From £17,075
Not as dynamic as the Mondeo, but comfort levels are class-leading
Steve Cropley Autocar
12 May 2008

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.


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All cars get nine airbags, and some models offer a unique adaptive headlight system (AFS) that changes the shape of the forward beam according to conditions (city, highway or bad weather).

The car has light, accurate controls, but lacks the agility or steering accuracy of the standard-setting Mondeo. But its forte is comfort: road and wind noise are kept low even at a 100mph cruise, and the 172bhp diesel is inaudible (though it does contribute a remarkably sporty sound when accelerating 0-62 mph in a highly impressive 8.8 seconds.)

The Skoda Superb’s best feature is its ride quality, well worthy of the name. Czech roads are very like Britain’s: bitumen potholes, lots of strangely varying cambers and rough railway crossings. The big Skoda soaks them all up with quietness and ease not always replicated in stiffer-legged Audis and BMWs.

Should I buy one?

Equipment levels are impressive compared to its competitors. If handling is a priority then remember that the new Superb hasn’t knocked the Ford Mondeo off its perch. But if it’s comfort you’re after then make your way to the nearest Skoda dealer in September.

Join the debate


12 May 2008

Your imprecision on stating power figures is annoying.

New VW sourced 2.0 TDI engine:

Steve Cropley - "173 bhp"

Autocar(anon, above) - "172 bhp"

VW(official - it is their engine) - 170 PS(125 KW, 167.67 hp) (1 PS = 0.98632 hp)

Almost 6hp is significant, but it's the accuracy point that's most important.

- of course, S Cropley and Autocar maybe right, assuming Skoda have independently engineered an increase in the power output of their stock, brand-new VW-sourced engine, or perhaps the air is denser in Mladá Boleslav than Wolfsburg!

12 May 2008

Curious - you quote the weight as only 1498 kg and yet I thought this was a huge car, bigger than the new Citroen C5 VTR which lards in at 1729 kg according to your figures. Perhaps the Skoda gives a good superficial impression of quality but is missing a lot of steel somewhere? especially as its so loaded with equipment too.

12 May 2008

I've seen the weight of the C5 quoted as around 1500kg elsewhere.

This looks like a lot of car, both figuratively and literally, for £15k. It's a funny-looking thing though, almost stretched-looking.

12 May 2008

This looks like the last Rover-MG saloon that rolled out of the Midlands factory while Pheonix executives lined their pockets, sorry, lined their pension schemes before its destruction, sorry, demise under their p*ss poor management.

I remember Steve Cropley wrote "what a hard job" they had (BMW gave them a Half £Billion Golden handshake!) and how the Pheonix Frauds, sorry, Four had done "as good a job as possible" - cue sick bags!

My advise to Skoda is drop your pants and discount, discount, discount if you want to sell this dull sofa on wheels coz Rover actually did the design much better 15yrs ago.

12 May 2008

Looks like the 9-5 - thats not a compliment.

Why has Steve even mentioned BMW and Audi in his report, surely target for this car is the french fodder andf Koreans...

13 May 2008

[quote Autocar]

comfort levels are class-leading


Better than the new C5? Seriously?

14 May 2008

It sounds to me like you guys are very worried about Skoda yet again producing a car near or actually at the top of it’s group. They consistently clean up or sit near the top in JD Power awards and have build quality that humbles many of it’s so called competitors. And before anyone says I am a Skoda owner, I should add I own a 123D BMW. More power to Skoda’s elbow I say.

14 May 2008

Interesting design, looks like Skoda may have another hit on their hands, particularly at these prices. I wonder how soon it will be before the cheaper versions will arrive in the local mini-cab/get-to-airport fleets ? I think I'd also worry a bit about that strange tailgate/boot-lid arrangement and the reliability/durability of it after a few years of continuous daily wear and tear.

15 May 2008

I'm sure it's going to be reliable going by past Skoda efforts - they continually win awards for best Customer Satisfaction, beating the likes of BMW, Volkswagen and even Lexus sometimes! I think they've got another winner on their hands, too. It has a sort of quirkiness about it, and it definitely looks solid and durable. I love the umbrella holders in the doors, and the Skoda Umbrellas which come with it. It's mega roomy, too. I prefer it to the Mondeo, simply because it's going to be cheaper and more reliable. It's also going to have way more spec. It's roomier, too. And I think we'll leave the taxi drivers and airport rental companies with the now-very-dull-looking Octavia. I bet they'll come up with a great advertising campaign for the Superb, though!

15 May 2008

BY the way, does anyone know if Skoda are going to be at this year's London Motorshow? I'd really like to see the Superb before it hits our streets in September - and I've also heard rumours that they'll be debuting the Yeti there. So, is the rest of the Volkswagen group going to be there?


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