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Road tests

New Skoda Superb 2024 review: supremely spacious family car lives up to its name

Skoda’s huge hatchback still focuses on space and comfort, but now does it all with a touch more class

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Verdict

The new Skoda Superb combines everything we loved about its award-winning predecessor with newfound sophistication. The king-size hatchback is still comfortable, hugely spacious and offers a well-finished interior at an affordable price. But its new smart and intuitive technology adds more functionality without compromising or overcomplicating matters – the way only Skoda knows how. 

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The new fourth-generation Skoda Superb has a lot to live up to. The last one was a brilliant all-rounder, and offered such a vast amount of cabin space that it won our Family Car of the Year award an impressive four times. That was no mean feat among a sea of talented SUVs that have become the default choice for modern families. No pressure then.

Like before, the new Superb is being offered as an estate car – which we already drove back in March – and as the saloon-cum-hatchback tested here. This bodystyle has fallen out of favour in recent times; rivals like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia have kicked the bucket, and even the Superb’s sister car, the Volkswagen Passat, is offered exclusively as a wagon now. But Skoda obviously sees this is an opportunity to have the large family hatchback segment all to itself.

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To our eyes, the new Superb’s more sculpted design could easily pass for something with an Audi or Mercedes badge on it, yet it still allows the big Skoda to fly largely under the radar. The designers and engineers have also refined the aerodynamics, whittling the drag coefficient down to just 0.23Cd, meaning it cuts through the air better, helping improve fuel efficiency and emissions.

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But while the styling is an evolution of what came before, the interior is totally new and perhaps the biggest display of how the new Superb skilfully balances clean, modern design and functionality.

You can clearly see this in Skoda’s new ‘Smart Dials’ nestled in the centre console. Each houses a sharp 32mm display, and pressing them toggles between the various functions they’re responsible for. The outer dials are used to control the cabin temperature and heated/ventilated seats, while the middle one can handle up to four functions, from fan direction to the drive modes. 

Using them feels natural after just a few miles, and the setup provides lots of functionality without masses of buttons cluttering the dashboard. We’re grateful Skoda hasn’t buried things deep in the touchscreen, too.

That said, the 13-inch free-standing central display isn’t just impressive because of its size, clarity or sheer responsiveness. The system itself is largely intuitive and customisable, including clever shortcut buttons providing instant access to the driver’s most-used functions. Skoda has also incorporated a place to rest your hand when interacting with the system.

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It’s little things like this that make a Skoda a Skoda. The new Superb launches with no fewer than 28 ‘Simply Clever’ features on offer – the Smart Dials among them. Others include the familiar umbrella hidden in the driver’s door and a handy ice scraper, both of which are now made from more sustainable materials. There’s also a screen-cleaner block, cooling for the wireless charging pad to prevent your smartphone from overheating, and a tablet holder built into the middle-seat armrest.

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Of course, those considering a Superb will have been drawn in primarily by the amount of space it delivers, particularly the yawning chasm in the back seats and boot. Even with the tallest drivers at the helm, there’s enough room for six-foot-tall adults to stretch out. There’s masses of legroom and headroom to spare, plus space under the front seats to tuck your feet in. There’s also the cavernous 645-litre boot, which is 20 litres larger than old model’s – but it does have a substantial load lip.

Skoda has reserved its new plug-in hybrid powertrain for the Superb Estate, although the hatchback is still offered with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines – the most potent of which also benefit from four-wheel drive.

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The model we drove featured the entry-level 148bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that comes with mild-hybrid tech. The setup’s starter-generator and 48-volt lithium-ion battery allow the car to coast with the engine completely off, or provide a small boost of power to aid the engine at low speeds.

Skoda claims the first-ever mild-hybrid Superb can return up to 52.1mpg if you’re careful, yet we came close without even trying. During our lengthy test route across the Czech countryside, and cruising on some motorways, we managed to average an indicated 43.5mpg. 

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Acceleration is leisurely, but the powertrain is smooth, plus the slick start-stop system works well when driving in town. The engine does produce a rather unpleasant drone during hard acceleration, or at higher revs, but it fades into the background when you lift off and return to a more comfortable load.

That is, when the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic – which features in every new Superb – finally decides to change gear. The gear shifts themselves are instantaneous, but it has a tendency to hold onto lower gears longer than we’d like.

Ultimately, this powertrain, and the new Superb in general, works best when the driver adopts a gentle, relaxed attitude. The ride is well judged, as it’s cushy and softens the impacts from potholes, but still allows the car to feel stable at high speeds and remain level during fast corners.

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Similarly, the steering isn’t completely weightless, but light enough to make manoeuvring this 4.9-metre family car feel easy. And the only intrusion when cruising at motorway speeds is some road noise.

With prices starting from £34,865, the Superb still offers impressive value. Even the entry-level SE Technology spec – which Skoda predicts will be the most popular in the UK – comes generously equipped with the big touchscreen, 10.25-inch digital driver’s display, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, cooled wireless charging pad, keyless start, and even heated and massaging front seats with adjustable lumbar support. Plus a reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and traffic-jam assist.

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Some may upgrade to SE L, similar to the Euro-spec model we drove, which adds larger wheels, a hands-free powered tailgate, mixed leather and artificial leather upholstery, and matrix LED headlights with dynamic range control and cornering functionality. 

However, we’re doubtful even a few people will opt for Skoda’s poshest specification, Laurin & Klement, as it costs over £10,000 more than the base car. The most noteworthy features on range-topping cars are their Dynamic Chassis Control Plus (DCC Plus) adaptive dampers, area-view camera system, parking assistance and choice of either black or cognac brown full-leather upholstery. 

Other details include chrome grille surround and trim, unique wheels, a heated leather steering wheel with shift paddles, heated rear seats, a heated windscreen and even heated washer nozzles.

We had a chance to drive a Superb L&K and didn’t feel the interior quality was that much different to the less expensive, mid-range version we started with, which already felt well-finished and built.

Model:Skoda Superb Hatch 1.5 TSI DSG SE L
Price:from £34,865 / 1.5 DSG SE L from £38,230
Engine:1.5-litre, four-cylinder MHEV
Power/torque:148bhp/250Nm
Transmission:Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive
0-62mph:9.2 seconds
Top speed:139mph
Economy:52.1mpg
CO2:126g/km
Size (L/W/H):4,912/1,849/1,481mm
On sale:Now
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News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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