From £19,140
We all know it’s a fine executive as both saloon and estate, but can it hold its head high in £40k company? Let’s see
14 April 2020

Why we’re running it: To see whether the latest Superb can cut it as an object of not only supreme practicality but also luxury

Month 2Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Skoda Superb Estate: Month 2 

Easy cruiser - 25 March 2020

A recent slog up to the far north of the country revealed just how adept this new 148bhp diesel-engined Superb is at long-distance cruising. As I mentioned last time, I’ve already seen improved fuel economy compared with that of the old 189bhp car in regular day-to-day use, but on this particular journey I averaged an impressive 60mpg without even trying. Lovely stuff.

Mileage: 4462

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Is this stand-in any less superb than our top-spec Skoda? - 18 March 2020

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Car review
Skoda Superb Estate

Skoda plots to grab a bigger slice of the pie with its likeable and hugely practical Superb range

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You might have noticed that the Superb pictured here is a different colour to the one that’s graced these pages over the past few months. The reason for the switch is simple: the grey one was crashed into.

Now don’t worry, yours truly is fine – and the bloke in the van that hit me wasn’t hurt either. But the Skoda was a bit mushed; its rear bumper and hatch were looking particularly sorry for themselves, and in its battered state, there was no way I could reasonably expect it to carry on with its daily duties – at least until a repair job had been carried out.

So it was promptly collected by the good people at the Skoda UK press garage, and this red one arrived to take its place. And while I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see my bells-and-whistles, range-topping Laurin & Klement model taken away prematurely, this one’s arrival at least provides the perfect opportunity for an impromptu spec comparison. Silver linings and all that, I guess.

This new Superb is a 148bhp diesel SE L, a car that – in standard guise – comes with a price tag of £31,670. So it’s not exactly entry-level, then, but it’s a damn sight cheaper than the 187bhp, 4WD L&K model I’ve been running about in up until now. And while I’ve become rather accustomed to the luxurious level of kit that comes as standard on that £40,295 model (£41,845 after options), this one by no means feels spartan.

Crucially, it retains the heated front seats of the last car. In the middle of what has been a particularly cold and stormy winter, that’s a big win. Less of a win is the fact the heated steering wheel has disappeared, but I guess you can’t have it all all the time.

Meanwhile, the Virtual Cockpit has been replaced by traditional analogue dials and Skoda’s 8.0in Amundsen infotainment system steps in for the old car’s 9.2in Columbus unit. While I hardly need to squint to see the dials or the smaller touchscreen, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the old car’s flashier screens at least a little bit.

Elsewhere, the SE L forgoes the adaptive dampers that come as standard on L&K cars. So the ride’s not quite as conspicuously cushioned as it was before, but as far as passive set-ups go, this is still a very good one. I’m less enamoured with the drivetrain, however.

Performance from the 148bhp engine obviously isn’t as strong as from the 187bhp model, and the DSG gearbox can still be frustratingly hesitant when you’d ideally like it to do its job and get you moving. But with power being sent exclusively to the front wheels rather than all four, my average fuel economy has been looking healthier. Where I was seeing 40-43mpg in the old car, this one is delivering better than 50mpg.

But it’s the 660-litre boot that remains the Superb’s defining feature. While the smaller hatchback would probably still carry all of my photography clobber with little bother, I love that with the estate I never have to think about whether or not something will fit. I simply open the boot, pack everything in and leave whatever sodden rural car park I happen to be based in for that particular photoshoot.

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Admittedly, the Superb is still not the most interesting car to drive from an enthusiast’s point of view. But after a long day of hiding in bushes and taking pictures of the exotic machines the road testers constantly run about in, I can’t help feeling a bit smug about the fact that – come home time – the car I’ll drive away in will be infinitely more comfortable.

Love it:

Front-driven Since switching cars, my average economy has increased and my fuel bills have decreased.

Loathe it:

Direct-shift gearbox Hesitant transmission is still a sticking point when paired with this lower-powered engine.

