Skoda Superb SportLine Estate 2016 review
The Skoda Superb range gets a boost with the new SportLine trim, which add loads of extra kit and a sporty look
While there's no Skoda Superb vRS in the range, this SportLine model easily fills the void. It's fast, handsome, and good to drive, while also being efficient and practical. The SportLine spec means there's loads of kit on board, adding a sporty look that's not too over-the-top. The 188bhp diesel and four-wheel drive powertrain mean there's plenty of performance whatever the weather, but unless you really need the extra traction, it’s the cheaper 148bhp car that we’d spend our money on.
Although the SportLine trim is available on most engines in the range (only the 1.6-litre diesel and entry-level 1.4-litre petrol are excluded), the model we tested is the closest thing we'll see to a Superb vRS diesel. Of course, those looking for even more performance can spec the excellent Superb 280, with its 276bhp turbocharged petrol engine.
With the tinted windows, black grille, 19-inch alloys and subtle body kit, the SportLine looks the part from the outside, especially as the styling upgrades haven’t been overdone. It's cool-looking without being bullish or extroverted, while the lack of a true vRS badge has its own appeal as well.
It gets better from behind the wheel, as the SportLine's Alcantara seats look and feel great, while the carbon-effect dash and ambient lighting mean it seems less utilitarian inside than lower-spec variants. All cars get a driving mode selector too, which means you can choose from Eco, Normal and Sport to tailor the driving experience (it adjusts the steering, throttle and gearbox settings accordingly) as you desire.
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While the Superb SportLine isn't as sharp as something like an Octavia vRS, the car's chassis is already excellent. It's fun to drive when you want to go quickly, with loads of grip through this car's 4x4 system and relatively little roll. The steering could be quicker, but it offers a decent compromise between weight and feel. When you calm things down, the car settles into a cruise nicely, with a compliant ride and not too much noise coming into the cabin.
There's plenty of performance from the 188bhp diesel under the bonnet, and even though the engine sounds gruff and doesn't have much character, it's still fun to use the 400Nm of torque on offer. From a standstill, the 4x4 system's traction means it feels genuinely fast, too.
For economy and everyday usability, the diesel is an excellent choice. The performance doesn't come at a high financial cost, since the car will still manage 55.4mpg and 135g/km of CO2. There is a lower-powered version of this engine with 148bhp that manages 60.1mpg and 122g/km of CO2, though it’s not available as a 4x4 in SportLine trim. Still, it's probably a more sensible buy if you don't need the extra traction - and most don't.
The DSG automatic gearbox is as good as ever in the Superb SportLine, offering smooth shifts in auto mode and fast ones when changing manually using the paddles on the steering wheel. It's another aspect of the Superb's great mix of ability, being both comfortable and good to drive.
Of course the other part of the Superb's appeal is its practicality, which is only magnified in this Estate version. With 660 litres of space, or 1,950 litres with the seats down, this is one of the most spacious cars around. It beats every car in its class for space, as well as many much larger cars as well. Plus, the space is simple to access and the seats fold down easily. Family load-luggers don't get much better than this.
There's plenty of room for passengers as well, with loads of leg and headroom in the back. The tinted windows mean it's a little dark back there, but up front, the comfortable sports seats and neatly-designed dash mean it feels pretty upmarket. The touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use and has a smart design, too.
Standard kit on the SportLine includes pretty much everything you'd want: there's 19-inch alloys, sat-nav, xenon lights, parking sensors, Wi-Fi, keyless go and the drive select system. This powerful diesel model costs £33,735, which is expensive whichever way you look at it. The lower-powered diesel costs £30,840, which with a 10 per cent deposit, is around £75 less per month on a PCP finance deal.