A handsome and spacious wagon that's exceptionally well thought out
Skoda's reached a bit of a cross-roads in New Zealand. It's out of the government fleet loop that accounted for half its sales last year, and risks becoming an irrelevance if it doesn't lift its game.
Hence a tactical price and specification reshuffle for everything from Fabia up - and the arrival of this Superb Combi, the wagon variant of the big sedan.
Both moves should put Superb within range of existing large car buyers; literally, in Auckland, where Skodas now sell alongside Holdens. They don't have that iconic history - but do field VW-group aura, and super-frugal options.
This is a handsome and spacious wagon that's exceptionally well thought out - especially in the upper two variants with the boot luggage rails, dividers, nets, seatbelt for your case, bag hooks and pop-out magnetic torch. Even the tailgate hinge sits high on the roof so it'll open in without much rear leeway.
The seats fold flat without removing the headrests, too - taking the space available from 633 to 1865 litres. Yet the car eschews the boxy load-hauler lines preferred by Volvo and its ilk in favour of a more graceful profile.
It certainly blitzes the wagon job, then.
Up front there'll be a 1.8 TSI entry-level petrol engine with 118kW and 250Nm controlled via a seven-speed DSG auto. This TSI tech delivers more punch than expected from the capacity courtesy the broad torque band, with the peak delivered from 1500rpm. Yet it's also frugal, with a claimed 7.3l/100km thirst. As the entry-level wagon - with only seven airbags and no Bluetooth standard - it retails at $48,500. Holden Omega territory; unless you're a died-in-the-wool Holden fan, you will be tempted.
Above that 1.8 there are low and high-powered 2.0-litre diesels - badged 103 and 125 - and a 3.6-litre V6 with four-wheel-drive. The latter two were the cars available at launch, fitted with 18-inch alloys and sports suspension.
Smart, spacious interiors are a given for the Superb, but handling and cabin noise often suffer in the step from sedan to wagon.
Not here. Rebound damping was well controlled over our lumpy test route, though ride was a little firm; I'd bet the standard set-up's a touch comfier. There was noticeable bump steer on bigger mid-bend hits, but easily corrected. The Holden Sportwagen may be a more capable performer near the limit, but few drivers push their wagons that far.
The 125 diesel delivered a pleasant performance punch while proving refined enough at cruising speeds. The V6 not surprisingly felt stronger over a wider rev range - but then it drank a lot more fuel, too, with a claimed 10.2l/100km thirst to the 125 diesel's 6.1.
This 125 diesel and the 3.6 are available at launch, with the 1.8 and lower-powered 103 arriving in August with Bluetooth and rear airbags dropped.
Standard spec for all cars includes seven airbags, traction and stability control, ABS brakes, front fog lights, rear parking sensors, rain sensing wipers, roof rails, cruise control, and even goodies like a chilled glovebox.
Cost options include under-boot storage, that sports suspension, and Bluetooth prep.
Skoda NZ is making a mighty effort to attract mainstream attention, not least by leveraging improved exchange rates and entry-level spec. Fabia now starts at $28,000; Octavia at $37,000; Superb enters at $46,000 - in each case adding $2500 for the wagon variant; and Yeti drops four grand to $48,000.
At those prices, Skoda's a real alternative for those willing to take the road less travelled.
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