Why Skoda have such designs on you with their Superb Combi space invader
First drive... in Munich
Sometimes a little bit of information can explain a lot about a car. I didn't know (or most likely forgot) that Skoda design their estates first.
That way you don't get the 'back-kitchen' extension look you find with many estates. And it explains, at least partially, why the Superb estate (Combi) accounts for one-in-three of the model's sales in Ireland. We don't buy estates much here. One-in-10 would be regarded as excellent so 34pc is a phenomenal figure.
Of course it is not all about design. There is the small matter of space. Ever since I drove the first model ages ago, the big selling point always has been the amount of room it had in the cabin and boot.
Suffice to say it has a little more this time round. Only I noticed it in a slightly different dimension this time. There is more 'elbow room' now because the car is that bit wider. It gets here on September 22 so if you are at the ploughing championships you can gauge for yourself.
This is based on the global Volkswagen group's MQB platform and, with a longer wheelbase and wider track, that elbow room goes up by 39mm for driver and front-seat passengers.
From my vantage point I thought there was an inordinate amount of room at the back. Skoda claim it is nearly twice that of its nearest competitor. There was excellent headroom, too, and just to make sure all the space boxes are ticked, the boot's capacity is increased (by 27) to 660 litres.
Prices will be up marginally with Combis costing €1,200 more than the Liftback/saloons which go on sale later this week.
The Combi starts from €27,995 for the 1.4-litre TSI petrol. I drove this last week and I can tell you it was a sweet drive. If you don't put up a lot of mileage, have a test drive in this.
However, the diesels will be the sellers. Their start-off price is €1,000 more than the petrols - at €28,995 for the entry-level Active. The one you are most likely to buy is the 1.6-litre TDI 120bhp 6spd in Ambition spec. It will cost from €31,495. The top-trim Style costs €35,195.
They claim the engines are considerably more efficient (up to 30pc in some cases) which means road tax is mostly in the €190 bracket.
The engine line-up includes the 1.6TDI, 120bhp (up 15bhp) 109g/km, 4.2l/100km (67mpg), road tax €190; a 2.0TDI, 150bhp (up 10bhp), 109g/km, 4.1l/100km (69mpg), road tax €190 and a 2.0TDI, 190bhp, 109g/km, 4.2l/100km (67mpg), road tax €190.
There is also that 1.4 TSI petrol I mentioned (from €27,995) and a new 2.0 TSI petrol with 280bhp.
While they all have 6spd gearboxes, you can book a 6spd or 7spd dual-clutch (DSG) transmission too. There is a 7spd DSG auto option for 1.6 TDIs and models with 2.0 TDI 150bhp and 190bhp can have 4x4.
Standard spec includes seven airbags, multifunction steering wheel, electric hand brake, Hill Hold, Swing Radio with touchscreen, dual zone climate control, 16ins steel wheels, Bluetooth, stop-start technology and brake energy recovery.
Mid-range Ambition costs €2,500 more and has colour touch screen Bolero system, Mirrorlink, Smart Link, Apple Car Play, Maxi Dot central display, bi-xenon and LED lights, light assist, storage box under front passenger seat, 16ins alloys, cruise control, rain sensing wipers, heated front seats etc.
Top-spec Style costs another €3,700 and has 8ins Columbus infotainment/wifi/sat nav, 3-zone air con, electric driver's seat, reversing camera (trailer guidance), 17ins alloys, full leather interior.
You might glean from all that just how much new technology is now aboard. It is something easily overlooked with all the talk of space. Mobile technology and smart phones are compatible with the new Bolero and Columbus infotainment systems.
Skoda say android and Apple IOS are both supported via Smart Link for navigation and entertainment applications.