First Drive: Skoda Superb
Sector: Upper-medium Price (June 2013): £18,555-£32,260 Fuel: 30.4-67.3mpg CO2: 109-217g/km
According to Skoda, the Superb has been an integral part of the company’s success story in UK, alongside Fabia and Octavia. And you’d be forgiven for not noticing. Awareness of the Superb is oddly low compared to similarly sized cars from the Volkswagen stable. Perhaps the reason for this is that it is fairly inconspicuous, something the midterm facelift may struggle to rectify.
But that’s assuming it needs rectifying. Skoda has sold over 557,000 Superbs since its 2008 launch so there must be enough people for whom the oxymoron of an understated executive car fits the bill.
With that said, the first thing you notice about this revamped Superb is that it has benefited from the cosmetic overhaul and now follows the same styling cues as the rest of the Skoda range, and looks better for it but the changes are more incremental than radical. From the A-pillars forward, then, it’s been given a smarter front-end with much cleaner lines, a new set of headlights and a different grille. The back-end has also been tweaked, with a redesigned light cluster that now includes LEDs.
The hatchback’s two-stage opening operation has also been simplified, using two control buttons as opposed to the old, fiddly one-button set up.
Inside, it still offers acres of legroom, especially for those sitting in the back, while the estate remains the largest load-lugger in its sector. Cruise control, Bluetooth and a multi-function steering wheel are now standard fit, irrespective of trim level. These revisions seem minimal but they do keep it in-step with its contemporaries.
What’s gone on underneath this revised Superb is also modest but effective. The engine line-up is unchanged, comprising three petrol and three diesel units. Stop/Start is now fitted to all diesels and the 123bhp 1.4TSI petrol, while Energy Recovery is standard on all except the 256bhp 3.6-litre V6.
There are also the same four trim levels to choose from as before; the S, SE, Elegance and the top-spec Laurin & Klement. The 1.6 TDI is only available on the basic trim, although the Greenline lll version of the same engine, which emits just 109g/km, is available in the S, SE and Elegance – though, with a full a load, don’t expect to get anywhere in hurry with this engine.
The biggest seller is expected to be a combination of the hatchback, powered by the 2.0 TDI 168bhp, in the Elegance trim, mated to the standard 6-speed manual, costing £25,640. This diesel engine is really impressive on the road, where the broad spread of power and smooth delivery makes it feel really eager. It’s remarkably refined, too, with the ability to deliver an exciting driving experience while still returning an average impressive 61.4mpg, with CO2 emissions of 120g/km. It’s no slouch either.
This efficiency also makes it one of the cheapest choices for company users. On top of that, there’s a great value fixed-price servicing plan and strong residual values. Combine this with sharp driving dynamics and decent practicability, and the Superb continues to make a strong case for itself at the top of its class.
Extra equipment, improved economy and sharper new styling add appeal to what is already a high-value, attractive and very practical fleet car.