Mileage: 3756

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Too eager to warn of almost-danger - 4 March 2020

As phenomenally versatile as our top-spec Superb is, it’s not immune to the irritations of modern electronic safety systems. The emergency braking is particularly irksome, because a loud alert is triggered if it thinks you’re about to hit something, even when you’re only reversing slowly. Its ability to startle passengers is world-class.

Mileage: 6238

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Life with a Skoda Superb Estate: Month 1

A trip to the family business results in a grudging conversion - 26 February 2020

Our Superb has been with us only six weeks, yet it has already settled into the kind of rhythm of service that makes very short work of the everyday. I’ve taken to describing it as being like a great cup of tea: it’s entirely ordinary but also entirely perfect in its own way, and it has a habit of making the apparently unbearable seem, well… just fine.

As I’ve been coming to appreciate, this car is both comfortable and comforting to use in a much bigger way than encompasses just its function. It eases the pain of a 5am start and a 150-mile schlep before breakfast very nicely indeed – and I have plenty of days when that particular talent is so greatly appreciated. There isn’t a journey on the planet from which it couldn’t remove stress – and that’s not simply because it’s so spacious, refined and compliant, but also because it’s so wonderfully easy to use.

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The one thing it isn’t, though, as is already very plain to me, is special. The Superb is a car almost totally without ego. There is no sense of occasion about driving it; and if there was, the minor strain it might put on your brain to perceive it would likely feel entirely un-Superb-like.

And so, because it’s such a humble thing and you don’t feel inclined to take it on special trips to ‘nice’ places, I’ve made a mental note to ensure I do get it out and about a bit more than I have been. Every new car needs a fuss made of it, after all.

Trip number one was up to the Midlands to visit my folks – not least to find out what my dad, who’s a bit of a car buff himself, would make of the Superb. Dad’s a veteran of 35 years as a fish shop proprietor; and he clearly did much better at frying fish ’n’ chips in his younger years than I have at taking photos of cars, because 20-something years ago, he had a brand-new E36-generation BMW M3.

I was so keen to find out what he’d make of the Superb that I simply parked it in front of the chippy and let him make his mind up. He definitely liked what he saw – at least to begin with. He was interested; said it looked great; wanted to know more about it. And then I told him that it was a Skoda – and he insisted I move it away from the front of the shop immediately.

Dad has always been one for expensive German cars – BMWs and Mercedes, mostly – and, to be honest, his reaction didn’t surprise me. But I persisted. I showed him the sheer size of the Superb, the quality and richness of the interior and all of the on-board technology – and eventually he nodded that nod. It was the nod of a man who has inwardly realised he might have misjudged something, but possibly not seriously enough to admit as much to your face.

Every visit to the family chip shop ends in the same way: dad wishes you well and gives you a sack of surplus potatoes to take away with you. These slid into the Superb’s boot next to all of my uncommonly bulky photography gear with room to spare. Of course it did.

And then I wended my way home at much the same easy 40mpg stride at which I arrived, feeling like the Superb and I had done our bit both for Kordal family relations and Skoda’s international brand perception.

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Love it:

Space exploration It’s a big car, but I haven’t knowingly passed up a parking space in it yet; and I’ve yet to get anywhere near filling up it – either with cargo, rubbish or both.

Loathe it:

Lethargic engine I’m not a fan of diesels of any kind, but the lethargic responses of this one really do annoy at times. I’m just going to have to slow my mental pace a bit…

Mileage: 5946

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No shortage of space yet - 19 February 2020

The Superb’s capacious, 660-litre boot gobbles up my expansive collection of photography kit with the enthusiasm of a starved Cookie Monster and still has room to spare. Meanwhile, the car’s ride is otherworldly good; you can leave your ‘magic carpet’ at home. Whisper it, but from a purely pragmatic point of view, I think this might be the best long-term test car I’ve ever had.

Mileage: 5610

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Keep your hands where I can see them - 5 February 2020

I’m frequently being told that I have surprisingly soft, dainty hands, which comes as a surprise given they’ve weathered their fair share of storms out on photoshoots. There must be some truth in this, however, as the Skoda constantly thinks I’ve removed my hands from the wheel when I haven’t, forcing me to give it a jiggle to let it know I’m still there.

