Skoda Superb

Have you ever told a joke or a story and then had to repeat it 10 minutes afterwards for a latecomer?

  • Long-range cruising ability, rear legroom, excellent reliability, luxury feel, large boot
  • Thirst, easily marked upholstery, large rear doors awkward to open, vulnerable alloys

Hardly a week goes past without having to explain how good the car is. It's never a chore, but I think I've had the same conversation with 100 people since the saloon's arrival on the fleet just over a year ago.

Now, though, we'll be relying on Skoda power in the shape of the company's latest venture - a mountain bike! While it can't offer the same comfort or refinement as its four-wheeled stablemate, it's a great looker and - as with the Superb - uses parts from some of the best names around. But have we enjoyed our time with GK52 KXL? You bet we have. Not only has it given us 14 months of fault-free motoring, it has proved a more than capable long-distance machine and a real alternative to bigger, more illustrious rivals. It has provided sterling service, particularly as a makeshift team bus for our rally exploits throughout the season. After hours of pounding forest tracks in a Group N Fabia, the Superb's cosseting seats and limo-like rear legroom were heaven sent. As we now expect from Skoda, the car has been a model of reliability. Apart from a few early concerns with the sat-nav and a stuck-on heated rear window switch - which cured itself after a week - our tenure has been fault-free.

It even escaped the VW Group ignition coil recall that affected thousands of cars fitted with the 1.8T engine. Indeed, the only real problem occurred on bonfire night, when an errant firework smashed through the offside rear window. At first I thought the car had been vandalised and braced myself for the sight of a radio-less dashboard. But to my amazement nothing had been taken, and all four doors were locked.

It was only when I saw the remains of a huge firework on the floor by the wheel that the penny dropped. Autoglass came to the rescue and within hours a new window was fitted. Regrets? Well, with hindsight, the ivory interior trim was a bad idea. Although it made the cabin bright and airy, it didn't take well to dirty boots and the occasional DIY project. If you've got kids and are thinking about ordering a Superb, go for dark trim. Either that or buy shares in an upholstery cleaning firm. The wheels also took something of a battering. Unlike some alloys, the thick spokes aren't recessed and are vulnerable to being kerbed.

We'd also think twice about the 1.8-litre turbo engine. While there are no complaints about its four-up hauling ability and motorway refinement, fuel consumption of only 25.5mpg is disappointing - V6 owners must be loaded. In terms of other running costs, however, the Superb hasn't let us down. The only extra cost has been for front tyres, which were a hefty £291 for the pair.

We'll certainly miss the Superb. Its limo-like luxury is unique in the family car sector, while its fit and finish are well above class standards. But most of all we'll miss its comfort. Perhaps the bike wasn't such a good idea after all!

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