The motor industry is on a roll. A tsunami of new models is constantly rolling into view. In one recent week, motoring writers like me had to choose which of seven new car launches we would find time to attend and report on. There is plenty to keep us busy!
With the car scene constantly being refreshed with new products, it can be hard for a car to elbow its way through the crowd and grab attention. So, clever companies look for ways of putting something extra into the mix. Skoda, the canny Czech car firm in the Volkswagen Group, is particularly adept at thinking up interesting features for its cars, to live up to its company slogan of ‘Simply Clever’.
A notable one was the unusual split rear opening on the original Skoda Superb. Now there’s a name that could be a huge hostage to fortune, if the car so-called wasn’t much good. Fortunately, though, the Superb has always managed to live up to its name, even if its past styling was a bit on the conservative side.
I digress. The split opening ‘twin door’ meant that you could gain access to the car’s boot in one of two ways: via a bootlid, as if it were a saloon; or by shifting a switch the other way, with a tailgate, treating it as a hatchback. It was very clever, but it could be temperamental, added weight to the car, and was a novelty that many owners said they didn’t use.
So here is the new, much more sculpted and modern-looking new Superb, reinvented as a saloon, and minus the twin door, but plus some other canny features that will endear it to owners. My favourite is an ingenious bottle-holder slot on the centre console between the front seats, which has deep grooves in the bottom that mimic the commonest base design of a typical drinks bottle. So a bottle placed into it is instantly securely gripped, enabling you to easily open it one-handed. Brilliant!
Then there’s the smart idea of stowing a folding umbrella inside a tailored compartment built behind the armrest of each of the car’s front doors. These are accessed by opening a door and pulling the brolly out of its cosy little cave, ready to use at the onset of rain.
Another smart idea is the hinged right-angle barriers that you can set around piece of luggage in the boot to stop them from sliding about. Very strong Velcro on the barrier bases grips them tightly to the boot floor covering. It is so simple, but it works a treat.
The Superb, which rivals other large family models like the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat, has always been good to drive and is now even more so. It has been given more efficient engines and extra space, with cabin room expanded a little in all directions, and the already large boot stretched another 30 litres to 625 litres. Prices for the range start at just under £20,000.