Skoda Superb Outdoor review
The Skoda Superb Estate gets a rugged makeover to rival the Audi A4 Allroad, but the Outdoor is more style than substance
The Skoda Superb Estate is already available with four-wheel drive. But Skoda has taken the SE spec 4x4 models and given them a rugged makeover to create the Skoda Superb Outdoor. It's intended to blend a little extra off-road ability without the social stigma of having a full-size SUV parked in your drive. However, it doesn’t actually feature any extra off-road ability, but does come with extra equipment as standard over the model on which it’s based, including a full suite of plastic cladding on its exterior to better ward off bumps and scrapes. However, it costs more than the standard SE 4x4 model.
Our choice: Superb Estate Outdoor 2.0 TDI 170
The Skoda Superb Outdoor is only available with an estate bodystyle. And that’s no bad thing, as the standard Superb saloon isn’t the best looking car in the line-up. In order to mark out the Outdoor from the rest of the estate range, Skoda has added some pseudo-tough plastic cladding which runs along the base of the doors, bumpers and around the wheelarch edges. All Outdoors get 18-inch alloys as standard, too, plus tinted windows from the B-pillar backwards. The changes are rather minor, and you have to look quite hard to notice the difference between the Outdoor model and the standard SE estate on which it’s based.
Unlike similar jacked-up estate cars like the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack and Audi A4 Allroad, the Skoda doesn’t feature any extra suspension travel. However, that means that the standard car’s smooth ride remains, and it corners with very little body roll. Three engines are available: a 1.8-litre petrol, a lower-power 2.0-litre diesel offered only with the DSG dual-clutch gearbox, and a high-power 2.0-litre diesel, which is the pick of the bunch as it offers plenty of power and decent economy. The 4x4 system is smooth, too, with the only real difference being a slightly heavier clutch pedal than cars lower down the Superb range.
The Superb Estate already has a proven reputation for reliability, so there’s no reason why the Outdoor should be any different. In fact, the Superb finished a very impressive second in the 2012 Driver Power Top 100 just behind the Yeti, while Skoda finished first as a brand overall. The interior certainly feels bulletproof and many of the components are used throughout the Volkswagen Group range without any problems. The addition of the plastic cladding also takes some of the sting out of bumps and scrapes. Hill-hold control and tyre pressure monitoring are included as standard, as are heated windscreen washer nozzles for cold mornings. Like the rest of the Superb range, the Outdoor carries a full five-star Euro NCAP rating.
The main reason for buying a Skoda Superb Estate is its space. The Outdoor is just as spacious inside as the normal estate, so that means that with the rear seats up, there’s a generous 633-litre boot. Dropping the rear seats is an easy operation, and that means the space increases to a huge 1,865 litres. Both figures are considerably bigger than the more expensive Volkswagen Passat Allrack and Audi A4 Allroad. Neat features like a torch and umbrella are included in the Skoda, too. There’s also plenty of space for the driver and passengers.
The Superb Estate may not be a full-size SUV, but at nearly five-metres long, it’s still a big car and thus economy isn’t spectacular. The 158bhp 1.8-litre petrol model comes with a manual gearbox only, and returns 34.5mpg and emits 191g/km of CO2. The 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel can only be had with a dual-clutch DSG gearbox, and returns a claimed average of 44.8mpg and 166g/km of CO2. The most powerful 168bhp 2.0-litre diesel is also the cleanest engine, with figures of 44.8mpg and 165g/km of CO2. The Outdoor’s sticking point is its price – it’s £2,280 more than the 4x4 SE, but is no better when the going gets tricky. What’s more, if you can live without the plastic cladding, speccing up a standard SE 4x4 to the equivalent of an Outdoor is still £725 cheaper.