Superb got the subtlest of facelifts in 2006
It's basically a stretched Passat for sub-Golf money
Auto box is extra, but space comes as standard
First DriveSkoda’s economy-minded flagship is cavernous and top-value, but isn’t as fluent-riding as the rest of the range
First DriveGreenline requires little compromise for such low running costs
What is it?
Potentially one of the most underrated, interesting and best-value family cars on the road, that’s what.
Why review it now? Because the Czech company facelifted this, its flagship saloon, late in 2006. Back then, we tried out a range-topping 2.5-litre V6 TDi model and, although we liked it enormously, we also wrote that the new 2.0-litre diesel model, which gives up just 22 lb ft of torque to the six-pot but costs nearly £2000 less, would probably be the smarter buy.
Now we discover if we were right, and in the process, get a chance to find out how well the Superb’s aged during its five years on the forecourt.
What’s it like?
Still a surprisingly compelling car. Just as we suspected, the VW Group’s 138bhp, 236lb ft diesel is the engine of choice for the Superb. It’s capable of tugging this generously proportioned saloon along with plenty of urgency, and it’s frugal too; think 40mpg tootling down to the shops, and close to 50mpg on the run.
Engine refinement is a bit of a let-down; the VW Group’s high-pressure, pumpe duse injection system has never made for the quietest or most vibration-free cruisers on the market, and if you drive other modern turbodiesel saloons in the Superb’s class, you’ll realise that it’s not the smoothest.
But it certainly is big. Huge, you might even say, the first time you open those long back doors and climb into the rear. Cabin space has always been the Superb’s real trump card; it’s as roomy as the most spacious £40k executive saloons.
I’m six feet four, and yet I could travel in the back of a Superb, sitting behind someone of the same height, with the driver’s seat as far back as it’ll go and still have a couple of inches of kneeroom to spare. Within the Mondeo class, that’s enormous.
It’s still pleasant to ride in, too. Dynamically, the Superb’s no match for the best in class; blame that on the eight-year-old VW Passat chassis mechanicals sitting underneath it, which bring a certain brittle restlessness to the ride quality on occasions.
But that’s a criticism relative only to the very newest and very best D-segment saloons; unless you’re in the chassis development or road-testing business, you’ll be too busy stretching out in those huge rear chairs to find anything to complain about.
Should I buy one?
If you regularly travel with three other full-sized adults, you don’t want to go the whole hog and buy an MPV, and you do want to maximise the amount of metal you get for your money, absolutely.
Here is a smart-looking saloon with more room in it than a BMW 5-series, but that’ll cost you £2000 less than an identically engined VW Golf Sport. It’s got more-than-respectable motorway punch and yet it also does more than 600 miles on a tank of diesel.
For those reasons, you can forgive the Superb the occasional chassis tremor and its few elderly looking VW parts bin cabin components. Some prospects simply make too much sense to turn down, and in its cheapest 2.0-litre diesel form, Skoda’s flagship saloon is one of them.