From £19,1408
The Superb never had a problem with space but for 2015 it gets even more. It's also lighter, cleaner, more frugal and better equipped.
30 April 2015

What is it?

The Superb is a car with a confusing brochure. Flicking through the dimensions and equipment pages convinces you you're dealing with a large executive. However, turn to the price list and the numbers don't stack up, because Skoda is adamant it can sell you one for family car money.

The previous Superb's trademark feature was its segment-defying rear legroom. Amazingly, the new model is wider than before, as well as longer with a longer wheelbase. Despite this, its more advanced MQB platform means it's a considerable 75kg lighter, too.

This recipe of big space for small outlay has seen more than 42,000 people sign up for a Superb in the UK since 2002; not a volume seller but an important one nonetheless. An estate is on the way, along with an ultra clean and frugal GreenLine model. Here, though, we drive the hatch in best-selling diesel manual flavour. 

Its competitive pricing and big cabin give the Superb a wide spectrum of fleet-biased rivals, but it's ultimately the likes of Ford's Mondeo, Volkswagen's Passat and BMW's 3 Series that Skoda will want its new Superb to be elbowing out of the way. 

What's it like?

Good to drive but not great. This 2.0-litre diesel feels no less punchy than it does in the lighter Octavia, being committed from as low as 1400rpm and properly together by 1800. Revving it out reveals a usefully wide band of torque, too, with no steps in the power delivery.

Our car was fitted with Skoda's six-speed, twin-clutch automatic which continues to frustrate in the same areas as almost all other applications. It dithers from standstill and lags on some manual down changes. Left to its own devices, though, the changes are generally quick and smooth on the move.

It's a hushed engine at idle, this 2.0-litre, and settles down quickly on the motorway in sixth gear. Push hard, however, and it starts to get vocal in the cabin and send back some vibration at the pedals. That said, it's no worse than a Passat or 3 Series-equivalent diesel.

Versions with adaptive dampers, such as our 18in-wheeled test car, have three modes - Normal, Comfort and Sport. While the Superb's steering is always vague, Sport gives it some weight and inspires more confidence in exploring what are actually fairly high levels of grip, as well as stiffening the dampers and keeping the body on its best behaviour.

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Make no mistake, though - while the Superb's front end isn't entirely without urgency, this is no Mondeo and certainly no 3 Series in the handling department.

The Superb's ride hinders its mid-corner composure, too. In Normal and Comfort modes, initial contact with bumps is less abrupt but there's too much vertical body movement. Stiffen things up with Sport and undulating roads are better tamed, but sharp edged imperfections are more prominent in the cabin. Again, a standard Mondeo or an adaptive damper-equipped 3 Series or Passat are far more accomplished here.

None of these rivals can match the Superb for space, though. Four tall adults enjoy executive levels of head- and legroom, while three adults can be comfortably accommodated across the rear seats. 

These same seats can be split 60/40 and folded down using standard boot wall levers. The result is a long square space, even if there's a pronounced boot lip to lift heavy bags over and a step-up in the boot floor caused by the rear seatbacks. With the rear seats returned to their upright position, boot space is an impressive 625 litres for 2015 - markedly more than all of the car's rivals.

Our Laurin and Klement model's cabin looked and felt suitably well built and classy. Soft, dense plastics are to be found on the dash and door cards. There are areas of stitched leather, too. From SE trim and upwards, the Superb now comes with two umbrellas, one in each front door - a nice touch. Ultimately, it's not a BMW 3 Series inside but the Superb is verging on Passat territory and is some way clear of a Ford Mondeo.

Its infotainment system is better than a Mondeo's, too, and is the same basic system as found in VW's Passat. Our car had the biggest 8.0-in touchscreen which was bright, responsive and easy to navigate. BMW's even more intuitive iDrive system continues to lead the way, however.

All Superbs come with 16in alloy wheels, a leather multi-function steering wheel, air-con, Bluetooth, DAB radio, city braking technology and a 5.0in touch-screen infotainment system. SE models add bigger alloys, lumbar support, rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control.

It makes more sense to buy SE business, though, as it gets more kit than SE but for the same money. It adds Alcantara seats, climate control, front and rear parking sensors, and electronic parking brake and Skoda's larger 6.5in touchscreen with built-in sat-nav.

The more expensive SE L Executive, and Larin and Klement trims, don't make much financial sense but add luxuries such as bi-xenon headlights, an electronic tailgate, leather heated seats, keyless entry and the even larger 8.0-in touchscreen system.

Should I buy one?

If you put value first, yes you should - although not as this range-topping L&K model. In more sensible trims the Superb is considerably more spacious and practical than its nearest rivals, is better equipped and competitively clean and frugal. That's good news for both private and company buyers alike.

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However, if you put driving pleasure first, probably not. A Mondeo and 3 Series are both more fun, and both manage to be more comfortable at the same time. VAG group has made sure its more expensive Passat feels it inside, too.

The final verdict will have to wait until we've sampled a smaller wheeled Superb with the standard chassis on UK roads but should its ride improve, then we'll have a very well-rounded car on our hands. 

Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI 150 Laurin and Klement DSG

Price £30,140; Engine 4 cyls, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power 148bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 251lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1500kg; Top speed 135mph; 0-62mph 8.9sec; Economy 68.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 109g/km, 19%

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Comments
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skorob 30 April 2015

gorgeous

I'd take the Superb over the Jag anyday. This looks great. And it starts under £19k. No brainer.
scrap 29 April 2015

I hope they drop the Golf R

I hope they drop the Golf R drivetrain straight into this, with the brown leather seats and staid exterior. Could be a real gem.
michael knight 28 April 2015

Whoa there

Can't believe people are comparing this to the Jag. Sure, for real-estate it's hard to beat, but then a Ssangyong Rodius will have both of them licked. This is not a premium car; it's a well-crafted Passat. And it's £30K for a 4cyl diesel. Madness.
abkq 29 April 2015

michael knight wrote:Can't

michael knight wrote:

Can't believe people are comparing this to the Jag. Sure, for real-estate it's hard to beat, but then a Ssangyong Rodius will have both of them licked. This is not a premium car; it's a well-crafted Passat. And it's £30K for a 4cyl diesel. Madness.

What then distinguishes a premium car from a non-premium one beyond the badge?

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