Skoda Superb

Skoda Superb
Skoda Superb

The Superb is a car with a confusing brochure. Flicking through the dimensions and equipment pages convinces you you're dealing with a large executive. However, turn to the price list and the numbers don't stack up, because Skoda is adamant it can sell you one for family car money.

The previous Superb's trademark feature was its segment-defying rear legroom. Amazingly, the new model is wider than before, as well as longer with a longer wheelbase. Despite this, its more advanced MQB platform means it's a considerable lighter too, 75kg in fact.

This recipe of big space for small outlay has seen more than 42,000 people sign up for a Superb in the UK since 2002; not a volume seller but an important one nonetheless.

Understanding the Skoda Superb's place

Its competitive pricing and big cabin give the Superb a wide spectrum of fleet-biased rivals, but it's ultimately the likes of Vauxhall's Insignia Grand Sport, some way clear of a Ford's Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen's Volkswagen Passat at one end and Audi's Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz's C-Class, Jaguar's Jaguar XE and BMW 's 3 Series at the other end, that Skoda will want its new Superb to be elbowing out of the way.


Overall, it is a good car to drive but not great. Skoda This 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel feels no less punchy than it does in the lighter Skoda Octavia, being committed from as low as 1400rpm and properly together by 1800rpm. Revving it out reveals a usefully wide band of torque, too, with no steps in the power delivery.

Our car was fitted with Skoda's six-speed, twin-clutch automatic which continues to frustrate in the same areas as almost all other applications. It dithers from standstill and lags on some manual down changes. Left to its own devices, though, the changes are generally quick and smooth on the move.

It's a hushed engine at idle, this 2.0-litre, and settles down quickly on the motorway in sixth gear. Push hard, however, and it starts to get vocal in the cabin and send back some vibration at the pedals. That said, it's no worse than a Passat or it's not a 3 Series-equivalent diesel.

But the Superb's engine range is vast with six alternative engine options. Propping up the range is a pair of 1.4 TSIs producing 123bhp and 148bhp resepectively, while at the top of the petrol tree is a pair of 2.0 TSIs punching out 217bhp and 276bhp. While the diesel range consists of a 118bhp 1.6-litre and a 187bhp 2.0-litre TDIs.

Handling the Skoda Superb's character

Versions with adaptive dampers, such as our 18in-wheeled test car, have three modes - Normal, Comfort and Sport. While the Superb's steering is always vague, Sport gives it some weight and inspires more confidence in exploring what are actually fairly high levels of grip, as well as stiffening the dampers and keeping the body on its best behaviour.

Make no mistake, though - while the Superb's front end isn't entirely without urgency, this is no Ford Mondeo and certainly no 3 Series in the handling department.

The Superb's ride hinders its mid-corner composure, too. In Normal and Comfort modes, initial contact with bumps is less abrupt but there's too much vertical body movement. Stiffen things up with Sport and undulating roads are better tamed, but sharp edged imperfections are more prominent in the cabin. Again, a standard Mondeo or an adaptive damper-equipped 3 Series or Passat are far more accomplished here.

None of these rivals can match the Superb for space, though. Four tall adults enjoy executive levels of head- and legroom, while three adults can be comfortably accommodated across the rear seats.

These same seats can be split 60/40 and folded down using standard boot wall levers. The result is a long square space, even if there's a pronounced boot lip to lift heavy bags over and a step-up in the boot floor caused by the rear seatbacks. With the rear seats returned to their upright position, boot space is an impressive 625 litres for 2015 - markedly more than all of the car's rivals.

Our Laurin and Klement model's cabin looked and felt suitably well built and classy. Soft, dense plastics are to be found on the dash and door cards. There are areas of stitched leather, too. From SE trim and upwards, the Superb now comes with two umbrellas, one in each front door - a nice touch. Ultimately, BMW 3 Series inside but the Superb is verging on Passat territory and is Ford Mondeo.

Its infotainment system is better than a Mondeo's, too, and is the same basic system as found in VW's Passat. Our car had the biggest 8.0-in touchscreen which was bright, responsive and easy to navigate. BMW's even more intuitive iDrive system continues to lead the way, however.

Big on space, bigger on equipment

As for trims, there are five to choose from - S, SE, SE L, SportLine and Laurin & Klement (as tested here). Opt for an entry-level Superb and you'll find 16in alloy wheels, front foglights, rear LED lights, tinted rear windows, electric windows, electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors and an electronic parking brake as standard. Inside there is air conditioning, height adjustable front seats, and an infotainment system with an 6.5in screen, DAB radio, and Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

Upgrade to SE and the Superb gains 17in alloy wheels, cornering foglights, adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, auto wipers and two umbrellas stored in the front doors. There is also an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system complete with smartphone integration. SE L Executive models add 18in alloy wheels, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, heated front seats, a leather upholstery and a 9.2in touchscreen infotainment system complete with wi-fi hotspot, DVD drive and sat nav.

As the name suggests, SportLine-trimmed Superbs get a sporty feel with 19in alloys, a bodykit, rear spoiler, Alcantara-clad sports seats, twin exhaust system all present. As is an electrically adjustable driver's seat, ambient LED interior lighting and keyless entry and ignition.

Topping the range is the Laurin & Klement trim which adorns an extra layer of luxury on the big Skoda, with adaptive suspension, 18in alloys, floor mats, tri-zone climate control, heated seats in the front and back, heated windscreen and safety technology including blind spot monitoring, lane guidance and a parking assistant.

In more sensible trims the Superb is considerably more spacious and practical than its nearest rivals, is better equipped and competitively clean and frugal. That's good news for both private and company buyers alike.

However, if you put driving pleasure first, probably not. A Ford Mondeo and 3 Series are both more fun, and both manage to be more comfortable at the same time. VAG group has made sure its more expensive Volkswagen Passat feels it inside, too.