Skoda Superb iV: long-term test review
First report: Plug-in hybrid tech promises to be a great match for the Skoda Superb iV
My initial impressions suggest that the Superb could be one of the best all-round cars money can buy. It’s just a shame the lockdown means we’ve barely scratched the surface.
- Mileage: 2,740
- Economy: 44.5mpg
It’s hard to improve a package that’s as well rounded as the Skoda Superb. This is a car that ticks all the pragmatic boxes: it’s smooth, stylish and spacious. Choose one of the diesels and it’s also economical.
However, earlier this year Skoda released a plug-in hybrid variant, and given what electrification does for comfort and refinement in other cars, the Superb iV, as it’s known, could just well be the sweet spot in the range. I’m spending an extended period with one to discover if it is.
First impressions are great, because it looks, feels and drives just like any other model in the range. Keen-eyed Skoda fans will notice the iV badge and the solid front ‘grille’, which hides the well positioned charging port. But in all other respects, visually, it’s just another Superb.
There’s not much change inside either, apart from a few PHEV-specific displays on the optional Virtual Cockpit fitted to our test car. In fact, the only real difference you’ll notice is a slightly smaller boot; the battery robs 140 litres seats-up, but with the capacity at 485 litres, it’s still not exactly what you’d call compromised. Plus, there’s underfloor storage to keep the charging cables out of the way, a feature that’s not as common among PHEVs as you might expect.
Not that I’ve had to charge it all that often, even before lockdown, because the Superb iV has an official electric range of 34 miles. It’s a figure that’s proving to be reasonably accurate if I drive gently and make use of the most aggressive brake regen mode.
Impressively, it’s not been hard to keep fuel economy around 50mpg most of the time, even without religiously charging the car, and that’s despite the iV weighing more than 200kg on top of the lightest Superb.
The first thing that struck me is that the Superb is both sensationally refined and supremely comfortable. Although my SE L model is the entry-point to Superb iV ownership, it’s still the pick of the range. Standard kit includes excellent Matrix LED headlights, heated leather seats, a powered bootlid and an eight-inch touchscreen.
That last feature is worth dwelling on for a moment. It’s slick, responsive, and the menus are logically laid out. It has myriad features, but it’s the Superb’s wireless Apple CarPlay set-up that is, for me, a complete revelation. Apple’s brilliant platform is instantly accessible as long as the phone is connected to the car via Bluetooth, and it has rendered the native sat-nav redundant for me.
However, although the system operates wirelessly, there’s no wireless charging in the car, so topping up your phone’s battery on the go still requires a lead.
My test car has a few easy-to-justify options, which despite a price hike earlier this year, keep the car as-tested under the £40,000 VED threshold. The £395 LED Package Plus features ambient interior lighting, including some of the most effective puddle lights I’ve seen. The rear parking camera is a worthwhile £385, and the £475 Virtual Cockpit is a must-have feature. The only extra which the jury is still out on are the 19-inch alloys. They look fantastic, without doubt, but the 40-section tyres give a slight brittleness to the ride that you might not expect.
Other weak spots? I’m not totally sold on the Superb’s looks; it’s far from ugly, but can seem a little oddly proportioned from some angles. And now I’ve set up a user profile for the Skoda Connect app, the system takes a bit too long to boot up. I’m not yet able to complete the registration, either, because it needs the unlock button to be pressed on two keys as a sensible security message. It’s hardly a critical issue, although it would be nice to remotely monitor the battery charge.
|Model:||Skoda Superb iV 1.4 TSI DSG SE L|
|On fleet since:||Mar-20|
|Engine:||1.4-litre 4cyl turbo plus e-motor, 215bhp|
|Options:||19-inch Canopus alloy wheels (£695), LED package plus (£395), Moon White metallic paint (£595), rear parking camera (£385), Virtual Cockpit (£475)|
|Insurance*:||Group: 26 Quote: £448|
|Any problems?||None so far|