3rd Skoda Superb
* Top ten launches * From small cars... * ...to supercars...
Few cars use their name to set out their intentions quite as explicitly as the Superb. Happily, though, all the signs suggest that the Mondeo rival is exactly what its name suggests it should be superb.
A What Car? tester drove disguised prototypes of the new Superb in Californias Death Valley last autumn and came back raving, so we know it drives well.
There will be six engines, ranging from a 120bhp 1.4-litre turbo to a 260bhp 3.6-litre V6 petrol. The mainstays of the range will be the 160bhp 1.8-litre turbo petrol and the three diesels a 105bhp 1.9 and 2.0-litre units tuned to produce 140bhp and 170bhp.
All are said to deliver strong pull for brisk acceleration and most should give good economy while pumping out below-average emissions figures. Four-wheel drive is standard with the V6, and optional with the 1.8 and most powerful diesel.
An eco-friendly Superb, badged Greenline and emitting just 136g/km of CO2 will join the range towards the end of the year.
There are some clever quirks of engineering on the car, too none more so than the 'hatchoon', which combines the security of a separate boot with the versatility of a hatchback. Hit a plipper on the keyfob and the boot opens as it would on a saloon. Close it, wait a couple of seconds, hit the plipper again and the whole tailgate springs up.
Inside the boot, there's an impressive 565 litres of space. That capacity seems all the more praiseworthy when you climb into the back seats and realise how much rear cabin room there is, too.
The new Superb will arrive in the UK in September. It is expected to be priced to rival the Ford Mondeo as Skoda seeks to go more mainstreram in a bid to to increase sales.
It goes on sale in Europe soon with prices starting around 19,500.
Why it's a highlight: That 'hatchoon' is a piece of design genius; proves you can build a quality car on a budget; promises to shake up market a bit.