I have to say I love my Clio as a runaround that still has an excellent safety record. However, We have had a couple of Skoda's and in general have been very impressed. We had a Skoda Roomster which was very practical and had no issues at all in the 4 years we had it - I would say the feel of it was maybe a bit cheaper than our current Octavia estate but was still nice to drive with no roll round corners that you sometimes get with a higher car. The Octavia Estate we have now is really lovely and has a humungous boot - as does the saloon - very reliable that's why taxi drivers use them so much. 2 years old and nothing needed done.
I've had my Clio 5 years from new - done 21K so not huge mileage and all i have needed is 2 new tyres and a replacement ball joint.
Probably the most practical car we had ever was the Renault scenic - the original MPV. we had 3 in row! and you can definitely get 3 car setas along the back. I don't think we needed that by the time we had the roomster so not sure if it can.
hotair, yes it does have underfloor strage and drawers under the front seats I think too - there seemed to be loads of places to keep stuff. Not sure what erf seats are and why that wouldn't work but take your word for it That's a shame - Toyota Verso maybe my neighbour has one of those.
I can fit a lot in my cmax boot I fit 2 large pushchairs in last week. Its a lot bigger than a normal car boot. The boot is bigger than our sil's Sharan (like smax) as the 7 seaters tend to lose boot space to make way for the third row of seats. It alzo has underfoot storage in the floor space and cubby holes in the sides of the boot too. Can you tell I love mine!
Okay, I see what you mean now - I guess you could pack it solid with something that doesn't "give" sand bags maybe? Although you may find that the support leg doesn't actually impact where the storage bins are - the advantage is that the rear floor is flat without the raised bit in the middle so there is a far greater floor area anyway.