Mileage: 4953

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Welcoming the Superb Estate to the fleet - 29th January 2020

Ask the road testers of this magazine what they consider to be the greatest estate car on the planet and they’ll quickly say something along the lines of ‘Audi RS6 Avant’, followed more cautiously by ‘or a Skoda Superb’. Listen carefully and you might even hear the slight inflection placed on the second syllable of ‘Superb’. Because even when you happen to be the person making the claim, it still comes as a surprise that such an outwardly unremarkable machine might be the greatest of anything at all.

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But we know that the Superb is remarkable, and especially in long-bodied form. This second iteration (there was no estate variant for the original Superb, introduced in 2001) gets strong but refined Volkswagen Group engines and even more cargo potential than the Mercedes E-Class Estate – a total behemoth and the reigning capacity champ at the luxury end of the market. The latest Superb also possesses a likeably understated exterior design of sharp yet unobtrusive creases, and inside you’ll find good perceived quality.

If this all seems overwhelmingly positive for what is only paragraph three of a fresh long-term test, my apologies, but I need to continue, because there is then the price. When our road testers gleefully fix their timing gear to the new RS6, there’s a good chance it will explode to 100mph and back before the entry-level Superb estate can even reach 60mph, but at almost £100,000, the Skoda’s big, bad, eight-cylindered cousin will cost four times as much.

And that has always been the magic of the Superb estate: considering what it can do, it’s exceptionally good value. Which is where this long-term test gets interesting. Our Superb has been ordered in range-topping L&K guise, which is an all-the-trimmings specification named after Václav Laurin and Václav Klement, the men who together founded Skoda (until 1925 known as Laurin & Klement) in the Kingdom of Bohemia (today the Czech Republic) back in 1895. Equipped with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and four-wheel drive, it costs £40,295, which pushes it into the clutches of BMW’s 520d estate, which starts at £41,460 in SE trim. The BMW is similarly sized, similarly powerful (184bhp plays 187bhp, in the Skoda’s favour) and is an exceptionally good everyday car.

What we are therefore going to find out is whether, in 2020, Skoda can compete directly with the Bavarians, which is something that possibly hasn’t happened since (and please don’t quote me on this) Václav Bobek’s 1100cc Skoda Supersport beat the bigger-engined Formula 2 BMW of Zdenek Sojka during the 1950 Czechoslovak Grand Prix at Brno. One imagines a few corks were popped from bottles of Bohemia Sekt that evening, and if our Superb can score a recommendation over the 520d SE, it’ll be a similar story, albeit one unfolding at Skoda’s UK public relations offices in Milton Keynes.

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One thing in the Skoda’s favour is that it is positively overflowing with kit, much of it genuinely useful. Take, for example, the flashlight and 12V adaptor I’ve already found in the boot, and the umbrella compartments in the front doors.

The ‘key’ features list runs the length of an A4 page but, as far as we’re concerned, the most important elements are the adaptive cruise control, 10-speaker Canton sound system, 9.2in touchscreen display, matrix LED headlights and rear parking camera (useful because the car is longer than a VW Passat, although shorter than an Audi A6 et al). We’ll touch on items such as the ‘virtual pedal’, voice command and park assist, and their usefulness or otherwise, in future reports.

Meanwhile, elements such as the privacy glass, gloss black interior inserts and scrolling indicators are a matter of personal taste. My opinion is this L&K looks like a car most of us would be proud to own.

However, if the Superb estate really is to box above its traditional utility division, ride comfort and rolling refinement will need to play the biggest part. Further to this, with so much equipment to transport and the need for that transport to double up as a stable platform from which to shoot car-to-car ‘tracking’ shots on the move, automotive photographers like myself crave cavernous estates with a magic-carpet ride.

