What makes the Skoda Superb so "superb"? The price! The Skoda Superb costs about the same as popular company cars like the Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo. Yet, the Superb is as large as upper class cars like the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The new generation is about as big as the previous model, but thanks to a longer wheelbase (+8 cm) and shorter overhang (-6 cm) the design is more harmonious. The pronounced wheel arches and the aerodynamic rear door make the car look sleeker than before.
The cabin space hasn't changed and is still overwhelming. The boot measures 625 litres, which increases to 1,760 litres by folding down the rear seat. By comparison: this means the Superb offers more space than an Audi A8, Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7-Series!
The space on the back seat is also comparable to a real limousine. The passenger's seat can be adjusted electronically from the rear seat, which makes it clear that the Superb is also meant to be used as a chauffeured car. However, the rear seat cannot be adjusted in any way and the leg rest is too short to offer enough comfort on long drives.
To make matters worse, there's a huge "bulge" in the floor between the left and right back seat. If the car is fitted with a four-wheel drive system, this houses the drive shaft. But because it also contributes to the integral structure of the car, even the front-wheel drive versions have this bump in the floor.
When it comes to spec levels, Skoda made a simple choice: the Superb can be fitted with all the luxury and every safety feature the brand has to offer.
Skoda is part of the Volkswagen Group, and to give the rivalling Passat a fighting chance, Skoda didn't get access to two new features. The Passat has cameras all round, while the Superb only has a single reversing camera. The Skoda features the obligatory electronic stability programme ("ESP"), while the Passat features trailer stability assist as well (on the other hand: who needs a trailer with a car this spacious?).
Except for these details, the Skoda driver has little left to wish for. For example, adaptive cruise-control (automatically keeping a safe distance from the car in front), "traffic jam assist", three zone climate control, automatic high beam (high beam always on, without blinding opposing traffic) and blind spot detection (warning when there's an object in the blind sport of the wing mirror) are all available.
When it comes to connecting to a mobile phone, again Skoda offers everything. Skoda didn't choose MirrorLink or Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but simply offers all three of them! On top of that Skoda offers its own "Smart Gate" app which can analyse every ride to improve driving style. The optional "Canton" audio system deserves special notice. The sound quality is so high (clear, detailed, powerful, spacious) that it is worth far more than the modest price Skoda asks for it.
Every Skoda has several small, simple innovations that make everyday life with the car more pleasant, while hardly increasing the price. Skoda calls this "Simply Clever".
The most important of these features are umbrella pockets in the doors, USB and 220 volt sockets in the rear, bottle holders (1.5 litres) in all doors and a boot light that doubles as a torch. The shape of the fuel "hole" prevents the driver from putting the wrong fuel (diesel or petrol) in the car. A cradle can be fixed on the front headrests or in a space in the rear armrest to mount a tablet computer.
To appeal to a wide audience, the Superb can now be fitted with adaptive suspension. In the standard mode the suspension is very soft, making this car more comfortable than average. Select the comfortable mode and the Superb is as smooth as a classic American limousine.
It's only when engaging sports mode, that the Superb handles like the average car in this segment. In critical situations the Superb always reacts predictably and safe.
A smart alternative to a limousine demands equally smart engines. The smartest of those is the "1.4 TSI ACT". This turbo engine develops 150 PS / 250 Nm. When little power is demanded, two of the four cylinders are temporarily shut down to save fuel. This isn't noticeable, but according to Skoda it saves up to 1 litre of petrol per 100 km.
This relatively small engine revs much more easily than the larger engines that are usually mounted in cars like this. On top of that the 1.4 TSI strongly relies on the turbo. When the engine speed drops below 1,500 rpm, the car almost stalls. Above 4,000 rpm the peak power is so overwhelming that it disrupts the steering ("torque steer").
At first, the 1.4 TSI feels like an engine that delivers either too little or too much power. But rest assured, eventually the driver finds the balance between the two making it a pleasure to drive such a lively car. And... the 1.4 TSI is pretty frugal! Even on a highly demanding route the test car used 6.1 litres per 100 km (46 mpg).
As an alternative to the 1.4 TSI a bigger 1.8 TSI petrol engine is available. In real life the difference isn't in the extra punch (180 PS / 320 Nm), but in the ease with which the larger engine delivers its power. The 1.8 TSI isn't only quieter, but it is also more flexible at low revs while being more comfortable at high speeds.
The smallest diesel engine on the price list is the "1.6 TDI". This develops 120 PS / 250 Nm, which is adequate to keep up with traffic. But that's it. As soon as more power is required, for example in the mountains or when driving with four persons plus luggage, this base engine has to work so hard that it affects comfort (and fuel efficiency!).
That's why the "2.0 TDI" (190 PS / 400 Nm) is certainly worth the extra money. Even at low revs the bigger diesel engine is much stronger, giving the driver the superior feeling that makes cars like these so attractive. And because the engine doesn't have to work too hard to perform, it is easier to save fuel (test drive took 5.4 litres per 100 km (52 mpg)).
Life gets even better when the 2.0 TDI is connected to a DSG gearbox. Thanks to the dual clutch it shifts quicker and smoother than any chauffeur can. It makes the Superb even more comfortable, making this a true limousine at the price of the average company car.
The Superb is Skoda's top model. Previously, the Superb combined Skoda's down-to-earth philosophy with the space of a limousine. The new Superb is different: it offers the very best the brand has to offer.
Therefore, it seems like the Superb defeats its own purpose, but despite all improvements the price remains as low as before. At the same time it is even harder to point out where Skoda cut corners to cut the price. The list of negative points is limited to some "futilities", while the list of strong points is too long for this conclusion. In short: Skoda's top model just became "superber".
- Good drive
- Spacious as a limousine
- Excellent value for money
- Small glove box
- Poor acoustics in the rear
- Bump in floor in front or rear seat
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