It's a minefield when the time comes to purchase a new car. Plenty of brands and models that generally meet requirements, but not quite.
Then comes Skoda.
There's a backstory to this purchase. We returned from three years in the UK to an old and none-too-reliable Renault 21. It goes down as the worst car I've owned. An eight-year old Citroen Xantia replaced it. A beautiful car to drive that proved brilliantly reliable. Only a need for a small to medium wagon saw her sold.
Having been in the first-generation Octavia in the UK, I was on the doorstep of the local dealer the week they had stock in 2007. But then the 'do we need to spend that amount of money?' from the financial controller saw us buy a Holden Viva wagon.
Now before you all go nuts, this proved to be another perfectly reliable car. It fitted the need, was reasonably comfortable and had reasonable performance. Westinghouse the white wagon proved to be Toyota reliable too, for the 80,000km we had him.
Enter 2012. Time to upgrade. Back to Skoda. Prices are down and specification is up. Octavia wagons driven in petrol and diesel. Loved them. But then I was asked if I wanted to drive the Superb. Sure.
Fatal mistake. There was no going back, so we committed to a 2012 103TDi Ambition wagon in lava blue with pull-up door blinds. A wait of five months thanks to that one option with delivery in June, 2012. There was one 'issue' with delivery. Skoda delivered the car to the dealer with leather upholstery which we didn't order. That got thrown in for free after one slightly tense phone call.
Well, what a car and what a journey this has been over the past four years and nine months.
Superb in name and superb in nature is about the only way to sum him up. Decent performance that gives a V6 Commodore a run for its money. Brilliant ride on the standard 16-inch alloys. Balanced. Economical and a simply brilliant long-distance cruiser. How does 5L/100km on the highway grab you and about 6L/100km in town?
This car has proven adept at everything we've asked of him. We've loaded the back with wood. We have dogs (using a hammock covering the seats) on the back seats. We tow an Adria caravan with him. This car has done it all and done it with comfort and composure.
It's a purchase that we have never regretted. Apart from the overall comfort and performance/economy combination, there are several features that make this car so good.
Let's start with that removable torch in the luggage bay. What a neat thing to have and perfect when you're trying to sort things when you arrive late on a caravan site. An umbrella in the back door? Why thank you. Vast, regularly shaped luggage bay? Yes please!
The rear vents coming through the B-pillar are a boon. Why chill the knees when you can have the chill at face height? Also great because a dog hammock between the front and rear seats would negate vents through the console.
However the best party trick, though now becoming common in other cars, is the ability for him to parallel park. Tight spots in Sydney that I would have driven past have simply happened. Being a little narrower than you might think ideal has proved a good thing too. It'll fit into a spot you'd park a Golf or Focus in but might avoid in a Commodore or Falcon.
So that's plenty of things we do like. What don't we like?
Well, the air conditioning is cold, but not arctic cold and needs an ozone treatment every other year because it starts to pong. Apparently this is quite common to other VW Group cars of a similar design age.
In summing up. This car has lived up to its name in every way. In fact, there is equipment that we have as standard that the new model has as options – automatic parallel parking for one. Then there is the positioning of the rear vents in the new car. Sure, that's where everyone else has them and I've no doubt the engineering cost is less. For us though, through the door pillar is ideal.
Comfortable, commodious, economical, practical and reliable.
Pretty close to perfect, really.