Skoda go and do it again with a 'Superb' 4X4
The Superb has already established itself as the best luxury car in the non-executive segment, but now it has gone one step further.
At the time I personally didn't believe you could improve on perfection - but I was clearly wrong.
The Czech car giant stunned the motoring press when they trumped the ingenious saloon/hatch with the birth of the Combi in late 2009. Surely they couldn't do it again?
Yep, I'm afraid so . . . and this time it's a combination of all three - a premium Combi (estate) with 'always on' 4X4.
Now, don't forget this is the car billed as the only model in the business that you can't buy extras for. The options list simply consists of poke and if it's more power you're after the more it costs.
Never before had we seen a saloon come with so much luxury, technology and equipment as standard on the Elegance spec.
The 2.0litre, 170bhp (€481 tax) TDi comes with the same star line-up including full leather interior with electric front and rear heated seats; sat nav, Parking Assistant (which parallel parks the car for you), cruise control, Bi-Zenon head lamps with AFS (lights that corner with the car) integrated headlamp washers, heated electric mirrors, on-board computer, bluetooth phone, touch screen radio/CD and up to 20GB of internal music storage and DVD playback to name but a few.
It's also gargantuan inside with enough space (1,865 litres with the seats folded down) to lug around a full sized grandfather clock.
But it's the clever 4X4 system or Haldex Clutch which will blow you away.
This on-demand all-wheel drive operates much like traction control and kicks in when the car detects a loss of grip in any one corner.
A series of sensors link up with the ABS/ESP control unit and steering to feed information into the axle unit which then distributes the power accordingly.
In normal driving conditions the majority of power is delivered to the front wheels (96%) and 4% to the rear. Should you begin to lose grip at the front the clutch diverts power to the rear (90%) and 10% front.
On surfaces like snow or gravel the power is evenly transmitted (25%) to all 4 corners.
If however there is a poor response on one side only, traction is divided up with 85% going to the unaffected side and 5% the rest.
Brilliantly simple, but it does take a little getting used to. The car stalled several times on a steep incline when I misjudged the bite leaving an underground carpark.
That though, is more than compensated for by the Skoda brolly stowed in the rear door.
The Superb Combi 4X4 starts at €37,105.