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Stalwart executive car and load-lugger sticks with successful convention for its fourth generation

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In a decidedly old-school format, the latest Skoda Superb follows the theme set by its predecessors.

Available in both estate and hatchback format, the Superb has plenty of equipment, is cavernous inside and offers a range of pure-combustion, mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. Including a diesel, even. Crikey.

The estate version has typically been received well in the UK, which is among the biggest markets. But Skoda is clear that the hatch version still has a place in its line-up, with fleets being its main customer base, taking up 85% of sales. 

Skoda is hoping that the continuation of the hatch will draw in former lovers of the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Volvo S90 now that all of these models are no longer sold in Europe. Even Volkswagen has ditched the Passat saloon, a car once viewed as the king of the business park. 

“That gives us the opportunity to fill the gap for customers looking for a traditional offering,” says Tatiana Cizmar, from Skoda’s product marketing team. She says they want “roominess, practicality, usability, a good range of equipment". I mean, that does sound quite straightforwardly compelling. 

So is the Superb now the leader in the mid-size B-segment class? Let's find out. 

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DESIGN & STYLING

skoda superb hatch review 2024 02 side panning

The Mk4 Superb (if you don’t count the one they made in 1934) is built, like the latest Volkswagen Passat Estate, on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB Evo platform and has grown a little over its predecessor. 

The estate is 40mm longer than before, at 4902mm, but pleasingly 15mm narrower, at 1849mm across the body. Hallelujah. Height is up only 5mm, so it will have a slightly smaller frontal area than before and, with the drag coefficient down from 0.30Cd to 0.25Cd, Skoda reckons it’s up to 15% more efficient than before.

Meanwhile, the hatch is 43mm longer, 59mm wider and 12mm taller than before. This is to create more room inside and increase boot capacity. It's likewise more aerodynamic, too, at 0.23Cd.

In the UK, the Superb offers a a 1.5-litre petrol (mild hybrid) with 148bhp, a 2.0-litre diesel with 148bhp, a 2.0-litre diesel with 190bhp and four-wheel drive and a 1.5-litre plug-in hybrid with 204bhp and an official electric-only range of 62 miles.

A 201bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 262bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine are set to join the line-up later this year, with the latter offered in four-wheel drive only.

INTERIOR

skoda superb hatch review 2024 04 dash

Inside? Well, let’s start with the rear, because a voluminous boot has always been front and centre of the Superb Estate's appeal, and that’s no different this time. Luggage capacity with seats in place is 690 litres, up 30 litres from before.

There's a storage cubby to the left, latches by the tailgate to drop the rear seats, luggage hooks, Velcro barriers to secure loads from sliding around and even now an electric load-bay cover.

If you want the best estate boot in the business, there’s a strong chance that this is it.

The hatchback impresses for boot space too, and it's better than its predecessor, with 645 litres of room available. That’s significantly more than in the Peugeot 508 hatch, which offers only up to 487 litres. 

There's room for large suitcases and golf clubs and you get the same storage compartments as the estate. Higher-spec models also get a multipurpose storage pocket. 

It’s a shame the hatch's loading lip is so big and there’s no height-adjustable boot floor like you get in the estate. Still, the wide aperture of the boot makes lifting luggage inside a bit easier. 

If you opt for a PHEV estate, you get 80 litres less capacity, due to the drive battery raising the load floor. 

There's credibility to Skoda’s claims of more rear cabin space, too, which will be important to buyers who will regularly be carrying passengers. Those rear seats offer large amounts of leg room and head room is good. 

This takes us up to the front seats: also spacious, comfortable, with a roomy and straight driving position.

The business end of the cabin is mostly successful. “We have closely listened to our customers and brought haptic controls back,” says Johannes Neft, Skoda’s technical development chief. Sometimes it feels like listening to customers is a novelty. 

So, as well as a large, 13in landscape-oriented touchscreen in the dashboard's centre, there are three multi-function rotary dials with inbuilt screens, plus some supplementary buttons beneath.

You can preset what the dials do, then give them a push to change the function, then rotate them to change the settings. Adjusting the temperature or driving mode, for example, is a doddle, especially on the move. 

The round, broadly adjustable steering wheel has real buttons too, plus two pushable scroll wheels. (A press of one button brings up the driver assistance systems and the scroll wheel pings them off.) 

