The Superb has always been a rational purchase, a car bought with your head, not your heart. This model, though, is a classy, desirable flagship for Skoda’s range. It’s a really sharp-looking car, looking and feeling like a true premium rival for the likes of the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class. This means it looks a lot sharper at the back, with lots of hard lines and creases helping disguise the fact it’s now longer and wider than before. All versions come with alloy wheels, starting at 16 inches for ‘S’ models, rising to up to 19 inches on the top-spec versions. These models also have xenon headlights with LED running lights, and darkened rear glass for a sportier look.
Bigger is definitely better in the Superb. You can really feel the difference made by the increase in width and height in the cabin: this is as spacious as family cars get.
The Superb now shares a lot of parts with a wide range of cars, including the Volkswagen Passat, Audi A3 saloon, and the Octavia. Obviously, that means that it now looks and feels quite similar to its smaller sibling, with the same switchgear, buttons and dials all present and correct. However, that also means it inherits the same sturdy build quality, comfortable driving position and logical dash layout of those cars – so there is little to complain about. Smart new features include an umbrella in each door (on SE models and above) and a cup holder that will grip the bottom of your water bottle, so you can open it one-handed while driving.
This really is the Skoda Superb’s forte. Even this hatchback has enough boot space to embarrass most large estate cars, with 625 litres of loading area behind the back seats, which increases to 1,760 once they are folded down. This can be done using the spring-loaded levers in the boot, making packing larger items easier. Head-, leg- and shoulder room are all more generous than in the VW Passat, Ford Mondeo or Mazda 6, and there are handy features everywhere you look. For example, the parcel shelf has a stowage slot that it slides into when it’s in the way. There is a magnetic torch in the boot, and you can buy a storage pack with Velcro dividers that stick to the boot floor and stop your bags rolling around. Visibility is good for such a big car, and it’s still easy to judge exactly where the limits are, despite the step up in size. For those who struggle though, parking sensors are standard on SE models and upwards – to avoid any nasty dings.
Ride and handling
Comfort and composure are the top priorities for the Superb. It delivers both in spades – but that also means it feels really capable (rather than exciting) to drive. There is plenty of grip, and the option to increase this further with all-wheel drive available with the most powerful engines in the line up. The steering is precise, and accurate enough to place the front end with assured confidence, but a Ford Mondeo is a little more fun when the road starts to turn. All the cars we drove were fitted with the optional adaptive dampers – which have three modes (comfort, normal, and Sport) – but we found these a little unconvincing. In the softest setting, the car bobs and pitches, taking too long to react to imperfections in the road, while the hardest setting can be quite jittery over smaller lumps and bumps on town roads.
The vast majority of buyers are likely to pick one of the three punchy diesels
A wide selection of engines means there is usually something for everyone, and the Skoda Superb certainly gives buyers plenty of options to choose from. However, despite a range of refined petrols, including a 1.4 with 148bhp and cylinder shut-off technology to reduce CO2 emissions, the vast majority of buyers are likely to pick one of the three diesels. There’s a 1.6 with 118bhp, and a 2.0-litre with either 148- or 187bhp. We tried both the 2.0-litre models, and although there’s not a big difference in performance (both have a decent spread of torque available across most of the rev range) the lesser version feels a tad more refined at speed. The manual ‘box has a light, but positive, action, and the clutch is light enough to make precise changes. The petrol model needs working harder to make quicker progress, but it’s great for pootling around town, and really smooth and flexible, even when you do push it.
For what is an undeniably vast car, the Superb’s running costs should be fairly reasonable. The 2.0-litre TDI 150 for example, produces just 108g/km. The latest Passat is a tad cleaner, due to being smaller in size, and the Ford Mondeo is cleaner and a bit cheaper (in Zetec trim), but there is no doubt the Superb represents great value. A Greenline model with emissions below 100g/km will be launched soon, for those who really do need to keep their tax bills as low as possible. Servicing, insurance and PCP loan costs should all be highly competitive, but the Passat is likely to command slightly better resale values – but spec-for-spec, the Superb is slightly cheaper, which should even things out.
All the engines in the range have been tried and tested in other VW Group cars
Skoda customer satisfaction is consistently sky high, with buyers reporting excellent dealer service, and very few problems with their cars. We fully expect the latest Superb to enhance that strong reputation in the industry. All the engines in the range have been tried and tested in other VW Group cars, which should hopefully mean no hiccups or nasty surprises. Yearly service intervals and a three-year or 60,000-mile warranty come as standard, with the option to pay for up to five years’ cover to help it compete with brands like Toyota and Hyundai.
Like the Octavia with which it shares so many parts, the Superb also scored a maximum five stars when it was crash tested by the experts at Euro NCAP. All versions come with six airbags, traction- and stability control, hill hold assist to prevent you rolling away from steep junctions, and a multi-collision brake system that applies the brakes automatically if it senses a crash, to avoid further impacts. Higher up the range, blind spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, full park assist, and city emergency braking all feature, and there is even a traffic jam assistant that will steer, brake and accelerate for you at low speed, to keep you rolling along even in the longest of tailbacks. Basically, whatever kit you can imagine, the Skoda has all the bases covered – it just depends how much each buyer wants to fork out for the optional systems available. The only exception is a set of 360-degree cameras to give you a top-down view, but it’s right up there with the class best.
Even the cheapest Superb comes very generously equipped
There are five different trim levels, but even the cheapest Superb comes very generously equipped, despite costing less than the equivalent VW Passat. So for ‘S’ models standard features include a leather steering wheel, DAB radio, Bluetooth, air-conditioning, and a touchscreen for the infotainment system. The SE adds key extras like adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, cornering fog lights, and two umbrellas in each of the front doors, so you’ll never get caught out in the rain.There’s an SE Business model, priced exactly the same as the SE, which includes sat-nav, Alcantara upholstery, front parking sensors, and (from 2016) a wireless charging pad for your smartphone. Laurin & Klement models ramp up the luxury kit, with leather seats, tri-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, and an upgraded 10-speaker hi-fi, but they push the asking price well beyond what you might call reasonable – into BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 territory.
You are a company car driver with a keen eye on price, but a taste for the finer things in life. The Skoda hits a real sweet spot as a fleet buyer – it looks better than a Passat, has more room than anything else in the class, and is affordable to buy and run. It feels like a plush executive car from the class above, and as long as you choose the right spec, it’s great value. Well worth putting on the shopping list.