Skoda Superb review

30 Aug, 2013 12:00pm Mat Watson

Can the facelifted Skoda Superb compete against its smaller brother, the new Octavia?

Verdict

3
The Skoda Superb remains a good car, but it’s beginning to feel dated, despite this facelift. Put it next to the much newer Octavia, and it’s difficult to make a case for it. The Superb isn’t much more practical, and does without a fair amount of equipment the Octavia gets as standard. Plus, it’s not as cheap to run or as good to drive.

The Skoda Superb had a recent facelift in a bid to stop it being upstaged by its smaller brother, the new Octavia. 

We drove the hatch version, in GreenLine III trim, and as with the estate it gets a new grille, redesigned headlamps and foglights, while round the back LED tail-lights are now standard. There are also some new colours and fresh alloy wheel designs to choose from.

Skoda Superb review

Inside, very little has changed with the Skoda Superb. You get a high-quality, logically laid-out dash, while soft-touch plastics are used throughout. Look closely, though, and you’ll spot a few minor updates. A multifunction leather steering wheel now comes as standard across the range, as does cruise control. Plus, all cars now get a six-speed manual gearbox – even the GreenLine version, which used to have a five-speed.

This model is powered by a 1.6-litre diesel, which Skoda says can manage 67.3mpg. It’s not an unrealistic claim – on a 100-mile run up the motorway, we averaged 63mpg without even trying. Meanwhile, CO2 emissions of just 109g/km will really appeal to company car drivers wanting to minimise their Benefit-in-Kind tax.

With just 104bhp hauling such a large car, the big Skoda is never going to feel swift. But once you’re moving, this GreenLine III is more lively than the 12.2-second 0-62mph time suggests. The only problem with the engine is that it’s rather rough – a real shame in a car that’s otherwise very quiet.

Considering its size, the Superb handles well. But while it has accurate steering and plenty of grip, it’s never fun in the way a Mazda 6 is. The ride quality can’t match a Ford Mondeo’s, either. It’s not that the new car is overly firm – it actually feels quite soft, but bizarrely it fidgets over bumps and bangs through potholes.

The GreenLine rides 15mm lower than other Superbs, for improved aerodynamic efficiency, so unless you’re crawling along at 10mph when you go over a speed hump, the front bumper is likely to catch on the tarmac.
This is the least of the new five-door’s problems, though – as the new Octavia is a better car. Take the Superb’s boot, for example: the capacity sounds impressive, at 595 litres, but that’s only five litres more than the cheaper Skoda provides.

And while there’s more room in the back seats of the Superb, plus the saloon/hatch Twindoor tailgate, you’d never call the Octavia cramped and we only ever used the hatchback opening during our time with the car. And if you want to fold the seats to increase boot space in the Superb, you get an annoying ridge in the middle of the load area.

Was it too hard for Skoda to update the car with an adjustable boot floor? And was it too difficult for the company to equip it with a DAB radio and USB input as standard, too? After all, this is 2013. Time moves on and, despite a facelift, the Superb hatch is starting to show its age.

Disqus - noscript

My word, it looks like Skoda might have cut down it's funding for Auto Express a little bit! Or is this just a cunning plan to make us think that... Because taxi firms will still buy them... Hmmmm...

Superbly boring and tedious like every Skoda.

It is the first time that AE does a spot on review of sorts...I never had the greatest admiration for the superb for all the points they now criticize

Ah the jealous back side wipes are out in force today. Superb a fine car.

Yes, the Superb needs replacing but the rest of the Škoda range is streets ahead of almost every car similarly priced. There are still a few brainless forms stuck in the 1980s who haven't caught up with the game yet but whatever they are driving is probably not as good as a Škoda.

....if you own a taxi firm.....

Whats wrong with taxis?

There are better cars than the Fabia and Rapid. And dependant on what you prioritise when looking for a car, there are better all-rounders than the Octavia and Yeti.

I don't think any Skoda right now is top of its class.

I'd agree with CarGeek, they aren't top of the tree but they are top within the VAG stable that's for sure.

You mean like all VAG cars.

Thanks, but I guess I am one of 'brainless forms' stuck in the 80's (which I wasn't even around for...).

I think Volkswagen have failed in fully shaking off the poor brand image. They're not bad cars, and owners love them but they haven't been able to inject the same desirability as Kia and Hyundai. And under Volkswagen's ownership this was perfectly possible.

Don't call me a badge snob though as I'm not but the truth is that Skoda's aren't quite as well equipped as their VAG equivalents and not cheap enough to justify it. They allow their cars to age far longer than Korean rivals and tend to be bland inside and out.

They have their qualities but Volkswagen has neglected Skoda a little in my opinion.

Park a Superb next to an i40 or and Optima and you can see just by looking at the three of them that the Skoda oozes quality, whereas the Kiyundais look extremely cheap. Sit in the Superb or Octavia, and the Kia/Hyundai feels even cheaper. The new Octavia is built on the new Golf 7 platform, shares engines/boxes etc. VW Group know exactly what they are doing with their brands, and Skoda are well on course to build 1.5 million cars a year within the next 4-5 years, a feat they will surely achieve. If any of the VW Group products have been neglected its SEAT, they are virtually dying, and produce less than a third the amount of cars Skoda do annually.

Utter rubbish!

I think I've been very fair about Skoda. I don't personally like them but I do think they represent sensible, no nonsense family motoring. But I'd go no further than that.

I don't think Skoda's ooze quality in terms of exterior and certainly not interior styling. Even Skoda would admit that their design is simplistic rather than cutting edge.

The i40 and Optima are really nice looking cars. It's subjective, yes, but it's hard to argue which of the cars had most time spent designing - the Korean cars.

Call the people what you like but there is still a lot of prejudice against non-VRS Skoda's, while Korean prejudice is bordering on non-existent.

As for interior quality, I'd really argue there's precious little between VAG models and other brands. I haven't sat in the new Octavia but I've sat in the new Golf and Leon models and the new i30, Cee'd, and i40 and I'd agree that the Germans have a knack with soft touch plastics - they are definitely the softest - but actual quality of the things you actually use everyday are in no way inferior to the Germanic rivals. You're reassured of this with an industry leading warranty. That's something Skoda should have offered years ago.

I'd partially agree that Seat has too been neglected. As with Skoda, the product life spans are set too long to remain competitive. Think how many facelifts/new models of VW cars were launched during the respective life spans of the Leon, Altea and the outdated from the outset Exeo?

I can see you're a super-fan but try and open your mind to the many rivals that have taken huge leaps in closing the gap with the Germans, so much so it's almost indistinguishable. But when you say VW know exactly what they're doing with their brands, you contradict yourself and say that Seat is dying? Make your mind up!

Exactly sir!

Totally agree with what you say about Skoda - I suspect vgfan is either an employee of Skoda or obsessive fanboy reading the rubbish he is spouting.

Key specs

  • Price: £21,535
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 104bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 12.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 122mph
  • Economy: 67.3mpg
  • CO2: 109g/km
  • Equipment: Dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, Alcantara cabin upholstery
  • On sale: Now

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