The gear selector has been moved to the right-hand stalk to free up space on the centre tunnel, so the left handles indicators and wipers. There’s a separate light-switch panel. Mirrors and even each individual window get actual buttons. Yes, we shouldn’t have to say this, but here we are.

If Skoda has been less successful, it’s in the feel of some of the interior materials. All look good and most feel solid – stuff you touch regularly, like the doors, particularly. But those rotary dials feel a bit flimsy, and if you push some places on the dash, it will creak and move a bit, not unlike in a modern Mercedes-Benz (likewise more about show than solidity). It's not a big deal, but it feels worth mentioning, because it’s unusual.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

skoda superb hatch review 2024 10 front tracking

We’ve sampled a number of engines in both the estate and hatch. The 1.5-litre petrol impressed for being quiet and reasonably responsive. It drives through a smooth seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. 

There’s no manual optional available on the Superb, unlike on the smaller Octavia. 

The 1.5 isn’t fast or accelerative like an EV (0-62mph is 9.3sec) and in its regular driving mode is reluctant to kick down (hence it gets a reasonable 47.9-53.3mpg on the combined WLTP cycle), but you can take control via steering wheel-mounted paddles if you like. 

The lower-powered 2.0 diesel is on paper is marginally more economical, at 52.3-57.6mpg. It’s grumblier at low speeds, of course, and drives less smoothly through the same DSG transmission.

In a world of electric assistance or near-silent small petrol engines, it does feel a bit clunky. But it quietens right down to inaudible on a motorway, spinning at around 1500rpm at a cruise, and there’s something to be said for glancing down and seeing that you have 500 miles of range remaining.

The 262bhp 2.0 petrol feels quick, with the four-wheel-drive layout adding another layer of handling composure to the Superb’s agreeable ride and handling. 

Our time in the iV PHEV was short, just a few miles, and not that sweet, because it was around town. It’s very happy to remain in electric-only mode where it’s smooth (of course), but we doubt you’ll see 62 miles out of its 25.7kWh battery (which can accept charging rates of up to 50kW). In the right regular commuter case, it could be just the choice.

RIDE & HANDLING

skoda superb hatch review 2024 11 rear tracking

Whatever engine option you pick, the Superb drives similarly. There are nuances about how well the various versions steer and their agility based on engine weights, of course. 

The petrol is the lightest, deftest and most pleasing to drive and therefore, this being an enthusiast’s publication, would be our choice. But whatever you pick, be it in estate or hathback form, you will get a car that’s refined, inflicts very little wind noise on you and rides well too. Higher-spec cars (and that’s all we’ve been exposed to) have adaptive dampers.

They’re widely adjustable but, from their presets, we found the Comfort option suited the car best. With the dampers eased back, you hear some bumps but don’t feel them, the car being absorbent and easy-going, relaxed and stable. 

The steering is generally light, and while it's not brimming with feel, there is some weight to it at higher speeds. It's consistent, with a relaxed, oily slickness and good straight-ahead stability.

With the diesel, in particular, wound up to motorway cruising speeds, you could eat motorways like they weren’t even there.

VERDICT

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9768 SuperbEstate

The new Superb is an excellent all-rounder, and considering it's available in two different body styles, it will appeal to families and sales executives alike. 

The estate is relaxed, has a voluminous boot and gets all the kit you could want and goes a long way with minimal fuss. It will likely be the big-seller in the UK. 

But with excellent space and comfort, the hatch should strike a chord with those looking for a well-priced, conventional executive option. 

If you can bear what almost feels like a slur of wanting a 'traditional' offering, we don’t think anybody today does it better.

Sam Phillips

Sam Phillips
Title: Staff Writer

Sam has been part of the Autocar team since 2021 and is often tasked with writing new car stories and more recently conducting first drive reviews.

Most of his time is spent leading sister-title Move Electric, which covers the entire spectrum of electric vehicles, from cars to boats – and even trucks. He is an expert in electric cars, new car news, microbility and classic cars. 

Sam graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2021 with a BA in Journalism. In his final year he produced an in-depth feature on the automotive industry’s transition to electric cars and interviewed a number of leading experts to assess our readiness for the impending ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes.