What is it?
It’s a car without a twin-door rear hatch. That’s the first thing to tell you about the new Skoda Superb, driven here, early and disguised (the car, not I), prior to going on sale next Autumn.
So to the old model’s trademark dual tailgate, whose metal part raised like a saloon’s or whose whole raised as a hatch, is no more. Skoda’s strapline is Simply Clever. The boot was clever. But it wasn’t simple – or particularly light.
It matters because its departure means the new Superb can look far more stylish than before. You can’t see that yet, owing to the camouflage. Sorry about that.
It’ll be shown in public in February, so until then you’ll have to take my word for it that ditching that dual-opening boot and adopting a conventional hatch instead really does matter. The twin-door set-upnecessitated a long boot lip, and because the rear cabin had the generous headroom beloved of private hire companies, the rear window was as a result blunt and bulbous, making the rear ungainly.
A hatch means you can have both cabin space and a coupé-ish swoop to the rear. Airport minicabbers rejoice, then: the Superb looks much better kerbside yet is even more spacious than before, thanks to 80mm going into the wheelbase and the boot getting even bigger, now swollen to 625 litres behind the rear seats.
A shorter front overhang means overall length is only up by 20mm, while an extra 50mm of width adds visual purpose.
Torsional rigidty is up by 12 per cent and the use of high-strength steels by a more significant 45 per cent, yet weight is down by an average of 75kg across the range, because underneath is VW’s MQB platform, as on the latest Volkswagen Golf and Passat.
Interesting comparison, the Passat. It, too, is just-new, but the Volkswagen Group has decided that these two are no longer competitors. It thinks the Passat is a compact-executive car and has left it to the Superb to give the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia a hard time.
Skoda is confident it’ll do the job, and so am I.