David Motton

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Škoda has a growing and enviable reputation for building brilliant tow cars, and the new Superb Estate looks set to continue this trend, says David Motton

If space is the ultimate luxury, then you can make a good case for the Škoda Superb Estate being a 'luxury' car.

The Superb may be priced to compete with family estate cars like the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat, or even undercut them. But it's significantly bigger than most rivals, with interior space to rival many luxury cars.

If you think I'm exaggerating, I'm not. The big Škoda has its rivals comprehensively beaten for rear legroom. You could probably fit a giraffe in the back if they didn't mind sticking their head out of the sunroof. And it's something our Group Editor commented on when he drove it, too.

You can say the same of the Superb hatchback, but as you'd expect, the estate version has even more luggage space. Whereas the hatch has a very generous 625 litres for bags (which itself is more than most estate cars), the estate has 660 litres. Fold the seats down and use every inch up to the roofline, and there's 1950 litres to fill. 

The previous Škoda Superb was also very big inside, although the new car is bigger still. However, it looked a little ungainly, as if it has been stretched in the middle. Today's car is much easier on the eye. It still looks big – it could hardly look anything else – but it now seems better proportioned.

It's better inside, too. The days when a Škoda cabin felt downmarket are now long gone. In terms of fit and finish, you now have to go looking for reasons why a VW Passat is so much pricier than the Škoda. Try hard enough and you'll find them, but the differences don't leap out at you in the way they used to.

So, what tow car ability does it have? Well, I think the Superb Estate should make a tough rival for the Passat, although despite its size the Superb is surprisingly light. I've been driving a 2.0 TDI SE Business with a kerbweight of 1505kg, including 75kg for the driver. That gives an 85% match figure of just 1279kg. The legal towing limit is 2000kg, and the maximum noseweight is 90kg.

Unfortunately the car I've been driving doesn't have a tow ball so I haven't been able to pull a caravan behind it, but having towed with the hatchback powered by the same engine I have no reason to expect the estate to be any less of a tow car. The hatch proved very stable at speed, and comfortably handled a caravan weighing 89% of its kerbweight. To be honest, it felt as if it could have towed a much heavier van without becoming nervous.

The 150PS (148bhp) engine is familiar from many other models across the VW Group. The current version has 251lb ft of torque, which is enough to cope with any sensibly matched tourer. 

If you want more performance, a higher kerbweight for a more favourable matching ratio, or greater ability in bad weather, there are diesel 4x4 models. Even sticking with the 150PS engine bumps up the kerbweight to 1625kg, improving the 85% match figure to 1381kg. Go for the 190PS (187bhp) model with a DSG automatic transmission and the kerbweight climbs to 1635kg, with an 85% match figure of 1390kg.

Choose one of these cars and the price will also rise, though. The 2.0 TDI 150PS SE Business I've been driving costs £23,290. The cheapest VW Passat Estate with the same engine costs £25,325, and that's for a base spec car when the SE Business sits in the middle of the Superb range.

If I'm looking for faults, a Mazda 6 Tourer is more fun to drive on a twisty road and the Superb's gearshift isn't especially slick. But by most sensible measures, there's really not a lot wrong with the Škoda Superb Estate. We'll be testing the car more thoroughly at the Tow Car Awards 2016 in a month or so. I'm looking forward to it.

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