What is it?
The third-generation Skoda Superb in Estate form. It’s an all-new version of the Czech manufacturer’s flagship car which aims to offer improved comfort and refinement and lower running costs than its predecessor.
Immediately apparent is the new Superb’s sleeker design. Taking inspiration from the firm’s VisionC concept car, it features a large honeycomb grille and more aggressive-looking headlights, which, along with the radiator, are positioned closer to the road compared with the previous model.
The new Superb adopts the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform and is up to 75kg lighter than the outgoing model, despite having grown 23mm longer and 47mm wider and having an 80mm longer wheelbase in this estate guise.
Skoda has armed the Superb with seven engine options – four petrols and three diesels – from launch. With the exception of the 123bhp 1.4 TSI motor, every engine can be paired with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
The engines range in power output from the entry-level 118bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel unit up to the range-topping 276bhp 2.0-litre TSI petrol that replaces the outgoing model’s 3.6-litre normally aspirated V6 as the flagship petrol engine.
Five trim levels are available on the Superb: S, SE, SE Business, SE L Executive and the flagship Laurin & Klement. We’re testing the 118bhp 1.6 TDI SE variant mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
What’s it like?
Despite being the entry point into oil-burning Superb ownership, this 1.6-litre diesel motor is both surprisingly refined and a decent performer – considering its cubic capacity.
On cold start-up there’s minimal vibration through the foot pedals and the cabin. There’s still a gruffness to the engine note below 1400rpm when pulling away but it’s no louder than its rivals under the same conditions.
Getting up to speed is no issue in this Superb; keep the engine spinning between 1400rpm and 3000rpm and it’s possible to make adequately decent progress in an estate car that tips the scales at a not inconsiderable 1485kg.
It doesn’t feel particularly brisk when riding the torque band, but there’s enough poke to get comfortably up to a national speed limit cruise and stay there, with the needle registering just shy of 1900rpm in sixth.
However, when faced with slow-moving motorhomes and the like you really do need to plan an extra 100 yards or so in advance before darting out for an overtake. It’s something you probably wouldn’t give a second thought to in this car’s 148bhp 2.0 TDI bigger brother.
The six-speed manual gearbox is as you’d expect from a Volkswagen Group product, which means you get a shift with relatively short throw that’s well weighted and precise. It’s the type of gearshift that works with you when slotting home each ratio.
Pushing the Skoda into a bend does reveal some considerable body lean and the car’s size does make itself known, but there’s ample grip. Wheels are 17in alloys as standard on this variant.
The steering, while being fairly light in feel, is precise and consistent. It’s engaging enough to encourage a bit of confidence, albeit not quite in the same league as that of a Ford Mondeo.
On a fast, flowing A-road with deep undulations the Superb takes a fraction longer to settle than you might expect. It’s not as planted as, say, a BMW 3 Series Touring, but it’s not what you’d call ruffled by any means.
The previous-generation Superb was vast inside, but this new model takes cabin space up a notch. Boot space for the estate has been increased by 85 litres over the outgoing model to 1950 litres with the seats down. In their upright position there’s a 660-litre boot space, which is even more than you get in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate.
Skoda’s tagline for the Superb is ‘Simply Clever’, and you can’t help but think it’s bang-on when it comes to the interior. There’s more than enough head and leg room whether you’re sitting in the front or the rear, to the point where this 5ft 9in tester could relax on the back seat nearly fully stretched out.
SE trim comes generously equipped with dual-zone air-con, Bluetooth, a multifunction steering wheel, a 5.0in touchscreen infotainment system, DAB radio, rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control all standard. And it’s paired with the high perceived quality of the materials and switchgear we’ve come to expect from Skoda.
Should I buy one?
Given the amount of cabin space and kit on offer, it’s hard not to recommend one.
The only fly in this Superb’s ointment is its powertrain. In 1.6 TDI guise, you have to keep it spinning in its sweet spot and work the gearbox just that little bit more often than you might in the 2.0 TDI-engined model.
Its more powerful sibling in SE trim returns marginally better fuel economy on a combined cycle (68.9mpg), is much more flexible and quicker, and all for just £500 more at £23,290.
Ford’s Mondeo estate offers a more involving drive, but the Superb trumps it when it comes to cabin space and ambience.
Skoda Superb Estate 1.6 TDI SE
Location Scotland; On sale September; Price £22,790; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power 118bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1500-3250rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1485kg; Top speed 127mph; 0-62mph 11.0sec; Economy 67.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 109g/km, 19%
What is it?