Car Test   R0277
November 2002
  Skoda Superb
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.8 T Comfort Saloon
Contrary to what others may have told you, the Octavia was never really an upper-medium, Mondeo/Passat-sized rival, but a Golf with an extended boot.
   Now that the Superb has arrived, with its 481cm overall length (10cm more than the Passatís), the Skoda knack of straddling establishes market sectors is repeated; this time itís as bulky as a large executive model, like the Audi A6, but has a price that competes with the Mondeo and Passat.
   But can lowly Skoda really produce the quality and sophistication that these upper-crust executive models exude? After a week with the car and a close look at its credentials, we can report that, in most respects, weíre convinced that the Superb makes the grade.
   When you look at the Classic version, you may feel that itís not quite plush enough; yet its inventory of standard equipment is extremely impressive.
   Move up to Comfort trim and youíve landed in the lap of luxury, however. It costs a not insignificant £1700 extra, but with the Superb in this guise, we defy anyone to tell it apart from an Audi, in terms of fit and finish.
   Furthermore, all those wickedly expensive executive-brand options (including metallic paintwork), come as standard on the Superb, at this level. Despite this, the price undercuts even some more ordinary non-executive rivals, when you consider the power units and performance on offer.
   Which engine to choose in the Superb is a poser because thereís a very strong line-up. At around our test carís price, thereís a 48mpg/130bhp-diesel option, while a further £2700 will secure the fabulous Audi-sourced six-speed V6 diesel that provides sublime 40mpg motoring.
   Nevertheless, this light-pressure-turbo petrol (also seen in the Octavia as well as the Golf GTi and several others) is one of our favourite VW Group power plants.
   The rivals table shows just how convincing are its performance and economy, compared with illustrious rivals Ė especially when you remember that the Superb is Ďa big motorí.
   Apart from a thrummy note that sets in past 60mph, itís also such a sweet-running, undemanding unit at lower speed; we guarantee youíll change gear less in this Superb, unless youíre in a real hurry.
   Thereís little to criticise in terms of its cornering attitude, either Ė except that the steering is a shade woolly and inert from straight ahead.
   Likewise, the Superbís bump-absorbing ability is good without being remarkable, although excellent seat support, with plenty of adjusters up front leave few complaints about comfort.
   The rear is spacious for two, but the seat is fixed, so adaptability is poor, though boot security is even more assured, for the same reason.
   There are practical touches, however, such as an umbrella, complete with a drainer, in the rear door and substantial shopping bag hooks in the boot, that hinge down when needed. And you can also take your skis with you, inside the car.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
  • metallic paint and parking sensors at no extra cost
  • good heating/ventilating at rear - discrete outlets
  • hooks for bags in boot
  • thoughful illumination of interior floor/exterior
  • non-tilting back seats
  • non-removable, obstructive rear head restraints
  • prominent boot sill - restricted aperture
  • hard-to-read dials in poor daylight
This larger, executive-saloon sector is heavily laced with image as a dominant factor in the decision-making process. You know all those TV ads about what you arrive in, as you take your slot in the managerial car park; clearly Skoda is still the wrong badge to be associated with, to those for whom image is important. However, if youíre unconcerned about such trifles, Skoda is offering you a bargain; Audi accommodation, engines and build-quality for Mondeo money.

engine 1781cc, 4-cylinder petrol; 150bhp at 5700rpm, 155 lb ft at 1750rpm; belt-driven double overhead camshafts, 20 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front wheel drive; 23.2mph/1000rpm in 5th, 18.9 in 4th
suspension front: independent damper/struts, integral coil springs
rear: torsion beam (dead) axle, compound links, coil springs
  steering hydraulic power assistance; 2.8 turns lock-to-lock; 11.4m diameter turning circle between kerbs (16.2m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear, with standard anti-lock and (optional extra) brake-assist, integral with stability control on test car   wheels/tyres 7in alloy with 205/55R16W tyres (Dunlop on test car); fully-size steel spare

size and type large/executive four-door saloon   trim levels Classic, Comfort, Elegance
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/2.0 litre/115bhp, 4/1.8 Turbo/150, V6/2.8/193; diesel: 4/1.9/100, 4/1.9/130, V6/2.5/155 (all turbo Di)   drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual (6-speed for 2.5 TDi); 5-speed stepped auto for both V6's optional

