Škoda are doing well in the all important fleet market not just on value for money, but also because the cars are quite talented. Autobritannia try out the latest Superb estate to find out if the car befits its moniker…
My other half often jokingly quips ‘TAXI’ whenever I have mentioned the name Škoda. Yet with this point you have study the facts of what the most important factors are with the aforementioned cab or fleet drivers are – whole life costs and reliability. As a self employed cab driver for example, you pay in your pocket if your car spends time up on blocks whereby fleet managers need to wring every drop of value and use from their vehicles. They call it ‘asset utilisation’ in the trade and Skoda have proved to be an enormous hit working in the most punishing of environments.
Yet the Skoda range is so much more than Octavia or Superb taxis, the Yeti for example is a funky and phenomenal success with the private motorist which has had the enviable waiting list for expectant customers. The new Octavia 2.0 TDi in my opinion is one of the nicest cars in its class to drive and I have stated more than once that Skoda is slowly becoming an aspirational purchase not just because of value but because of genuine stand alone ability in an ever competitive market place – no easy task.
… could not fault the sheen of the paint or the fit of the panels.
At the upper end of the range the Superb has been with us for a few years being based on a slightly extended Passat platform. This latest example features the smaller VAG sourced 105PS 1.6 diesel engine and six speed manual box. We were keen to sample this in estate form just to see how well the engine performed inside a spacious estate car shell. The styling is on one hand quite restrained but the estate model has curves in the right places and we simply could not fault the sheen of the paint or the fit of the panels.
In the order of improving aerodynamics, the ride height has been lowered by 15mm and sits aloft 16 inch alloy wheels with optimised rolling resistance tyres. It looks like a car of deep rooted quality too, we were particularly impressed with the fit and finish of the alloy roof rails – as good as any equivalent Audi Avant. The standard fit projector headlamps with dynamic range adjustment give the car a purposeful frontal aspect but walking around the vehicle left us thinking the 16 inch ‘Helix’ alloys look dwarfed in the large body shell.
The ‘first contact’ of pulling on the door handle also hints at the sensation of good old fashioned rustic quality, as you hop into the captains chair and close the door behind, the thump noise reminds all concerned this car is built for and indeed – capable of – going the distance. Confidence is key in a car of this size and the interior fixtures and fittings are commendably well chosen and fitted together, of course most of them are sourced via the Volkswagen Group but by no means does the Superb feel like a cheapened down Audi or Volkswagen.
We found the font of the dials a little confusing especially on the speedometer and the colour keying of the interior a little gloomy but its all very well crafted and the vital buttons and controls operate with unquestionable ease or efficiency. Staying on that theme, Skoda claim a combined fuel consumption figure of an impressive 65.7mpg which should be enough to make any fleet managers heart flutter, but how does that 1.6 engine cope in the spacious estate bodyshell? – Its time to go and see.
The engine fires up with a split second flick of the key and idles with a familiar distant thrum of a V.A.G diesel unit. The attention to noise, vibration or harshness (NVH) has paid dividends as there is barely any sensation through the shell or controls and as pace quickens the chunky gearknob slots through the cogs as well as anything else you will encounter. The six speed box has been optimised for the 1.6 engine as the lower to intermediate gears are relatively close to each other leaving the last two as cruising ratios.
The engine on the test car felt a little tight but as anyone with experience of VW sourced diesels will tell you, they do dramatically improve with a few miles under the belt. The plant will happily spin round the dial to 5000rpm only becoming vocal in the last thousand and gives a nice shove of torque from the mid range all the way through the governed maximum speed. The level of refinement is what you would expect of a well specified estate car and the ride even unladen remains compliant and comfortable without feeling over hard.
a most capable car in most traffic situations… for munching up the motorway miles – its excellent!
Some faster back road pace finds the Superb Elegance Greenline 3 reasonably well controlled in the handling stakes, nice steering and good progressive brakes ensure the overall feeling of security and safety is never compromised. You do have to ensure you have the engine on the boil though as the torque almost drops off a cliff edge should you let the rev counter needle drop too much. On the whole though, the Superb is a most capable car in most traffic situations but as for munching up the motorway miles – its excellent.
The luggage area is cavernous, features a flat floor and has a pair of clever lamps built into the tailgate to illuminate the floor just behind the car to assist as you load up the boot. Space for clutter comes in the form of decent sized door pockets, a sensible carpeted glove box, centre console cubby box and armrest cover. The Superb is a sensible and well thought through estate car with some neat design touches but its not just the load space that gets looked after – passengers wont be disappointed either.
The space is wonderful and the leather seats feel just right for driving past County after County. Rear seat passengers are treated to floor level mood lighting, door post mounted air vents along with a neat floor console mounted digital clock. A rather good audio system with DAB and bluetooth connection is also included in what is a very well specified car that offers heated / electrically adjustable leather seats, cruise, climate control, colour touchscreen sat nav, power folding door mirrors and tyre pressure monitoring.
look beyond the badge and you have everything and more that an Audi A6 could offer.
At a shade over £25.000 the Skoda Superb is a hard car to ignore for those wanting an estate car with a dash of panache. its built well, it looks classy, has acres of room, is well equipped and drives with flair and refinement. Look beyond the badge and you have everything and more that an Audi A6 could offer. A car for the businessman and the private buyer? – absolutely.
In a world of hard knocks and tight wallets it really is… quite Superb!
OUR SCORE? – 9/10
The Highs: Almost flawless quality – Drives well – Good specification – Grace and space – Cruising refinement – Practical – Fuel economy – The thinking man’s Audi Avant – Really good value for money – Dealer network seem keen to impress customers.
The Lows: Cabin a bit dark and gloomy – Engine needs to be kept spinning to maintain progress on the back lanes – Wheels look a touch too small – Slightly confusing and upside down fonts on instrument dials.
1.6 TDi V.A.G diesel engine 105BHP
Six Speed manual gearbox with traction control
Five door estate bodystyle
All round coil springs
All round disc brakes with ABS / EBD
Split fold rear seat
MPG & CO2: 65.7 combined with 113g/Km (VED Band C)
Price as tested: £25.245 OTR
Need more info? go to Skoda UK