We're already committed fans of the Skoda Superb, and the new Estate model follows the existing formula – only with added luggage space. So is the Czech firm on to another winner?
While the load-lugger could never be described as beautiful, its sheer size gives it plenty of road presence. In fact, to our eyes the estate actually looks better balanced and more attractive than the conventional five-door model.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Superb Estate
The neat headlights, sharp bonnet shutline and 18-inch alloys give it an aggressive look that’s absent from the Insignia. But it’s in no way over the top, and a sense of occasion is restored by the classy use of chrome for the roof rails and the trim around the side windows.
To make the tailgate opening larger, the rear lights have been repositioned and the angle of the gently curving C-pillar strikes a sensible balance between the practical requirements of an estate and the need to look good.
From the driver’s seat, the estate is just like the hatch, save for a clever button near the gearlever which fully opens the tailgate from inside the car. As with the five-door, there’s plenty of space, comfortable seats, classy materials and an elegant dash.
The simple white-on-black instruments, piano-black trim and generous equipment also give the interior an upmarket, high-quality atmosphere.
Rear passengers are treated to limousine-like levels of space with 100mm more legroom than in the Vauxhall. They even get their own climate control display!
Of course, further back is where these cars earn their money, and the Superb doesn’t disappoint. The traditional tailgate provides a large opening that gives access to the biggest load space in its class.
With the seats up, it has a 633-litre capacity. The boot is well trimmed and features an array of load restraints, two cubby holes and a torch that
will come in handy if you have to change a tyre in the dark.
Fold the seats, and the amount of space available increase to 1,865 litres – a hefty 335 litres more than in the Insignia.
While the luggage area isn’t as wide or as long as the Vauxhall’s when the seats are in place, an extra 130mm of load height is beneficial when carrying large objects, and the optional electric tailgate means it can be closed with a simple flick of a switch.
However, this optional extra is the only thing we can really take issue with – because it takes a while to open and close the bootlid. There’s no way of speeding it up, either, although you can tailor the height of the hatch opening in tight spaces.
The 170bhp common-rail diesel engine is a familiar powerplant but continues to impress, despite the weight of the Superb’s body. Flexible power delivery means it revs cleanly from low in the range and peak torque is delivered from as little as 1,750rpm.
The Skoda outperformed the Vauxhall in our in-gear tests. Against the clock, it accelerated from 50-70mph 2.1 and 9.7 seconds faster than its rival in fifth and sixth gears respectively.
The ride is firm but well damped, and the Superb is certainly the more confidence-inspiring choice on twisty back roads. In fact, there’s little to criticise from behind the wheel as the refined and composed Skoda shows all the class of the five-door model.
You would expect the Superb to trail at the pumps against the green Vauxhall, but the gap was only 2mpg, which is a small sacrifice to make for its more assured dynamics, extra space and greater pace.
The Superb Estate, then, is an impressive car, and one that the Vauxhall will do very well to beat...
* Price: £24,790
* Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 170bhp
* 0-60mph: 9.2 seconds
* Economy: 35.8mpg
* Claimed CO2: 155g/km
* Max load space: 1,865 litre
WHY: Superb hatch has impressive interior quality, strong engines and limitless space. Estate model adds to this with extra practicality.