The Northern Echo:

ON THE ROAD: CAR company's continually try to invent new ways of describing their products - some work, some do not.

At least Skoda's roomy hatch does what it says on the tin - Spaceback.

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Not just a practical car, it's also nice to look at - especially with all that glass, which extends across the roof and down the boot.

The Sport version we tested had a neat set of alloys and flares and creases to make it stand out from the crowd. It offers something for everyone, including the 40-something dad still hankering after his youth.

Our car was powered by a 1.4 litre TDI engine, with 90bhp. Nought to 62 took11.6 seconds, while the top speed came in at 114mph.

In first gear, the Spaceback can be a little too keen to get away and I unintentionally spun the wheels on more than one occasion setting off from the lights. Once away, things settle down.

It rides well and because of its low centre of gravity, it takes corners in its stride too.

ON THE INSIDE: THERE'S nothing out the ordinary in the interior of the Spaceback. It is not going to win any design awards on this front, but it is clean, clutter free and appears well constructed. There is little to get in the way of the driving experience and everything you want is right where you would expect it to be. The seats in our car were supportive enough and kept you in one place when going round corners. All that glass means it's a bright and airy place to sit in.

WHAT DO YOU GET: OUR SE Sport model came with 17ins alloys, three-spoke leather multi-function steering wheel, six loudspeakers, acoustic rear parking sensors, Amundsen sat nav and DAB, black spoiler, chrome interior surrounds, climate control air conditioning, cruise control, extended tailgate glass and cornering front fog lights. In addition, there was a leather handbrake lever, Mobile Device Interface, panoramic glass roof, rear electric windows, sports seats, Style pack, sunset glass, Bluetooth, tinted fog lights, tinted glass and tinted rear lights. Options included front parking sensors, metallic paint, front and rear floor mats, heated front seats and heated washer nozzles and Skoda's SmartLink system.

HOW PRACTICAL IS IT: HEADROOM and legroom is generous and our family of five found it comfortable on a 50-mile round trip. The boot has 415 litres of space, though the raking rear window might put paid to carrying some larger items. Drop the seats and that increases to 1,381 litres, large enough to carry a racing bike with the front wheel removed.

RUNNING COSTS: SKODA say it should be possible to get a return of 78.5mpg on the combined cycle. We managed 55.9mpg after a week of motorway and urban driving. CO2 emissions on our car were 94g/km.

VERDICT: ROOMY hatch with more than a little style in Sport guise.

ALTERNATIVES: VOLKSWAGEN Golf, Ford Focus