Skoda Superb review
The Skoda Superb is a large family car that lives up to its name: it's well equipped, extremely practical and great value for money
The Skoda Superb epitomises everything that has made the company so successful in recent years: it offers Volkswagen Group quality for less than the price of equivalent VW or Audi models, along with very high levels of standard equipment and great practicality for family buyers. Passenger comfort, build quality and the efficient engine range are all top-notch – this is simply one of the best big family cars you can buy right now. It would take a very determined badge snob to be put off by the lack of an upmarket logo on the nose.
Our choice: Superb 2.0 TDI 140PS SE Plus
The Skoda Superb looks slightly unsual in profile thanks to its unique roofline, and overall it isn't quite as neat and resolved as its VW Group stablemate the Passat. It's also a bit dowdy at the front, thanks to rather uninspired shape of the headlamps, which don't work as well as rivals' sleeker designs. The estate model looks much better proportioned thanks to the extra glass area at the back. The smaller alloys on entry-level models can look a bit lost in the wheelarches of such a large car – the Superb looks its best on bigger wheels. Interior quality is fantastic and the cabin on SE trim and above there is plenty of equipment as standard, while top-spec Elegance models feel suitably luxurious inside.
You won't see many of them on the road, but the Superb is available with a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and four-wheel drive. It will take the car from 0-60mph in just 6.5 seconds, but extremely steep running costs mean the familiar 2.0 TDI diesel engine is a much better choice. Its smooth nature suits the car much better, too – although it's very pleasant to drive, the Superb can't match the likes of the Ford Mondeo or new Mazda 6 for driver enjoyment. This car is also offered with Skoda's innovative 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which has plenty of low-down torque to haul its bulk around. The ride is very comfortable thanks to the Superb's long wheelbase and light controls make it easy to drive long distances and the excellent DSG automatic gearbox is both smooth and quick.
Skoda's record in our annual Driver Power survey speaks for itself: the Superb finished second overall in 2012, beaten only by its fellow Skoda, the Yeti. The company as a whole topped the manufacturer's charts as well, so there really is no more satsifying car to own. Reliability of both petrol and diesel engines, as well as electrics, is almost bulletproof. Electronic stability control is standard across the Superb range. Combined with a full complement of airbags, this helped the Superb score a maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test. Sure-footed four-wheel drive is offered on the fastest models as well.
The Skoda Superb's party trick is that it's both a hatchback and a saloon. The 'TwinDoor' hatch can be opened like a saloon's to drop smaller items into the boot, or the rear screen can be lifted with it to load up larger objects. Plenty of space for luggage does not mean passengers come up short, however. In fact, occupants in the rear enjoy legroom that wouldn't be out of place in a long-wheelbase limousine. Cabin storage is plentiful, and includes unique touches like an umbrella holder in the rear door on SE and Elegance trims. There's also the option of a variable boot floor for even greater interior flexibility.
As with other Skodas, there's an eco-special GreenLine version of the Superb available. It uses a 1.6 TDI diesel engine and various aerodynamic and gearbox tweaks to deliver 64mpg fuel economy and very low 114g/km CO2 emissions. It does cost more to buy initially, though, so drivers covering fewer miles will be as well off in the cheaper non-GreenLine models, which offer a more satisfying driving experience too. Insurance is suprisingly cheap for a car this big, and the Superb's reputation means it holds its value well on the used market.