the Octavia and the Yeti as exemplars of Skoda proficiency, the future looks very bright for the brand. Very bright indeed.
from €28,195 (petrol) €29,475 diesel; as tested: €40,455.
very familiar two-litre turbodiesel.
Active grade as tested very comprehensive.
Huge. Good-looking. Great.