Our idea of the classic 3-box, 4-door saloon has been turned on its head by the three models here. They also overturn the common verdict that Mercedes-Benz makes the most comfortable continental cars, as we shall soon find out. Most importantly in times like these, the Skoda, Volkswagen and Citroen also offer decent value for money, without compromising their respective design and engineering ideals.
Of the threesome, the greatest leap forward is the Skoda Superb. After several years as a local taxi limo, the Superb returns as a bigger and better car, with seemingly stronger dealership support to boot. Just as crucially, you won’t be flagging down this new Skoda flagship, which is reserved for consumers rather than cabbies. The high-spec 1.8-litre model tested here is called, cheekily enough, Simply Superb.
Subtly fantastique is the Citroen C5, in 2-litre guise for this group test. The C5’s biggest change over its predecessor is its switch from a hatchback format to a saloon, albeit one that still looks a little like a 5-door from some angles. Sheer driving comfort and a great sense of Gallic style are the hallmarks of this Citroen mid-ranger, which also aspires to German levels of quality from bumper to bumper.
Representing Germany proper is the Passat CC, Volkswagen’s take on the successful Mercedes CLS concept. Essentially a regular Passat rebodied, “rebooted” and repositioned as a premium product, the Passat CC aims to be a snazzy alternative to a “basic” Audi A4. The Passat CC also works well as a stand-alone grand tourer, low slung yet high class, and custom designed for the fashion conscious.