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Skoda Superb

Award-winning hatchback’s high standards make it a tough rival to beat

The Superb has long been a favourite of the Auto Express team, picking up the Family Car crown in both the 2009 and 2010 New Car Awards. With its blend of practicality, comfort and value, it’s a tough opponent for the revised Ford and Mazda.

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One thing it isn’t, though, is beautiful. Despite is imposing size, the Skoda is the  most awkward-looking member of the group. Compared to the sharp Mondeo and racy 6 it seems very sensible, and its Twin Door rear end – which opens as both a saloon and hatch – does it few  favours. We prefer the look of the more conventional estate. Smart detailing helps improve matters – the chrome trim, Superb-embossed headlights and sheer scale of the car ensure it can hold its own in this test.

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Inside things get much better, with impeccable build. The Mondeo is improved, but the Skoda remains the class leader when it comes to cabin quality. The seats are particularly comfortable – our only complaint is that the electric motors mean they won’t adjust low enough.

What really ranks the Skoda above its rivals is the sheer amount of kit that comes as standard. In top-of-the-range Elegance trim, leather upholstery, heated seats, Bluetooth and sat-nav are all fitted at no extra cost. Everything is intuitive to use, too.

In the back, the car’s extra-long wheelbase provides generous rear legroom, so passengers enjoy an almost limo-like experience. With 595 litres of load space – and 1,700 litres with the seats folded – the Superb is also supremely practical, and the Twin Door hatch makes stowing and unloading larger items easy.

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On the road, Skoda’s 170bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine is another favourite of ours, providing punchy performance, refinement and impressive economy. Despite the Superb’s size, this shines through and the unit’s eagerness to rev to the red line is especially apparent. The Czech machine was the slowest car on test, but the differences are marginal and you rarely notice the deficit on the road, thanks to the torquey nature of the Skoda’s engine.

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Criticisms are few and far between, but the steering can’t match its rivals for weight or feel. Body control isn’t as sharp as the others, either – although it’s never anything less than composed, and the Skoda offers an excellent balance between ride and handling. The softer suspension and good soundproofing mean the Skoda is by far the most refined car here.

With a real-world return of 40.8mpg, the Superb impressed at the pumps, and a 60-litre tank means it can easily cover more than 530 miles between fills, while its CO2 emissions place it between the Mazda and Ford.

So there’s little to complain about with Skoda’s flagship. If you can get past the looks, it really does live up to the promise of its value price and VW Group underpinnings. Has it done enough to fend off Ford’s best-ever Mondeo, though?

Details

Chart position: 1WHY: Our class champion is going to take some beating. Skoda is famed for its aftersales service, and the Superb lives up to its name with brilliant dynamics and an excellent cabin.

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