In this case, my first impressions have been very good, the combination of Skoda’s non-Sport chassis, adaptive DCC dampers and the long wheelbase generating pliancy that easily betters many cars with expensive air suspension. In an era when you can find 19in wheels even on a supermini, the Superb’s unique (and somewhat inelegant) 18in Propus Aero alloy wheels also look a wise decision, and with such big wheel arches to fill, there’s plenty of sidewall to absorb tired British roads. Admittedly, go too fast and the vertical control movements seem to pay homage to Citroën’s egg-caressing 2CV, but it’s a worthwhile compromise and with DCC there’s always the option of firming up the suspension when I’m in a rush. Which, in fairness, is more often than not.

Take it as read, then, that our new Superb will prove useful in the months we have it. Early indications are that its diesel engine is also capable of delivering excellent fuel economy, so for motorway driving, it seems to be just the ticket. But are its formidable kit list and attempted air of luxury enough to tempt us away from more aristocratic rivals? We’ll soon find out.

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Olgun Kordal

Second Opinion

When you consider this car’s spec and capability, £40,000 doesn’t feel unduly expensive in objective terms. It’s subjectively that the sometimes cold Superb could come unstuck compared with a BMW 5 Series, of which even the most basic versions ride and handle with a finesse that any enthusiast can appreciate. That said, the effortless way in which the Skoda’s suspension lowers the rear axle down from sleeping policemen is nothing less than sublime.

Richard Lane

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Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI 190 L&K DSG 4x4 Estate specification

Specs: Price New £40,295 Price as tested £41,845 Options Integrated towbar £805, Business Grey metallic paint £595, temporary spare wheel £150

Test Data: Engine 4 cyls, 1968cc, turbocharged, diesel Power 187bhp at 3500-4000rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1750-3250rpm Kerb weight 1635kg Top speed 142mph 0-62mph 7.7sec Fuel economy 41.0mpg CO2 171g/km Faults None Expenses None

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Join the debate

Comments
7

9 March 2020

Lovely. But wouldn't this long term test be much more relevant if it was a plug in hybrid Superb in a more everyday spec? I'm not sure this will tell us much other than it remains a good car with diesel and fully loaded.

9 March 2020

This is actually the third-generation Skoda Superb.  The first-generation was a China-market LWB Passat with a Skoda grille. The second-generation was the one with the "Twindoor" bootlid/hatchback arrangement and did have an estate version.

9 March 2020

Yes, it is the third generation Superb, but the first gen Superb (a stretched Passat) was not available as an estate. So this is the second gen Superb Estate (which is what I think Autocar are saying?) The first gen Superb was sold here too.

9 March 2020
Hi Jeremy, you're right, of course. I should have read the sentence more carefully. My brother-in-law bought a previous generation Superb Estate on my recommendation and it was great car, nice to drive and just enormous inside. It was replaced with a Kodiaq, another fine vehicle.

10 March 2020
Saying that this fully loaded, out the door price can be compared to a BMW sticker start price is pretty misleading. We all know that in reality that BMW 5 series would be pushing 46-50k by the time it actually rolls out the door!
Having said that. I have the Superb estate 1.6tdi "style" (as it's called in this country) with lots of options. (Company car. I didn't spec it) and it's lush! Recently rented an Audi on holiday and felt like I had taken a downgrade. Friends 3 and 5 series do have a better seating position, (BMW non SUV's cannot be beaten on that!) Bit apart from that. I fail to see. Or feel the difference!

14 April 2020

Hi

I'm seriously considering one of these.

I wish you had gone for the light interior so you could tell me how well it wears/marks

Do you have the false boot floor ? Does the load cover still fit under it with the Canton woofer in the left had side ?

I tried an All Terrain E-class and was disappointed with the rear passener space, ride on those standard 20" rims and horrible full lock 4x4 grinding noise. Epic straight six engine though ! Tried a 530 M Sport great handling but again not too much rear passenger space, if a bit better that the E Class

Cheers

16 April 2020

That the article seems to be peppered with vehicles from a "higher class", has this been done to make the reader believe that a car like this has real pedigree? Because I thought that Skoda was a budget brand and audi would fulfil this role. Or is it that audi and VW are just really overpriced. Or is it just because this magazine appears to be sponsored by VAG.

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