What is it?
It’s a Skoda Superb with a mild bit of added dynamism. Well, the Superb Sport Line is primarily a regular Superb with a new trim level, bringing as it does things such as gloss black plastics, new bumpers, new seats and some carbonfibre-look trim inside, but it also includes a 15mm suspension drop, an electronic differential lock and 19in alloy wheels.
You can specify the new Sport Line on the more powerful (148bhp and up) Superb hatchbacks and estates. It will cost you around £600 more than an SE L model but almost £2000 less than a range-topping Laurin & Klement derivative.
The Superb has a fairly expansive line-up, so even when you’re only talking about variants with more than 148bhp, there are 16 different models that can be ordered with Sport Line trim. We’ve tried the fastest, which couples a 276bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with four-wheel drive and a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
What's it like?
To look at? Subtle. The Superb is a large, near five-metre-long car, so it isn’t the kind of hatchback that necessarily responds well to pimping. There’s a gloss black spoiler that's not exactly prominent and a selection of seven bold (apart from some steely grey) colours to choose from, but it doesn’t carry the same aggression as, say, an S line Audi A6.
Inside there’s some Alcantara on the sports seats, plus that carbonfibre-look trim, but otherwise this is a Superb to the core. And that’s absolutely fine: the driving position is excellent, perceived quality is high, the dials are clear and the control weights and locations perfectly set.
If the 19in alloy wheels and ride height drop bring with them a corresponding loss in ride quality, we couldn’t feel it. The Superb is the kind of car, rare among moderns, that has ride quality to spare anyway. My suspicion is that the 19s, for lower profile rubber, weigh a bit less than some of the smaller wheel and tyre combinations, which has its own advantage when it comes to ride quality.
The full-fat 276bhp Sport Line isn’t the most agile among Superbs – not once you’ve mated it to a dual-clutch auto ’box and four-wheel drive, anyway. But it is capable and secure, always maintaining more grip and traction than even this variant’s power can overwhelm. Even pulling out of greasy junctions in a hurry gives no wheelspin, and this in a car that can reach 62mph from rest in 5.8sec.
Body control and dynamics are decent. Our example came without the optional adaptive dampers we’ve tried on other Superbs, but I don’t think it was any the worse for it. No, there’s no mode to stiffen body control or slacken it off, but the standard damping set up is a fine, supple, honest, compromise. And given that the current-generation Ford Mondeo is not the ride and handling benchmark its predecessor was, the Superb doesn’t have that many rivals in its class anyway, unless you opt for something like a BMW 3 Series instead.
And nice to drive as a 3 Series is, you’ll hardly need us to point out the Skoda’s advantage over a car like that: that it’s absolutely cavernous inside. Tall adults can sit behind tall adults, no bother, and the boot’s massive, too.