Read exclusive details on Skoda's brand new Mondeo-fighter, out in 2008
1 November 2007

Skoda is set to storm the upmarket family car sector with the all-new Superb hatchback. The new Czech flagship won't go on sale until after its public unveiling at the Geneva motor show in February 2008, but Autocar has already driven it - and you can read associate ed Hilton Holloway's impressions of it, straight from the Nevada desert, by clicking here.

Positioning the new Superb

Skoda insiders have confirmed that the new Superb – masterminded by the engineer behind the VW Phaeton - is targeted directly at the new Ford Mondeo.Autocar can also reveal that the Czech car-maker is poised to make life hard for Volvo and the upper echelons of the estate car market when it launches a huge wagon version of the new Superb about 12 months after the hatchback. The new Superb goes on sale in the UK in September next year. With prices likely to range between £15,000 and £23,000, Skoda is planning for a massive boost in Superb volumes compared to the outgoing model, which averaged about 20,000 sales per year. Company sources remained tight-lipped, but it’s expected the new car will see at least a 300 percent increase in production [eg, 60,000 per annum, at least].

Bigger and more versatile

The Superb is loosely based on the same architecture as the VW Passat, and is currently in its final stages of testing around the globe, including late modifications to refinement in Death Valley, California. Despite the notchback appearance, the Superb gets a new, versatile hatchback layout, making it much more competitive in the large family car sector than the old model. According to engineering boss Dr Ekhart Scholz, the new Superb is ‘bigger in all dimensions’ than the outgoing Audi A6-based Superb. The entry-level engine is likely to be the 138bhp 1.4-litre TSI unit first seen in the Golf. 158bhp and 200bhp 1.8-litre TSI units will make up the rest of the Superb petrol range.Diesel engines will be switching to a more refined common rail injection system, and the range-topping motors are likely to be V6 petrol and diesel units with the option of four wheel drive. Most models will be equipped with a six-speed manual box, with a DSG autobox on the options list.A high-performance 3.6-litre V6 4x4 VRS Superb, with just shy of 300bhp, is already understood to be on test.A new touch-screen infotainment system incorporates both a hard drive and a slot for SD memory cards, both making mass music storage remarkably simple and, probably, killing off the in-car iPod.The Superb is also the first car in the VW Group to get the option of adjustable headlamps. The set-up uses the foglamps to illuminate the road during cornering and has swivelling main beam Xenon units that adjust the spread of light, depending on the car’s speed.

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Superb-based SUV and MPV planned

Skoda’s designers and engineers are also focusing on entering new market niches, including a possible full-size MPV rival for the Ford Galaxy and a bigger SUV to compliment the 2009 Yeti, for launch after the turn of the decade. Like the Roomster, however, these vehicles would have to be distinctively different to other VW Group offerings, and would likely use a mix of different chassis modules.

Hilton Holloway

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