HOW THE SUPERB 1.8T SALOON COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Skoda Superb 1.8 T 4/1781/150 3020 8.2 14.9/20.1 34/199 13/26.5 109 107/85 2.8/11.4 480
Ford Mondeo 2.0 4/1999/145 3120 8.6 17.5/26.3 33/194 19/25 111 108/84 2.8/11.3 473
VW Passat 1.8 T Sport 4/1781/150 3060 8.4 15.0/20.8 34/199 14/26 110 101/74 2.8/11.0 470
Volvo S60 2.0 TS 4/1984/180 2880 8.4 15.3/20.0 30/220 16/25 115 98/73 3.0/11.5 458
BWM 520i 6/1991/150 3280 9.8 19.7/26.9 33/216 18/23.5 116 103/76 3.0/11.0 478
Jaguar X-Type 2.0 6/2099/157 3140 10.3 17.8/26.0 29/219 18/25.5 110 100/75 2.7/10.8 467

Nice gearchange but a medium-weight clutch. Poor over-the-shoulder vision redeemed by parking sensors. Optimistic speedo, but precise cruise control and excellent front seats with ample adjustments.
Steering lacks precision from straight-ahead but (with stability control option) our car proved stable and reassuring when hustled - if (like us) you don't mind some cornering roll. Gentlemanly.
Better ride than a Passat or an Audi A6 - quite absorbent; yet 'in touch'. Some engine thrum, but wonderfully tractable. Good wind sealing and low road noise. Back seat sumptuous - for two - as there's a big centre tunnel.

Marvellous, diesel-like urgency of response from low speed makes hill climbing or overtaking effortless. Makes the PD130 diesel less desirable, if you like refinement.
  acceleration in seconds through gears* 3rd gear 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 4.2 5.1 8.8 13.4
  30-50mph 3.2 4.9 7.1 10.2
  40-60mph 4.1 5.2 7.3 9.1
  50-70mph 5.0 5.2 7.8 9.9
  30-70mph 8.2 10.1 14.9 20.1
  max speed in each gear (* using 6000rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th*      5th
     speed (mph)      31      53.5      82      113      134 (5775rpm)

Excellent result for such a large saloon - good on the motorway, too. Filler released from driver's door and remaining range shown on (standard) trip computer that's reliable.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 20
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 28
    motorway (70mph cruising) 35
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 33.5
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 39
    overall mpg 34
    realistic tank capacity/range 55/410
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 24.6/43.5/34.0
    CO2 emissions 199g/km
    car tax band E

Four airbags on all versions, plus four self-tensioning belts. The standard ABS feels rather over-servoed, even when the pedal is depressed gradually; handbrake is effective, however.
  from 50mph (with brake-assist/ABS)
This model has not yet been
tested by EURO NCAP
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     29m
sudden 13kg     26.5m best stop
+ 4kg 17kg     27m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

Lots of space, but (like most saloons) the Superb lacks flexibility when it comes to contending with odd shaped impedimenta or pets - not even a folding back seat.
  in centimetres (4-door saloon)
  length 480
  width - including mirrors 190
    - mirrors folded 177
  height 147
  load sill height (inside/outside) 18/73
  turns lock-to-lock 2.8
  turning circle (metres) 11.4
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 84-109
    - headroom 96-107ß
  rear - typical legroom 107
    - typical kneeroom 85
    - headroom 94
    - hiproom 130
  load areanull
  load space (all seats in use)(litres/cu ft) 545/19.2
  load length 100#
  load width 100-137
  load height 51
# plus ski bag  ß with sunroof

International security register access provided free for three years; alarm, deadlocks standard on all versions. The doors auto-lock as you drive off and 'see-me-home' headlights are also a feature.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior)  
self-locking (static and drive-off)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
see-me-home headlights   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of" not available
NCSR - "theft from" not available
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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