“The best Skoda we’ve ever built.” Well, if you’re calling your car the Superb there’s no point in false modesty, is there?
It’s still quite a claim from Skoda’s head of PR but I’m inclined to agree with him.
Revealed to the press at the Stepford-ish “Skodaville” in the Highlands – where everything from the street signs to the shampoo were Skoda branded – the third generation Superb is bigger yet lighter, more luxurious yet with a lower entry price than the outgoing model.
It’s also a step up in quality. While there was little wrong with the previous model, this newest range not only makes life tough for natural rivals Ford and Vauxhall but should also have the premium brands paying attention. From the outside the Superb looks as good as anything from the German big three – sharp and mature, with precise lines. Inside it’s uncluttered and all the surfaces and switchgear scream quality. It’s hard to believe that this car starts at just over £18,000.
The Superb has always been at the head of the pack for size and space and this time around a bigger body and extended wheelbase create even more room.
At 6’ 5” my driving position almost inevitably leads to a miserable experience for anyone behind me. Not in the Superb. Not only did I have ample room in the front but there was still space for another gangly freak my size in the row behind.
The passenger space doesn’t come at the expense of load-lugging. Even the hatchback manages 625 litres of storage, bested by the estate’s class-leading 660 litres. With the seats down, the estate can swallow almost 2000 litres of luggage and a variety of neat solutions ensure it stays well secured.
Skoda’s motto is ‘simply clever’ and the Superb is packed with additions that make a difference in real life rather than just looking good on paper. A bottle holder designed so you can open your drink one-handed; a boot light that doubles as a torch; the virtual pedal that opens the tailgate with the wave of a foot under the bumper – all features with tangible benefits.
Buyers will also feel the benefits of Skoda’s generosity when it comes to equipment. Even base S spec cars have touchscreen media systems with DAB radio, multifunction leather steering wheel and Front Assist, which uses radar to scan the road, warn of collision risks and even stop the car. Up the range the touchscreens get bigger, the infotainment systems cleverer and comforts such as tri-zone climate
control and heated leather memory seats appear as standard.
With the fleet market squarely in its sights, the Superb has to deliver on the road as well. There are seven engines, all more powerful and cleaner than before. If frugal is your thing there’s a 118bhp diesel that delivers 70mpg. At the opposite end of the scale you can have a 276bhp petrol unit, which will deliver you to 62mph in under six seconds.
Our test took in the biggest and smallest of the diesels – the 118bhp 1.6l and the 187bhp 2.0l. Common sense says that – even slimmed down by 75kg from last generation – the Superb is too much car for a tiny 118bhp unit. On the road, however, it simply didn’t feel that way. Yes, you have to stir the six-speed gearbox a bit more than with the
higher-output engines but the little 1.6 acquitted itself astonishingly well.
The 2.0l with its extra 69bhp is a more invigorating prospect and with the seamless six-speed DSG gearbox was never found wanting. It allegedly returns the same 68mpg as the 147bhp variant, making it seem the obvious choice, but is only available in the two most expensive trims.
The 2.0l model came with Dynamic Chassis Control and drive mode selection. On Highland roads Sport was the obvious mode and with everything stiffened and sharpened the Superb cut an impressive dash around Wester Ross. It was firm and responsive without crashing over rough patches. The 1.6l lacked such extras but still managed to be smooth and comfortable without detouring into spongy.
While Skoda talk mostly about Mondeo and Insignia as the Superb’s rivals, there’s no hiding from the VW-shaped elephant in the room. The Passat and Superb share the same MQB platform and much of the technology is common across the two models. The Superb feels better to drive and thanks to keen pricing, it comes in up to two grand cheaper than a similarly specced Passat. Frankly, it’s a no-brainer.
That Superb delivers massively on value is hardly a surprise. That it delivers so comprehensively everywhere else is what makes it difficult to ignore.
There really is no other word for it, the big Skoda is simply Superb.