Estates go head-to-head in Autocar's twin test
15 February 2010

The Volvo V70 has been the suburban load-lugger of choice for a generation, but its supremacy is now being challenged by the Skoda Superb.

Autocar pitted the two estates against each other, to see which is better. On paper, the 175bhp 2.4d V70 and 170CR TDI Superb Estate are well matched. The Skoda is lighter but the cars are virtually the same length and they have similar power, fuel economy and 0-62mph times.

See the Skoda Superb estate versus Volvo V70 estate pictures

Volvo V70

In practice, though, they could not be more different. We have long been critical of the V70's so-so ride and lacklustre handling. And the SE-spec V70 gets sports suspension as standard, making things worse.

Sadly, Volvo has got most things wrong when tuning this car. It is plagued by a lack of precision and poorly weighted controls. The R-Design chassis is both too stiff on poor surfaces and short of body control in most other situations.

At least the distinctive five-pot engine is reasonably smooth; it has plenty of punch and feels cultured. But the chassis is prone to a surprising amount of torque steer and a touch of front-end lift under hard acceleration.

It's not all bad news, though. The V70 feels liek a premium car, especially inside, where the dashboard is a triumph of upmarket Scandanavian simplicity.

Also, there's impressive details such as an excellent heating system, a totally flat and wide load bay, folding front seat and underfloor storage in the boot.

Skoda Superb

In contrast, the Superb feels as if it has been developed purely for the great British back road. Where the V70 struggles, the Superb's handling is crisp and accurate without being overly 'sporting'.

Thanks to exceptional body control, even during brisk cornering the Skoda practically surfs across broken road edges, allowing side forces to build progressively and helping the driver to flow the car along at an impressive rate.

The engine helps here too, revving freely, more like a petrol unit. The Superb also benefits from good pedal weights and shift action. The main downside is some tyre roar on coarsely chipped surfaces.

The Skoda also has exceptional interior packaging. Rear leg room is extraordinary, and it feels extremely spacious up front thanks to the wide cabin and deep footwells.

The interior lacks the clean modernism of the Volvo, but our tester, Hilton Holloway, was more comfortable in the Skoda's cabin. It does lose out to the V70 under the tailgate, though. Seats up, the Skoda has more useable space, but its taller load bay is offset by being narrower. Worse still, teh Superb's rear seats don't fold flat, but you can retract the back of the front passenger seat until it's flat.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the Superb runs rings around the V70. The Skoda is a much more satisfying driver's car and one extraordinarily well suited to teh UK's roadscape. It also offers much more passenger room and build quality that's at least the equal of the Volvo.

The fact the Skoda is also £5500 cheaper than the similarly specified V70 seals the deal.

The full test is available in this week's Autocar magazine, on sale now.

Twitter - follow autocar.co.ukSee all the latest Skoda Superb reviews, news and videoSee all the latest Volvo V70 reviews, news and video

Our Verdict

Skoda Superb 2008-2015

The Skoda Superb offers German quality and Czech pricing, but does that add up to a great deal?

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Comments
30

15 February 2010

It'd be useful to know which models were actually tested. Sounds like the 175bhp 2.4d in the Volvo up against the 170CR TDI?

15 February 2010

Well, I knew it was going to be this way.

I've red a lot of things here about how bad or poor are Volvos and well, it doesn't surprice to me that even a Lada may be better than a Volvo on this site...

15 February 2010

Yes, it's those two motors....

15 February 2010

Does the Superb look abit like a shrunken Cayenne from the back?

15 February 2010

Well done Skoda does the car come with free green wellies and black lab then ? Definitely on my list of cars to test. Heard it has comfy seats as well as the Volvo.

15 February 2010

[quote Autocar]the Skoda's rear seats don't fold flat[/quote]

Unbelievable! Can the world just sack all its car designers now and get some new ones.

15 February 2010

I tested the Skoda Superb saloon a couple of weeks ago and I can say that it's really good car. Much better than I thought before that test drive. I.m not a vw's car lover ( and of course the confirmation of that you can find in my avatar :D ) but I would buy the Superb rather than this Volvo ,,,

15 February 2010

[quote Autocar]In practice, though, they could not be more different. We have long been critical of the V70's so-so ride and lacklustre handling. And the SE-spec V70 gets sports suspension as standard, making things worse.[/quote]

sports suspension triumphs again

15 February 2010

[quote ThwartedEfforts]sports suspension triumphs again[/quote] Could not agree more. Designers, please don't fit sports suspension to MPV's, Family Cars or Luxury Saloons. Fit it to sports cars. A family car that handles like an Elise may occasionally be fun for the driver, but it's no fun for the passengers. Give me tall tyres, soft springs, a comfortable ride and less road noise.

 

15 February 2010

Are VW brave enough to allow a Passat to be tested against the Superb?!

Yes Volvo sports handling isn't the best in the world... one day they'll get it right!

Rear seats not folding flat is actually quite a downer on a large estate car... certainly it would put me off of it (I'm probably in a minority of people who actually use the whole boot of an estate frequently, ranging from carrying stuff in it to sleeping in the boot when I'm too lazy to put a tent up.

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