What is it?
The recipe for a successful Q-car is, on the face of it, rather straightforward. You take one understated family car, add a dollop of power, a handful of chassis upgrades and hey presto, you’ve got yourself a ‘sleeper’. However, over the last few years, manufacturers have managed to overcomplicate this formula.
Machines that were once purchased for their rapid performance and covert appearance - think the first-generation Audi RS6 or BMW M5 – are now designed for individuals who actively want to stand out. So where do you turn if you want a practical performance car that allows you to fly under the radar? Step forward the new Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TSI 280 4x4 DSG.
From the outside, the 280 looks almost identical to any other Superb of the same trim. The 4x4 badge on the bootlid isn’t unique to this model, and the twin exhaust pipes are tucked away so as to not attract any unwanted attention. Yet despite the Skoda’s restrained looks, its performance is anything but.
Under the bonnet is a 276bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine mated to a permanent four-wheel drive system and a quick-shifting DSG automatic gearbox. It's effectively the same driveline that was found in the speedy Seat Leon Cupra 280, and allows Skoda's unassuming family estate to crack 0-62mph in just 5.8sec.
Factor in that the 280 has the same class-leading ergonomics as the standard Superb and, on paper at least, it looks like Skoda could have found the ideal mix of practicality and performance.