The Skoda Superb has always combined large-car space with the fuel efficiency of a much smaller machine. Is the facelifted model still a great big bargain?
Base price: $56,900. Powertrain and performance: 2.0-litre turbo diesel four 125kW/350Nm, 6-speed automated dual-clutch manual (DSG), front-drive, Combined economy 5.4 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 8.7 seconds. Vital statistics: 4833mm long, 1511mm high, luggage capacity 603/1385 litres, fuel tank 60 litres, 18-inch alloy wheels on 225/40 Continental SportContact 2 tyres. We like: Facelift works well on Superb, space, equipment, economy. We don’t like: Easy to underestimate exterior dimensions, soft suspension, no reversing camera. How it rates: 7/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? Skoda has been going through something of a product renewal at the moment, with new Rapid and Octavia models that share the same revised corporate styling.
The flagship Superb is now the oldest model in the range, but it hasn’t been completely left behind: it has a new nose and tail (including snazzy LED tail lights) to match the design cues of its smaller siblings. Our test car arguably shows Superb at its best: it’s a wagon (which is the default choice for most buyers) and it’s powered by the top diesel engine, which combines serious torque with impressive thrift.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? The Superb is big, comfortable and not a bit sporty. I mean that in a good way, because it’s unusual for any new car to be biased towards comfort these days – even luxury models seem to have track-day aspirations. The Superb TDI 125 is all about strong low-down torque, gentle steering progression and a compliant ride. If that means it wallows a little when you charge too hard into a corner, so be it. That’s your fault, not the car’s. The soft suspension and gearchanging alacrity of the six-speed dual-clutch transmission do mean you have to take it easy with the throttle at times. It’s all too easy to spin the front wheels in bumpy corners, as 350Nm of torque and a bit of weight transfer take over the dynamic experience. Nothing major, merely a reminder that this is a stately express, not a sports wagon.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? The Superb is Holden Commodore size, so it’s really only a car for buyers who are prepared to accept a vast footprint as opportunity cost for serious passenger and luggage space. Bearing that in mind, the Superb is still brilliantly package and lavishly equipped for the price. Limousine-like rear legroom has always been a Superb trait and this model continues it. Stretch out, relax. The interior architecture is very conservative looking but well-built (that’s the way Skoda does things). This model comes in Elegance specification, which includes leather with heated seats front and rear, a great satellite navigation system (shared with Volkswagen) on a big screen and even a powered tailgate.
The screen is a bit wasted without a reversing camera though – you get radar front and rear but no picture, which is an omission because a wagon of this size could really do with it for safety and convenience. As an aside, you can add a completely automatic parking function to the car for just $650. It’s the VW system and it’s excellent – it’ll handle both parallel and perpendicular manoeuvres.
SHOULD I BUY ONE? It’s no secret that large cars have fallen out of favour in the past few years. But if family or business needs dictate something of the Superb’s size is what you need, it offers all of the advantages of a full-sizer (presence, space) and avoids many of the disadvantages (thirst especially). It’s feeling old next to the newer Octavia, for sure. But the Superb still lives up to its name.
EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST Air conditioning: Dual climate Audio: CD, iPod compatible Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes Blind spot warning: No Bluetooth: Yes Cruise control: Yes Driver footrest: Yes Gas discharge headlights: Yes Head-up display: No Heated/ventilated seats: Yes front and rear/No Keyless entry/start: No Lane guidance: No Leather upholstery: Yes Parking radar: Front and rear Power boot or tailgate: Yes Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/Yes Rear ventilation outlets: Yes Remote audio controls: Yes Satellite navigation: Yes Seat height adjustment: Yes Self-parking technology: No Split/folding rear seats: 60/40 Steering reach adjustment: Yes Stop-start: Yes Trip computer: Yes
Find a Skoda Superb TDI 125 HERE