In recent years, the demand for traditional family cars has dwindled as buyers have been tempted by upmarket compact executives, fashionable crossovers and rugged SUVs

• Best family cars

Yet that hasn’t stopped Skoda pulling the wraps off an all-newSuperb that promises to be bigger, better to drive and offer more value than ever. More importantly, it aims to inject a dose of desirability by mixing eye-catching styling with an interior that rivals premium brands for quality and design. 

This push upmarket hasn’t come at the expense of Skoda’s reputation for value, though. Prices start at £18,640, while the 2.0 TDI SE Business tested here is £22,090. Factor in thelow emissions and long list of kit, and it has considerable appeal.

However, before Skoda can celebrate, the Superb must go head-to-head with the latest VW Passat, which went straight to the top of the class on its debut earlier this year. 

Featuring classy yet understated looks, a top-notch interior and sharp driving dynamics, it sets new standards in the sector. It’s also really cheap to run, particularly for the business users who make up the vast majority of big saloon sales. So which is the family car king?

The previous Superb was the most spacious car in the family class, and the new model retains that crown. While the Twindoor layout’s been replaced by a hatch tailgate, it opens to reveal a maximum 1,760-litre capacity. The Skoda has 30mm more rear legroom than the VW, too. Yet the four-door Passat is still a roomy, versatile choice.

Light show

Both cars get halogen headlamps as standard, but the Superbcan be specified with £1,295 bi-xenons with distinctive LED running lights. For £710, you can fit your Passat with full LED lamps that feature distinctive ‘sweeping’ indicators. A £1,205 Premium LED upgrade adds dynamic cornering function.

Superb emits slightly more CO2 than the Passat, at 108g/km, but lower list price means it’ll cost higher-rate earners £239 a year less in Benefit in Kind. However, VW has just announced a 95g/km Passat BlueMotion, while a sub-100g/km Superb is coming, too.

Verdict

1st place: Skoda Superb

We always knew it would take something special to topple the Passat; we just didn’t expect a new star to arrive so soon. The latest Superb delivers the same unrivalled practicality and value, but it now adds head-turning style and an upmarket interior to the mix. It’s also supremely comfortable, good to drive and loaded with cutting-edge kit. This new model is Superb by name and nature. 

2nd place: VW Passat

Make no mistake: the Passat is still a fine family car choice. It’s sharp to drive, practical, beautifully built and, in SE Business guise, comes with all the kit you’re likely to need. The four-door body isn’t as practical as the Skoda’s hatchback layout, but it features more than enough space for most growing families. However, it looks expensive next to the Superb.

Other options in this category

Hyundai i40 107 CRDi SE Nav Business

Price: £23,900Engine: 1.7-litre 4cyl, 139bhp

Recently revised i40 looks as sharp as ever and comes loaded with kit, while its 1.7-litre diesel features a boost in power. It isn’t as composed to drive as the Superb, but it’s great value and backed by a five-year warranty.

Mazda 6 2.2D SE-L Nav

Price: £23,995Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 148bhp

If you value driving thrills above all else, the punchy, sharp-handling Mazda 6 should be at the top of your list. It also looks great, is attractively priced and comes with plenty of kit. However, it’s not as roomy as rivals.

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