What is it?
Conventional wisdom says that big saloon cars from non-premium brands are doomed to failure these days.
The Skoda Superb is the oft-cited paradoxical exception that proves the validity of that rule: an exceptional family four door bucking that trend thanks to an emphatic selling point. You get an indecent amount of space for surprisingly little outlay here.
And to butcher a well-worn phrase, if limousine-level rear cabin space and a boot bigger than an SUV’s don’t tickle your tastebuds when they’re available for less than £19,000, there’s probably something wrong with your mouth.
Launched in 2008, the big Skoda had been beginning to show its age until earlier this year, when it was in receipt of a facelift that smartened up its styling and, just as importantly, drove up the fuel efficiency of its engine range.
This new ‘Greenline III’ model is the ultimate expression of that newfound efficiency – a version of the bountifully proportioned Superb that can rival a BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics on miles-to-the-gallon, according to manufacturer’s claims.
What's it like?
In practice, you won’t get close to the Superb's posted 67mpg in day-to-day use, but our test car bettered 50mpg on a mixed route that took in very little high-speed cruising: commendable stuff from something so big.
Partnered with a six-speed gearbox in place of the five-speeder with which it’s matched in smaller VW Group cars, the 104bhp engine actually copes quite well with the Superb’s mass. There’s more than adequate performance in most scenarios. It’s close to its most refined in the Superb, too, and even under full load doesn’t kick up much of a racket.
But there are less favourable findings to report about the Superb Greenline’s rolling comfort. Something this big ought to be compliant and cosseting, but the 15mm of suspension travel that Skoda takes out in order to deliver a more aerodynamic cruise, added to the impact of the car’s low-rolling resistance tyres, leaves the ride of this car poorly resolved. Just a shade noisier and more fidgeting over a patchy surface than you’d like it to be.
Otherwise, the car’s handling is more than tidy enough, and speaks of the trouble that Volkswagen Group brands seem to habitually go to in finishing their cars. The controls are all perfectly weighted, consistent and easy to use, and make the Superb very manageable indeed.
Not a dynamic standard bearer, nor even something to take much pleasure in driving, but smooth, competent and agreeable all the same.
Should I buy one?
Buy a Skoda Superb with our resounding blessing; just think twice about making it this particular one, because the Greenline is definitely not quite everything it might have been. It’s the meanest, thinnest, sourest slice of an otherwise excellent pie.
If you don’t need the limo-like space, there are rivals that’ll return 10mpg better in the real world.
And if you do, a non-Greenline 1.6 TDI would only be cheaper and only a few mpg poorer.
Skoda Superb 1.6 TDI CR Greenline II SE
Price £21,535; 0-62mph 12.2sec; Top speed 122mph; Economy 67.3mpg; CO2 109g/km; Kerb weight 1444kg; Engine 4cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power 104bhp at 4400rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1500-2500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual