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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate vs New Skoda Superb Estate

By raccars Published

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The new Skoda Superb Estate is ruffling automotive feathers, with a larger boot and more horsepower than the mighty Mercedes E-Class Estate - for a lower price.

The established leader

Estates are having their moment in the sun. They have enjoyed a rather staid reputation as the sensible family car, but newer estates are proving as stylish and entertaining to drive as their hatchback and saloon equivalents. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has always been the godfather of premium estates. With a 1,855 litre boot, class-leading efficiency and a wonderfully luxurious interior, it's very hard to beat. However the new Skoda Superb Estate is looking like a very interesting challenger...

The numbers are all on its side, together with speed and power outputs. It can outclass the Merc in maximum cargo weight and maximum towing weight, which are often important criteria for buyers of load luggers. Much as badge prestige counts for a lot - thousands on the list price, in particular - estate buyers are all about the practical. While Skoda has put considerable effort into making the Superb look and feel like a premium class car, the company is astute enough to know that the vitals are key in this market.

The contender: the new Skoda Superb Estate

The Superb, for example, not only benefits from some interesting extra features over the Merc, such as a useful four wheel drive format, but it has an insurance rating some 11 groups lower than its more expensive rival. That saves the Skoda owner hundreds of pounds every year in running costs.

In aesthetic terms there's very little to choose between the two, as both are handsome cars inside and out. Mercedes-Benz might be known for its fine interior furnishings but Skoda has put considerable effort into creating a premium quality finish for the new Superb. It's when it comes to loading the boot that you'll notice the Skoda edging ahead. But honestly, on an everyday basis few people will be filling either of these models to their ultimate capacity, which might include a couple of Great Danes, a pram, a stepladder and a dishwasher. The Mercedes boasts a marginally wider aperture to the boot, which could make loading easier, but the Skoda has more height.

When it comes to carrying passengers the Skoda, while slightly smaller in measurements than the E-Class, is once again more spacious. The front passenger seat can also fold down for extra space - a trick the E-Class misses. On the other hand, with the rear seats folded, the E-Class boot floor is far flatter than its upstart rival and offers conveniently placed remote release levers for the rear seat backs. The Skoda is available with some extra cargo space functionality as an expensive optional extra, but since there is less than £5,000 between the cars, it starts to look rather expensive for a car which, while full of virtues, is by no means matching the Merc's badge prestige.

On the road, surprisingly the Superb is the better drive, smoother, more refined and more relaxed. The E-Class's sportier driving characteristics make it slightly less comfortable in this regard. What Skoda has achieved here is certainly impressive, but the E-Class isn't a soft target. Buyers comparing the two are unlikely to be swayed by the very small practical differences between them, and the price difference is relatively modest.

Badge snobbery is likely to play a major part and that's one hurdle Skoda has yet to overcome. For all the Czech firm's demonstrable quality, it doesn't have the decades of premium experience and historic legacy of its rival. How bothered are die-hard Merc buyers likely to be?

Search for both of these cars on RAC Cars:

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate

Skoda Superb Estate

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