From £17,0757
Skoda’s economy-minded flagship is cavernous and top-value, but isn’t as fluent-riding as the rest of the range

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 Skoda 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 Skoda 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 Skoda 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.

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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

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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Flatus senex 14 November 2013

Yet another Skoda with a fidgety ride?

One of the reasons for buying a largish car without "sporting" pretentions is surely a decent ride quality.
fadyady 13 November 2013

Is this a joke?

You got to be kidding me. Such a bulbous car fitted with such a puny engine! Some could probably pedal faster, I guess. Don't want to imagine how miserable driving this would be like.
skorob 14 November 2013

It actually drives very well,

It actually drives very well, more comfortably than a Mundano or Insignificant. Take the opportunity to try before you deride. I notice it's the usual anti-VW brigade out again!
Grizzle 14 November 2013

Ive had a test drive my self,

Ive had a test drive my self, and I'm sorry its soo dull, i had an Octavia vrs spent alot of cash keeping it on the road and for a 3 year old car its a joke.
Flatus senex 14 November 2013

skorob wrote: It actually

skorob wrote:
It actually drives very well, more comfortably than a Mundano or Insignificant. Take the opportunity to try before you deride. I notice it's the usual anti-VW brigade out again!
Absolutely so and with justification! Sampling the late pattern Octavia was pure disappointment and it is equally disappointing, judging from reviews read of various models, to see the inadequacies of ride, seating and diesel engine refinement the Skoda range. Scales fall from eyes please ladies and gentlemen.
scotty5 13 November 2013

They can gift all the

They can gift all the plaudits they want on the Superb saloon/hatch - it remains one of the ugliest cars on sale. Good to see VAG finally introduce 6 speed to their economy engines but as the text implies, it's difficult to see how placing such low powered engines in such a big car is beneficial to real world economy. Would have thought the 2.0tdi more economical and at 119g/km costs hardly anything more to run.