Czech star brings limo feel to family car class.
There’s a lot to like about the Superb. Its space and quality are worthy of a prestige limo, there’s real innovation in the Twin Door boot and it is an ideal long-distance cruiser. While not quite as capable as Ford’s Mondeo, it has more kit, and Skoda’s table-topping Driver Power reliability survey performances show it will be painless to own, too.
How times change. A few years ago, the large family saloon market was in the doldrums. Sales were down and confidence was low. Fast forward to 2008, though, and thanks to cars such as the Ford Mondeo, Citroen C5 and Honda Accord, the sector is enjoying a renaissance.
The latest model to join in is Skoda’s Superb. With limo-like space, an innovative Twin Door tailgate and prices from £15,490, it has a lot going for it. We’ve never driven it on UK roads, though – so how does this left-hand-drive variant shape up?
Pretty good is the answer! While the Superb can’t match the Ford’s agility and steering precision on twisty routes, it acquits itself very well. The big saloon soaks up bumps, has decent body control and is very refined. It’s also capable and comfortable over long distances.
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The 160bhp 1.8-litre turbo petrol car we drove is fast, too, with an eight-second 0-62mph time and 136mph top speed. Meaty mid-range punch makes overtaking a breeze, while its 37.2mpg fuel return impresses – although the 140bhp 2.0 TDI diesel is a better bet for ultimate economy, as it claims 48mpg and emits 150g/km of CO2.
The cabin is beautifully made and standard kit generous. In the rear, there’s as much space as in Mercedes’ S-Class, while the clever Twin Door boot lets you open the whole tailgate, just like a hatch, or the bootlid, as with a saloon. The load space inside is simply enormous.
Less convincing is the styling. The Superb is certainly as big and as imposing as you’d expect a flagship to be, but thanks to an awkward rear overhang and rather generic tail-lights, it’s not what you’d call good looking.
What’s more, while this 1.8 T FSI Elegance is fast and well kitted out, it’s expensive. So we’d advise potential buyers to go for the 2.0 TDI S, which costs £17,000 but still comes with climate control and alloys.
Rival: Ford Mondeo
The Mondeo is brilliant in every area. It’s great to look at, well made and a lot of fun to drive. But even the talented Ford cannot offer as much space, practicality or standard equipment as the Skoda.