What is it?
The new Skoda Superb is pitched directly against the new Ford Mondeo, Renault Laguna, Honda Accord, Citroen C5 and, the new Vauxhall Insignia. Not so long ago the so-called family-car class accounted for a quarter of all European cars. Now it seems to have stabilised at around 15 percent, but that’s still well over a million car sales a year across Europe.
The new Superb combines suspension and floorpan parts from the VW Passat and Skoda Octavia. It’s 35mm longer than its generously proportioned predecessor, but 42mm shorter in wheelbase because the engine now follows the Passat’s transverse layout. Despite the shorter wheelbase rear kneeroom is now 19mm longer and unrivalled in its class.
What’s it like?
Six engines are offered in the new Skoda Superb, mostly familiar from the VW Group range. The highlights are a sweet and frugal 1.4-litre petrol turbo producing 125bhp, and the car tested here, the new 2.0-litre, common-rail 172bhp turbodiesel (available either with six-speed manual or six-speed twin-clutch paddle-shift).
This is Skoda’s first common-rail diesel, adopted because it’s quieter, and meets forthcoming Euro 5 emissions standards better than other VW-sourced engines. Some of the less powerful engines can be had with a new seven-speed DSG, but it has a limited torque capacity. There’s also an Octavia-style 4x4 system available that uses a Haldex clutch to send torque to the rear axle depending on traction available.
The Superb looks a little awkward from some angles, but it is an impressive all-rounder. Three spec levels will be offered in the UK (S, SE and Elegance) and we’ll get all of the engine options, though local dealers expect the 140bhp and 172 bhp 2.0 litre diesels to do most of the business. Prices will start slightly north of £15,000, and spread to about £25,000 for a full-spec 3.6-litre, 260 bhp V6 Elegance.
On the road, the car feels big but shrinks around you. It has a general Audi-VW air of quality and solidity (Skoda believe their standards are every bit as good as the others) but there is a pleasantly independent quality to the interior design, which has a considerably deeper equipment spec than other family members.