- We like...Space for rear passengers
- We don't...Awkward styling
Skoda's big car packs hidden tricks. But it needs them, because it's no cheaper than its big-name competitors£18,000? For a Skoda? The Superb is the car that cans the idea of Skoda as a cheap ‘n’cheerful make. Before you’ve even clapped eyes on one, you’re wondering (perhaps unfairly) whether it is worth it and who’ll buy it.
Let’s shade in a bit of context. The Superb is a big car, intended to compete head-on with the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall’s new Insignia, and its sister car, the Volkswagen Passat (Skoda and VW share the same parent company). Far fewer buyers go for these conventional big hatchbacks and saloons than did even five years ago. Skoda has offered a previous version of this car to UK buyers for some years and it hasn’t really caught on. So you wonder why they’re persisting.
Well, the Superb has two trump cars to play. First, it isn’t just a hatchback or a saloon: it’s both. Pop the boot using the regular centrally-sited handle and it is, indeed, a saloon, allowing you access to the luggage area without interfering with the cabin. But, should you need to load in something big of awkwardly shaped, you tug two catches in sequence and the boot becomes a full tailgate.
Second, cabin space for those in the rear is massive. There is room enough for even the lankiest passengers to sprawl in comfort. In that respect, it’s bigger than any of the competition.
And the interior is, indeed, superb for the money. Our SE is only halfway up the model range but it packs suede and leather seats, two-zone digital air con, a touch-screen radio/CD, vanity mirrors with lights, ‘puddle’ lights to help you enter/exit when dark...the list gs on. On the outside, you get allow wheels and rear parking sensors.
Parked, it looks handsome enough, wearing the Skoda family grille. But the design looks to our eyes oddly uneven front-to-rear, as if the stylist gave up three-parts through the job.
It drives as smoothly and neatly as you’d expect, knowing that underneath that body it shares plenty of parts with the VW Passat. The suspension is supple, not too soft, and keeps the car well controlled over poor surfaces – just like a Passat. And the Superb steers accurately, but not sportily – it just isn’t that sort of car.
The previous Superb somehow took Volkswagen bits and put them together so that it rode even better than any VW. The current car dsn’t repeat that trick, however: it’s good, but no better than a Passat. And it’s a heavy car, so the 105bhp 1.9 diesel in ours struggled when full of passengers.
It’s likeable, though. And we’re sure it’ll find sales among Skoda’s fiercely loyal band of owners, trading up from a Fabia or Octavia. Beyond that, it’ll pick up fans among free spirits who applaud the fact that it’s useful and different. But when a Mondeo costs no more, is as practical and is better to drive, while an £18k Passat is classier and likely to lose value more slowly as it ages, we can’t see the Octavia doing that well in the wider market. Pity, really.
View new and used Skoda Superbs on motors.co.uk
- Engines1.9 diesel
- 0-60 mph12.5secs
- Insurance groups7E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: