Skoda Superb Estate

The load-lugging Skoda Superb Estate wins two years in a row

Why it won...

Our Best Family Car is even better as an Estate, making it a dead cert for this prize for the second year in a row. Nothing over the past year has eclipsed the load-carrying Skoda Superb’s blend of space, value, style and performance.

In fact, the range is even stronger now than it was in 2010, as the company has added an economical 1.6 TDI GreenLine II model to the line-up, with tax-friendly emissions of only 114g/km. Yet it’s in the back, rather than under the bonnet, where this model really impresses.

With the seats in place there’s a healthy 633-litre boot, but drop the rear bench and the Superb can accommodate an amazing 1,865 litres of luggage. And it’s not only good at providing raw space; it’s cleverly thought out as well. Storage cubbies on either side are supplemented by an interior lamp that doubles as a torch and a variety of bag hooks to make living with the Estate a breeze.

When you’re not filling the Skoda to the brim, you can stop small items from sliding around by using the excellent load securing system (standard on all but entry-level S models). This combines floor-mounted rails plus moveable straps and barriers to hold things in place. The car even makes sense on the outside – its smoothly styled rear end improves on the TwinDoor design of its hatchback brother. Better still, you get to enjoy the same superb reputation for customer service and reliability that makes the rest of the line-up so attractive.

Add this hugely tempting ownership proposition to the quality trimmings and sharp dynamics, and you have the ultimate answer to the family car question.

Our pick: The 2.0-litre TDI Elegance is the best buy. However, as with the hatch, we’d go for the less powerful 138bhp version. It has the same torque output as the 168bhp flagship, yet is more affordable to buy. Elegance trim is luxurious, but SE won’t leave you feeling short-changed.

Highly commended

BMW 5 Series Touring

Exec buyers who want added space are spoiled for choice, but BMW is the current cream of the crop. Smart looks, a big load area and brilliant combination of efficiency and power give it headline status… for now. Audi’s new A6 Avant is only weeks away, so the 5 Series has a fight on its hands to keep its highly commended status.

Skoda Octavia Estate

a fine substitute for its award-winning big brother. The Skoda Octavia scores on space and value, and should be on any estate car shortlist. It has a terrific engine line-up, well thought-out load area and more attractive styling than the regular five-door Octavia. There is even an eco-friendly GreenLine II model.

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