First Drive: Skoda Superb Estate
Estate cars traditionally put space before style, but since 2009, Czech manufacturer Skoda has managed to combine the two qualities pretty effectively in the form of its acclaimed Superb Estate. The company has sold more than 600,000 examples of the car, the load-lugging version of its flagship hatchback, over the last six years. New versions of both cars will be arriving in UK showrooms this September, with the company naturally hoping to build on the success of their predecessors. AOL Cars put the new Skoda Superb Estate through its paces in Germany's picturesque Bavarian countryside.
What is it?
This is an estate car that Skoda hopes buyers will choose with their hearts as well as their heads. In other words, because it is a genuinely desirable vehicle, not just a workhorse that ticks all the boxes when it comes to practicality. The new Superb certainly looks the part from the outside, with the sharp creases of the manufacturer's new design language, and assertive, dynamic lines giving it a near-sporty appearance – it's as if its predecessor has been to some kind of boot camp to be thoroughly beefed-up.
Inside, occupants are cocooned in a comfortable, well-designed, and light and airy cabin. And talking of space, there is simply loads of it – we've lived in smaller flats. The Superb Estate boasts the largest boot in its class – up an impressive 27 litres over its predecessor, despite the fact that the car itself is just 23mm longer. And with the rear seats down, there are almost two cubic metres to play with. Anyone fancy a trip to Ikea?
What's under the bonnet?
The launch range consists of four petrol and three diesel engines with outputs ranging from 118bhp for the entry-level diesel 1.6-litre TDI, to 276bhp for the new 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine. All engines are direct injection, turbocharged units and feature clever technology designed to increase fuel efficiency and control emissions.
Switched-on Skoda buyers will know some of the engines from the smaller Octavia, but most of the units are making their debut here, including the 267bhp 2.0-litre, which is most powerful lump currently available in any model from the manufacturer. It replaces the outgoing six-cylinder 3.6-litre V6.
What's the spec like?
The Superb Estate is available in five trim levels: S, SE, SE Business, SE L Executive and Laurin & Klement, with each one offering higher specification and equipment levels that outdo comparable models in the current line-up. Even entry-level models are well equipped, featuring alloy wheels, air conditioning, LED rear lights, Bluetooth, a DAB digital radio and a touchscreen infotainment system. The range-topping L&K model adds a touch of opulence, with striking 18-inch Pegasus anthracite alloy wheels, tri-zone climate control, a 10-speaker Canton sound system ambient lighting and full leather upholstery.
The Skoda Superb Estate is popular with fleet customers (in fact the company expects 70 per cent of sales to be fleet-based moving forward) and the brand has developed a special SE Business trim level to cater for company car drivers. It's available on both the hatch and Estate models and adds a raft of extra goodies such as upmarket Alcantara upholstery and front and rear parking sensors.
There's also a number of clever extras designed to make life with the Superb Estate that much easier. There are easy-to-reach umbrellas in both front doors, an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap, storage nets on the inside edges of the front seats, plus loads of nifty bits and pieces to help keep you and your devices connected with the outside world. And safety-wise, buyers won't be short-changed either, with more sets of initials than you can shake a stick at. ABS, EBV, MSR, ASR, EDS and RBS are all designed to keep you and your family safe.
The Ford Mondeo Estate and Mercedes E-Class Estate are both key rivals but the Skoda leaves them lagging behind in the boot space stakes and we'd argue it is as good-looking as either. Keen drivers may be more swayed by the Ford's more engaging drive, however.
What's it like to drive?
We seriously enjoyed driving this car, trying out a range of engines and they all performed capably – even the 1.4-litre petrol – although, it must be said, we weren't fully laden with the paraphernalia that many owners will be chucking into their capacious boots. The car feels at ease with itself, if that doesn't sound too silly, happy in the crowded streets of towns and cities and obviously keen to gobble up as many miles as possible when out on the open road. We loved the airy quality of the cabin, the unfussy yet well-designed dashboard and the space was a delight! As a couple of six-footers, we felt fine in the front seats, and in the back there was no shortage of legroom either.
The AOL Cars verdict
We were impressed, mightily so. We don't do stars on AOL Cars but certain other sites (no names, no pack drill) have given the Skoda Superb Estate five out of five and we'd have no quibble with such high praise. It was the lovely feeling inside the car that did it for us: the light, the visibility and the peaceful ambience thanks to the efficient and quiet engines. If you like your family cars as relaxing and stress-free as possible, the Superb Estate should definitely be on your shortlist.
Model: Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI 150PS 4x4
Engine: 2.0-litre, four cylinder, petrol, turbocharged
Power: 147bhp, 340Nm
Max speed: 132mph
0-60mph: 8.9 secs
Emissions: 123 g/km CO2
Author: Dave Brown