The trend towards packing more into an ever-tighter space can drive you to despair.
But despair not if you want a genuinely roomy and comfortable family car and look no further than the Skoda Octavia.
Launched this year as the second generation Octavia following eight years of the first, this Czech creation is available as a hatchback which looks like a saloon but has 1,580 litres bootspace, and an estate offering up to 1,740 litres luggage room.
In short, it’s a big deal for not big bucks.
They come with a choice of 1.2 or 1.4 petrol engines and four diesels from 1.6 to 2.0 litres, five or six speed manual gearboxes and six or seven speed DSG automatics in both bodystyles.
These latest engines from the Volkswagen power house mean even the 105ps 1.2 is well up to its task in the 1156kg SE hatch we tested.
It’s a quick starter, pulls strongly and smoothly and only ever makes itself heard at higher revs in lower gears. Used three up it did need more gear-changing to make good progress on country roads but it was a very light and direct gearchange so it was no effort.
We did not achieve the combined fuel consumption figure the technical panel suggests but still nudged 50mpg at times without any real effort.
Underfoot, the brakes had very good feel and power while the steering had a good turning circle even if it felt a little dead in action.
Handling was not sports car like but it felt safe and responsive, it turned tightly in town and the ride was very compliant and smooth even when lightly laden.
Secondary switches were close to hand, the instruments straightforward and very clear with good stalks and a host of high-level additional features including sophisticated intelligent lights, crash avoidance and protection, a comprehensive on-board computer and entertainment system.
Oddments room is excellent throughout and the bootspace rises from a minimum 570 litres if you opt for a full size spare wheel.
The hatch lifted from knee-height to a long stretch up and gave excellent luggage access to a well shaped rear compartment behind the individually split back seats.
Inside the cabin the shoulder, leg and headroom is among the best even for a car in a bigger class and the seats are well shaped and have good support, with the seats offering a lot of adjustment room.
Visibility is excellent all round and the test car came with cornering or turning front fog lights but self-dipping headlights are optional on the SE.
The test car was fitted with the £530 optional parking assistant which automatically senses and then places the vehicle in a parking bay or space and while this may seem expensive it could save you from considerable bodywork repairs or an insurance claim. Perhaps it’s the living-room space or the ordered nature of the controls and undemanding driving character of the Skoda Octavia SE 1.2TSi but there’s no doubting here is a car which is easy to live with and not a strain on the budget.
It would be harder to put your finger on a better buy in this class.
Skoda Octavia SE 1.2TSi
Price: £17,190 (with fitted options £19,745)
Insurance group: 13
Mechanical: 4cyl 16v 105ps 1197cc engine, 6sp
Max speed: 122mph
Combined mpg: 57.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 114gkm
BIK rating: VED band C/ 14%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles