UK Drive: Refreshed Skoda Superb refines a winning formula
What is it?
In terms of large family saloons, the Skoda Superb has consistently been one of the most practical. With its large load capacity and plentiful passenger space, it’s consistently a great alternative to more expensive options on sale.
Now, Skoda has given the Superb a mid-life refresh – with altered styling and new equipment providing the model with enough changes to bring it in-line with current market standards. The headline for the new Superb though is the addition of a plug-in hybrid version, the iV, which will make its debut in 2020. In the meantime, we take a look at the updated Superb in stylish SportLine Plus form to see whether it continues to be an underrated choice in the large saloon market.
Skoda is debuting a series of new features on this Superb, including predictive cruise control with side assist, front assist with predictive pedestrian protection and emergency assist for multi-lane roads – with the last one being introduced in 2020.
Design tweaks have been included as well, such as the switch from the badge to the brand’s name on the rear, slimmer headlights, an altered grille and a new bumper that makes the car slightly longer. The interior also includes new trim pieces, seat covers and standard equipment, such as a touchscreen infotainment system and voice control.
What’s under the bonnet?
Six power options are split equally between petrol and diesel engines. The most powerful offering is a 269bhp petrol that comes with 350Nm of torque and four-wheel drive. Paired exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the Superb is capable of 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds.
But the engine fitted to our model was the most powerful diesel unit – a 188bhp four-cylinder engine paired to the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Along with the 400Nm of torque, the Superb can get from 0-60mph in 8.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 148mph.
With that diesel on-board, the Superb can achieve between 44.1 and 47.9mpg, with emissions of 117g/km CO2. If you’re after a long-distance cruiser with as much refinement but a little less performance, the 148bhp version of the 2.0-litre diesel might be for you. Achieving between 47.9 and 53.3mpg, it offers emissions of 103g/km CO2 – while being less than a second slower to 60mph from standstill.
What’s it like to drive?
It might not come as a surprise that, as with most other Skoda models, the Superb is a comfortable cruiser. Despite our SportLine Plus featuring 19-inch alloy wheels that did transfer some imperfections into the cabin, the Superb was supple and well-balanced in most scenarios. With our test model also featuring the sports chassis with drive mode select, there was a definite difference in feel between comfort and sport modes, especially when pressing the throttle and going through the corners.
But something you can always rely on with Skoda is a predictable setup. The steering lacks feel, but it’s direct and makes it easy to judge where you are on the road. There are definitely more invigorating cars to drive, but that’s not the point of the Superb. It’s meant to be comfortable over long distances, and it does just that excellently.
How does it look?
The Superb has never been the most exciting car to look at, going for a more professional look instead. That continues here, but the new design tweaks do make a difference. The SportLine Plus treatment gave the Superb black detailing on the grille, around the windows and rear spoiler.
The large 19-inch alloy wheels do add to the package and make the Superb look excellent, but they do compromise the ride somewhat as a lot of bumps and cracks in the road can be transferred into the cabin. The LED daytime running lights are very sharp too and add to the handsome face.
What’s it like inside?
The Superb is renowned for its spaciousness, and this updated version continues that trend. The head and legroom for everyone is excellent – even for those in the rear. The boot is, for a car of this shape and size, massive. The 625-litre load space is the best in its class and is easily the most practical saloon.
The finish is refined, with the SportLine Plus model we tried coming with Alcantara sports seats, a three-spoke multifunctional leather steering wheel, gloss black detailing and silver stitching. It may not be the most exciting interior in the world, but the seats are supportive and all the materials feel solid.
What’s the spec like?
Sitting just below the top Laurent & Klement spec, SportLine Plus offers an impressive level of equipment for its £32,815 starting price. This version of the Superb comes with a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, adaptive Matrix LED headlights, LED interior lighting, drive mode election and parking sensors.
For our test car, Skoda also applied the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument setup and blue metallic paint, as well as a temporary spare wheel. Alongside the 2.0-litre diesel engine on-board, that took its overall cost up to £36,810, which compared to similarly-sized saloons of this quality, is quite a good price still.
Skoda didn’t need to do that much to bring the Superb up to date, and here it continues to be a very smart option. Efficient, comfortable, spacious and very well-equipped for the price, the large Skoda is a truly great all-rounder.
Okay, it might not be the most exciting car to be in and drive, but for those needing a frugal long-distance cruiser, there are few that can match the Superb on its quality. We’ll have to wait and see if the hybrid can be a quality alternative to the diesel engines, but for now, the oil-burners are your best bet with the Superb.