Family Traveller's Editor Jane Anderson and her partner Steve, take their kids on a road trip to test drive the Skoda Superb Hatch Elegance, a family car with ample space for the kids to stretch out and enjoy the ride.
Smell is a big thing with our kids. One quick sniff of a new dinner dish – or even an item of clothing - can be enough to make it a firm favourite forever, or consign it ignominiously to the dustbin of domestic history.
My oldest Scarlett, 10, ruthlessly applies the same make-or-break criteria to cars. She’s not fussy about colours, body shapes, makes or models. What matters is the initial whiff of the interior she detects when you open the back door for the first time.
On this all-important front, the Skoda Superb immediately proved a winner. Her nose wrinkled as she peered gingerly inside – then she smiled happily. ‘It hasn’t got that horrible plastic new smell, Dad,’ she beamed. ‘I like it!’ Ah, the benefits of a largely leather upholstery.
Fin, 7 - not as sensitive but still something of a car smell connoisseur - gave the Skoda a similar olfactory thumbs-up. So their mum and I could relax – safe in the knowledge that we wouldn’t have an anti-car sickness stop every 20 miles – and begin admiring the many other fine things about this enjoyable family hatchback.
From a family perspective, a sense of space was the first welcome impression, beginning with the awe-struck – indeed almost unheard of – moment when we were able to load every case, bag, and cuddly toy into the vast boot with plenty of room to spare.
The interior is similarly roomy. Hatchbacks are normally an exercise in bonsai driving, everything perfectly formed but unavoidably small. Not this one. Plenty of room to spread out your elbows and relax into the comfy heated and electrically adjustable front seat to enjoy the sensation of being at the wheel of what feels like a luxury family saloon.
In the back, Fin – also more familiar with the slightly cramped hatchback experience – piped up: ‘I can’t kick your seat, Dad.’ Good news for both of us – plenty of room for him and his sister to stretch out and play, no chance of him beating time to Happy by Pharell Williams with his foot in the small of my back for the next 120 miles.
The driving itself is a pleasure. The six speed manual gearbox is neat and responsive, and the steering is light. The car hummed along in town and really came into its own on the motorway. It’s not a big, roaring BMW or Audi but the 2.0lt engine gives it enough oomph to make over-taking a breeze and cruising completely safe and carefree.
If I had a moan it might be that the stereo and radio system could be bit more intuitive. I found channel selection and the touchscreen navigation system a little hard to master (but I have notoriously little patience on that front).
However, as a car that can smoothly shift my family on a 240 miles round trip on barely a tank of petrol, I’d say the Skoda Superb takes some beating. I was sad to let it go – and so was Scarlett!
Skoda Superb Hatch Elegance
Engine: 2.0 TDI 140PS
Combined mpg: 61.4mpg
Max speed: 131mph
0-62 mph; 10.0 secs
On the road price inc VAT: £26,220