Large, comfortable and practical, just as the Superb has always been; and rational and straightforward in its character. It's pretty plain and unexciting to drive, too, in a way that plug-in hybrids generally haven’t risked being so far – but which, you might argue, the price positioning of this one uniquely permits it to be.
There is surprisingly little of the ‘special-derivative’ cabin garnish that we typically see on PHEVs about the interior. Our mid-level SE L test car had sports seats, a strip of carbonfibreish veneer and a sprinkling of ambient lighting, but nothing that you wouldn’t expect to find on any mid-trim business saloon.
The car’s controls, its layout and its general appointments are all very normal. If not for the special digital instrumentation graphics of the Virtual Cockpit binnacle, as required to allow the driver to effectively manage and blend petrol and electric power and monitor how the battery is charging (and discharging) on the move, you might very well not recognize it as an electrified model at all. The driving position is unusually highly perched for a saloon, and so visibility is good and long-distance comfort likewise.
The Superb iV imposes a minor practicality compromise over its conventionally fuelled rangemates, but it’s not one that’s too noticable – and you wouldn’t expect anything less from a car with such a remarkable reputation in this field. Its drive battery is carried under the back seats and within the wheelbase, but some of its power electronics are located under the boot floor – which means boot space drops from 625- to 485 litres for the hatchback version, and from 680- to 510- in the estate. This sounds like a big sacrifice on paper, but in practice all you really lose out on is underfloor storage areas. Second-row passenger space is still good enough to beat most mid-sized executive saloons.
The one measurement where this big Skoda doesn’t quite deliver such expansiveness is cabin width: a limitation of the Superb's widely-shared model platform. If you’re looking to get three youngish kids in booster seats across the back row, there are probably slightly more accommodating options for the money.
On the move, the car’s main dynamic qualities are its comfort, efficiency and ease of use – it's quite striking how "normal" the iV feels to use and to operate. Urban speeds are mostly taken care of under electric power, where responsiveness is good but not particularly notable, and drivability easy but not rousing or encouraging.
As standard the iV comes on 17in wheels, but our test car ran on optional 19s that caused it to trip and thump a little over nastier ridges around town, and also created slightly more road noise at higher speeds than suited its otherwise laid-back motive character. Ride comfort is generally good, though, thanks to a compliance-oriented suspension tune that makes the car absorbent of bigger inputs (DCC adaptive dampers are standard on every Superb iV, interestingly; while optional on the pricier VW Passat GTE) – if a little bit soft and short on body control at greater velocities.