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Skoda Superb review (2013 onwards)
Skoda Superb: summary
Plenty of space, a refined ride, smooth engines and decent prices make the facelifted Skoda Superb the Mercedes-S-Class for the man on a budget.
What: Skoda Superb
Where: Vienna, Austria
Date: May 2013
Price: £18,555 - £32,455
Available: On sale July 2013
Key rivals: Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia, Volkswagen Passat
We like: practicality, space, pricing, new looks
We don’t like: not too exciting to drive, staid image
Skoda Superb: first impressions
Every car manufacturer has a top dog in its line-up; a ‘halo’ model. For Skoda it’s the Superb, and for 2013 the Czech brand has given its flagship a mid-life refresh.
no nasty vibrations or obtrusive clattery sounds are transferred to the cabin
Now, there’s a new front end and an update to the rear end styling to match. The design alterations have worked, too, creating a much tauter, more positive looking vehicle than the downturned first generation of the huge hatchback and estate.
Apart from the addition of some flashy LEDs, there are more efficient versions of the VW group’s two- and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, with headline fuel economy improvements of up to 19%.
The good thing is Skoda has focused on what makes the Superb, well, superb: practicality. Boot space is still as good as ever, as is room inside the cabin, and with more equipment on offer and an updated interior to match the outside, it’s still a solid proposition – even in a market that’s losing ground to the onslaught of new crossovers and 4x4s.
Skoda Superb: performance
We sampled Skoda’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel and 1.4-litre TSI turbocharged petrol engine, both mated to a manual six-speed transmission. And both were impressive.
With 140hp on tap the diesel is potent enough to whisk along the Superb’s near 1,500kg of mass – it’s a very linear engine, which deceives you into thinking it’s lacking torque. It isn’t. It’s just well refined.
the Superb soaks up bumps with aplomb
You can rev it and rev it and still no nasty vibrations or obtrusive clattery sounds are transferred to the cabin, and mated to a manual ‘box with a light and smooth shift action, the powertrain is pleasant to use.
However, it wasn’t the biggest surprise we found in the updated Superb. We expected the 125hp turbocharged petrol engine to feel gutless in a car this size – it doesn’t.
The blown engine produces a useful 147lb ft of torque between 1,500 and 4,000rpm. The downsized turbo motor lugs hard in the mid range and gives the impression of a much larger capacity unit – and just like the diesel, it’s well isolated from the passenger compartment, even if it is a bit noisier.
On the whole, both engines felt slick and well integrated – like you could spend miles behind the wheel without them getting on your nerves. Exactly what you’d want in a car of this ilk.
Skoda Superb: ride and handling
The Superb soaks up bumps with aplomb, with only really harsh tears in the Tarmac upsetting the chassis at cruising speed. Allied to the decent refinement, blocking out harsh wind noise and tyre roar at speed, it makes for a relaxed, comfortable vehicle to drive or be a passenger in.
At over 4.8 metres long, it’s a big car though. Start to push it outside of its comfort window and the Superb’s sheer dimensions begin to show.
boot space is still cavernous
It makes a good fist of changing direction for its size – helped by steering that is surprisingly accurate for a car this big, if not bristling with feedback as to what the front tyres are doing.
No matter really as the default balance is to lapse into understeer, even at moderate speeds. At least it’s safe and predictable, with the stability systems reigning in any unruly antics from the chassis early and without fuss.
It’s still rewarding to punt along at a slightly elevated pace though, and will deliver what you ask of it in most situations. But it’s real strengths lie in carrying plenty of people and luggage long distances in total comfort.
Skoda Superb: interior
Inside, Skoda has introduced some new fabrics and patterns for the interior of the facelifted Superb. It’s a smart place to sit, with a typical air of Skoda solidity and quality, even if no real flamboyant design details catch your eye.
Skoda has maximised efficiency of the Superb’s engine range
The main thing is it’s still as practical as ever. There’s plenty of room in the rear and now you can even adjust the front passenger seat electrically from the back of the cabin to give you more legroom when being driven.
Boot space is still cavernous at 595 litres for the hatch and 633 litres for the estate – both best in class offerings, according to Skoda. This rises to 1,700 litres and 1,865 litres respectively with the seats folded.
How you open the boot is clever, too. On the hatch you can either expose the full rear section, or, you can simply open the boot ‘lid’ so the Superb acts like a saloon. Handy, depending on what you’re trying to load.
Skoda Superb: economy and safety
Skoda has maximised efficiency of the Superb’s engine range – up by 19% in some cases. The most efficient motor on offer is the 105hp 1.6-litre TDI GreenLine III, which will return 67.3mpg combined with 109g/km CO2 emissions.
The more powerful 140hp 2.0 TDI returns 61.4mpg combined while emitting 119g/km CO2, teaming decent performance with strong environmental credentials. The 1.4 TSI will return 47.9mpg with 138g/km CO2.
No structural changes have been made to the updated Superb, meaning it retains the original car’s five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating. That comes courtesy of a number of electronic assistance systems – some standard and some optional – with up to nine airbags available, too.
Skoda Superb: the MSN Cars verdict
The facelifted Skoda Superb is – avoiding the obvious pun – a brilliant car. Skoda has kept the car’s strong suits, including its practicality, comfort and refinement, while improving the looks and efficiency of the range of engines on offer. Starting from £18,555, it’s something of a bargain, too.
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