Skoda Superb road test by Steve Rogers


Bentley one week, Skoda the next. Such is the varied life of your car tester.

Turn the clock back 25 years and you could fairly say this was the sublime to the ridiculous but while the brands are poles apart times have changed for the underdog. Volkswagen buying the Czech company opened up a whole new world. I’ve been a fan since my first drive in the Octavia in 1997 and have been banging the Skoda drum ever since.

The cars are still built in the home country but the parts come from Wolfsburg so it is no surprise to see matching gear in Volkswagen, Audi or Seat models, in fact there is a small connection with Bentley. The blind spot warning strip in the Superb’s door mirrors is identical to those in the Bentley Continental, another VW company.

The Superb has been the flagship model since 2001 building a reputation on a ginormous cabin. Never mind six footers, there is space for seven footers in the back of a Superb and no one in its class can match the size of the boot either.

Not that Superb has been having an easy ride. Its market has been in decline for years with customers turning to big SUVs for space and versatility and Skoda is well placed there as well with the excellent Kodiaq.

Yet Superb’s unique selling point of class leading space and value for money has given it a strong fan base in the fleet and company car markets where it has been a regular pain in the backside for main rivals Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia and even its Wolfsburg cousin, the VW Passat. What a genius move on Skoda’s part to distance itself from Passat by making it roomier.

The hatchback’s 625 litre boot capacity is streets ahead of the opposition and gets even better with the seats down – 1760 litres and if that’s not enough then go for the estate where there is nearly 2000 litres of space. You will find just how big the boot is when you try to retrieve something that has spilled into a far corner. It requires long arms or a very big stretch.

To give it a bit of context the hatchback’s boot easily swallowed two full sets of golf clubs and trolleys with the seats up.

Dwelling on space is an injustice to Superb which is a fine all rounder. The new dashboard layout is practical rather than stylish with a central eight inch touchscreen for infotainment – that’s navigation, radio and smartlink technology for Android, CarPlay and Mirror Link along with other car related features.

This comes in at SE L level which is the start of the premium trim and there is the option to spend £475 on the virtual cockpit. It offers five different views, easily selected from a button on the steering wheel. The show’s highlight is a full width 10.2in Google map gifted, eventually, by its masters at VW-Audi. Skoda always has to wait its turn for the top tech.

Equipment level is generally good with leather heated seats, powered for the driver, LED headlights, keyless entry, and a host of electronic safety features yet there is one inexplicable omission – a reversing camera. It is a £385 option unless you buy the 39 grand top of the range Laurin & Klement model and with the saloon’s high rear window it’s needed. Parking sensors with rear proximity lines on screen don’t cut it on a car at this price.

A couple of weeks ago I was lauding the 1.5 litre petrol engine in the new Golf but raised an eyebrow when I saw it was powering the much bigger Superb. Again it was another revelation and would be my choice over a diesel easily topping 50mpg. With the extra weight and size the economy and performance was even more spectacular than the Golf, so sharp and refined, and working beautifully with the seven-speed DSG auto gearbox. It too has cylinder deactivation right up to 70mph to help save fuel.

Handling is safe and predictable and airs on the side of comfort. For performance seekers this is no BMW 3-Series or Audi A4, not even a Peugeot 508 or Mazda6, but if you want to stick with Skoda and have some fun then go for Octavia.

Superb is what it is, a comfortable, very competent large family saloon or estate and arguably the best car in its class.

Need to know

Superb SE L 7sp DSG auto

£29,545 – £31,570 tested

1.5litre TSI; 147bhp

0-62mph 9.2secs; 135mph

42.2mpg combined

153g/km. 1st year tax £540 then £145

Boot: 625 litres

Insurance group 19