Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI SE

Our family favourite continues to put up a really strong challenge

No car lives up to its name like the Skoda Superb. With a brilliant blend of space, standard kit and sharp driving dynamics, it has taken on and beaten all challengers, from mainstream models to premium machines. 

As a result, the Superb has driven off with the Best Family Car crown at the annual Auto Express New Car Awards for the past two years. So the new Passat will have to be on the very top of its game if it wants to take victory here.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Superb Estate

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In practical estate guise, the Skoda has the VW beaten for road presence. With its classy chrome grille, wraparound headlamps and well judged proportions, the Superb attracts more attention than the sober-suited Passat. 

The slightly ungainly five-door version is a less successful design than this load carrier – although its clever Twindoor tailgate adds a welcome dose of versatility, and enables owners to choose between saloon and hatch openings at the touch of a button. 

Inside, our contenders are closely matched on quality. The Skoda’s cabin is robustly built, using first-rate materials – all the plastics are soft to the touch, while the switches operate with an oiled precision. Neat details include the rubberised thumb wheels for the air vents; these are helpfully illuminated at night. 

What’s more, the Superb steals a march on space and standard kit. Passengers in the rear get limousine levels of room and comfort, while opening the large tailgate reveals a vast 633-litre load 

bay with the seats in place. 

Our SE features desirable equipment such as climate control, a six-CD multichanger and parking sensors. And adding to the premium appeal are Alcantara-trimmed seats.

At the test track, the Superb puts more clear air between itself and the VW. Both cars are powered by the same 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine, but in the Skoda it’s tuned to provide 30bhp more than the Passat, at 168bhp. As a result, the Superb was quicker during our in-gear tests, taking only 5.6 seconds to cover 30-50mph in fourth.

In the real world, it feels even swifter, as its mid-range muscle gives greater confidence during overtaking manoeuvres.

Despite its imposing size, the Skoda is surprisingly agile from behind the wheel. Direct and well weighted steering, strong grip and excellent body control all combine to make it a more dynamic choice than the VW. Better still, a composed ride helps isolate occupants from the road surface, and only the worst potholes filter through to the cabin. There’s one area in which the Superb trails its rival: tyre and wind noise. But if you can put up with that, it’s superior in most other respects.

The icing on the cake is the price – the £23,255 Skoda undercuts the slower and less well equipped VW by £120. In fact, the only fly in the ointment is the rather high CO2 output of 151g/km; this makes it a much more costly company car choice. But apart from this black mark, the Skoda still puts in another majestic performance.

Details

Chart position: 1WHY: Big Skoda is our class champ, thanks to its huge cabin, sharp chassis, value pricing and quality finish.

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