No car deserves its name more than the Skoda Superb. Since bursting on to the family car stage in 2008, it has set a high standard for practicality, quality and value for money. Factor in its novel TwinDoor tailgate and brilliant driving dynamics, and it makes a fine alternative to more mainstream models.
The slightly ungainly Superb certainly doesn’t follow the herd when it comes to styling. Yet while it can’t match the rakish Citroen C5 for kerb appeal, it has plenty of presence, thanks in part to its large chrome grille and long overhangs. The car in our pictures is an Elegance model, which doesn’t benefit from the distinctive, two-tone 18-inch multi-spoke alloys of our Laurin & Klement test car.
If there are question marks over the exterior, they’ll be blown away when you sit at the wheel. What the interior lacks in striking design, it makes up for with quality and ease of use. There’s also more kit than you’ll find in some luxury cars costing three times as much.
The chocolate brown leather trim won’t be to all tastes, but look past it and there are desirable additions such as heated, ventilated seats, a TV tuner, a powerful 10-speaker stereo and bi-xenon headlamps. You’ll have to pay extra for all this equipment on the C5.
Yet while the gadgets and gizmos are appealing, it’s the space on offer that really impresses. Passengers in the back benefit from around double the legroom they get in the Citroen, while separate climate controls even allow them to control the temperature.
And there’s more to the boot than its generous 595-litre capacity, which is a huge 156 litres more than the Citroen. The Superb’s slightly bulbous rear end houses the novel TwinDoor tailgate. In most situations it has a normal saloon opening, just like the C5. But at the touch of a button, the tailgate can be converted into a hatchback.
Better still, the Skoda has the pace to match its space. The combination of an eager 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel and rapid-fire six-speed DSG gearbox helped it complete 0-60mph in 8.6 seconds – only a tenth of a second slower than the more powerful Citroen. But it’s out on the open road that it really gets into its stride, delivering more muscular in-gear acceleration.
Sharper steering, strong grip and excellent body control help it feel more nimble in corners, while the dual-clutch gearbox responds more crisply in both automatic and manual modes. But the trade-off for this agility is a firm ride. It can’t match the supple Citroen for long-distance comfort.
At £28,650, the Superb is slightly pricier than its rival and, like the Citroen, its CO2 emissions of 157g/km are nothing to write home about. Yet the Skoda hits back with stronger residuals and award-winning aftersales care. And you can always opt for the Elegance, which is nearly as well equipped as the Laurin & Klement but costs £3,575 less.