On June 21st, my life changed forever when I, Ethan Smale, became a dad for the first time. My son, Charlie, is my greatest achievement, but there are a lot of challenges my wife and I have had to overcome - like lack of sleep, no free time and trying not to vomit while changing a nappy.
Alongside a five-year-old Honda Jazz that we use as a family runaround, I’ve also been driving a Skoda Superb L&K estate for nine months. We’ve used it for various CT shoots, hypermiling trips, and as of lately, a dad-mobile, which has made me appreciate the Czech wagon more than I thought possible.
I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate the Superb’s massive boot, because once you have a child, trust me when I say that you won’t believe how much stuff you suddenly have to take with you.
Pre-Charlie, all I’d ever check were the classic trio of keys, wallet, phone. Now, though, the classic trio has morphed into a cumbersome octet of keys, wallet, phone, buggy, car seat, moses basket, changing bag, …oh, and son.
Fitting these things in the Jazz is always a time-consuming game of Tetris, while the Superb simply swallows the lot in any combination of your choosing. What’s more, there’s always loads of space to play with, which came in very handy when - sorry Skoda - Charlie decided to go for a wee in the boot as my wife was changing his nappy (it went everywhere!).
The large rear passenger space of the Skoda also help cut out wasted time, because getting Charlie in and out of his baby seat is far easier than in the far more cramped Jazz.
Speaking of baby seats…
Before I became a father, my knowledge of baby seats was non-existent. Maybe not as limited as Alex’s, though. Anyway, one method of anchoring a baby seat to a car is by strapping a seatbelt around it. The other, more modern method is to use an Isofix base which attaches to two points on the seats. This offers you a quick release system, which is handy to get the child in and out.
Both the Skoda and Honda have an anchorage feature, but I can’t put into words how much easier the modern version of Isofix is. In the Jazz, for example, the anchor points are so deep-rooted into the seat that getting the yellow attachment bars to click on to them is near-on impossible. And this means I’m reluctant to move the base around from car-to-car as I know that I’ve got a 20 minute job on my hands just to get it back in.
In the Superb, however, the Isofix process takes no more than 30 seconds; just pop the caps out, click them in and that’s it!
Being a dad has also made me appreciate the Superb’s safety features. This includes the car’s automatic braking system - that takes over braking in case you don’t spot a hazard before the car does - as well as something I’ve only discovered recently - electronic child locks. Now obviously Charlie is currently far too small and weak to open a door by himself, but in a few years, I’d certainly be making good use of the system.
Over the past nine months, I’ve clocked 8000 miles in the Superb. It’s taken my family and I to Devon and myself and the production team to Edinburgh, it’s been a great crew car and has made my new dad life so much easier. The car’s since gone back to Skoda (as all longtermers do), and with an estate-sized hole needing to be filled, I’m seriously considering buying a Skoda estate of my very own.