The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Cover Story - RICHARD BLACK­BURN CARSGUIDE ED­I­TOR

FAM­ILY sedans are dis­ap­pear­ing from our drive­ways. Once the de­fault choice of mid­dle Aus­tralia, they have been for­got­ten in the rush to board the SUV band­wagon.

As the end of the road nears for the Fal­con and Com­modore and as Camry pro­duc­tion switches over­seas, the “big car for a big coun­try” might be con­signed to the his­tory books.

Car mak­ers aren’t ready to give up the ghost just yet, though, which is good news for prospec­tive buy­ers.

They are throw­ing ev­ery­thing bar the kitchen sink at their mid-size cars to make them com­pet­i­tive in a shrink­ing mar­ket. That means there are some very com­pe­tent, well equipped cars at very good prices.

We’ve picked three of the best: last year’s Car of the Year fi­nal­ist, the VW Passat, its new Skoda Su­perb sta­ble­mate and the up­dated Subaru Lib­erty. In many ways, the Su­perb is the clos­est of these three to a Fal­con or Com­modore. It has the most power and torque by a com­fort­able mar­gin, which means it de­liv­ers ef­fort­less per­for­mance when over­tak­ing or cruis­ing on a coun­try road. It also has acres of rear leg and head room and a jumbo boot.

That boot is an important point of dif­fer­ence here — it doesn’t have a rear par­cel shelf, which means that de­spite out­ward ap­pear­ances, it isn’t re­ally a sedan.

It’s what the Euro­peans call a lift­back — the boot and rear glass are one piece and when you re­move the par­cel tray and fold the rear seats you have a load area that is big­ger than some SUVs.

With the rear seats in place there’s 625L of space; fold them and it ex­pands to 1760L. In com­par­i­son, Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar SUV, the Mazda CX-5 has 403L and 1560L.

The rest of the pack­age is com­pelling as well. The lay­out and the qual­ity of cabin fin­ishes are fa­mil­iar to any­one who’s owned a VW.

It’s for­mal and dark in­side the cabin but the look is lifted by a strip of green am­bi­ent light PRICE $39,990 plus on-roads s WAR­RANTY 3 years/un­lim­ited km CAPPED SER­VIC­ING $1197 over 3 years SER­VICE IN­TER­VAL 12 months/15,000km SAFETY 5 stars, 9 airbags ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 162kW/350Nm TRANS­MIS­SION 6-speed auto; FWD THIRST 6.4L/100km (95RON) DI­MEN­SIONS 4861mm (L), 1864mm (W), 1468mm (H), 2841mm (WB) WEIGHT 1463kg BOOT 625L SPARE Tem­po­rary TOW­ING 2000kg 0-100KM/H 7.0 secs through the cabin. The menus for the sat­nav and ra­dio are easy to use and all the speedo and tacho di­als have big, easy to read fig­ures.

There are some thought­ful touches too, in­clud­ing a car park­ing ticket holder on the wind­screen and small rub­bish bin with a re­mov­able bag in thee driver’s door.

Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid d auto pro­vide ac­cess to phone apps and will read text mes­sages aloud (a fea­ture also on the Passat).

On the road, the Skoda is com­posed and ca­pa­ble, with a sportier edge than the other two here, thanks to its tur­bocharged 2.0-litre engine. The front wheels some­times

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