Skoda Superb S 1.6 TDI CR (Greenline III)
Subtle styling tweaks signal arrival of latest generation Superb
- Spacious cabin is well built and refined
- Better level of standard kit than most rivals
- Refined driving experience challenges the best efforts of more expensive rivals
- Vast rear load space is versatile, practical and rarely beaten
- Low key updates do little to enhance the Superb's modest exterior
- Don't expect small engine capacity variants to be especially brisk
- Automated parking assistance technology isn't foolproof
- Short owners will struggle to reach the extremes of the car's load deck
This third-generation Superb is a perfect example of how much the company has achieved in a few short years. Although the latest round of improvements are modest, it proves how good the car's fundamental attributes are.
As with any modern Skoda, the basic premise remains the same: value for money, spacious cabin. Being a mid-life update this third-generation Superb isn't hugely different from its predecessor. What has changed, though, is the adoption of subtle exterior styling cues to mirror that of the all-new Octavia.
A key attraction to the Superb range is the fact it trumps more expensive cars when it comes to cabin space. Specifically, rear seat occupants are presented with an abundance of legroom to rival that of a limousine. As such, the Superb has become a firm favourite with the private hire community.
This is also true of the estate variant, which offers a vast amount of load space to compliment its capacious cabin. Putting the likes of BMW, Audi and Volvo to shame for a lot less money, Skoda's Superb wagon is the go-to car if you need the flexibility to transport goods and people at the same time - especially if it has to be done on a modest budget.
Factor in a wide choice of engines, from the modest to the decadent in petrol and diesel form, plus all-wheel drive on selected models and it's easy to see why the Superb has become a firm favourite of financially savvy buyers.
Our verdict on the Skoda Superb S 1.6 TDI CR (Greenline III)
The changes are modest but this latest Superb estate is proof that a sensibly priced, well equipped and spacious non-German large estate car can succeed in a crowded market. It's not just the VW Group levels of build quality and attention to detail that impress, but the competence of the complete package - a rare thing in today's market.
On of the Superb's main selling points is its ability to undercut the competition. While Skoda slowly moves upmarket and that gap has narrowed, the big estate car remains a steal when in the company of high price German rivals. Opting for diesel power should ensure meaningful running cost savings.
Space and practicality
Few things come close to the Superb estate when it comes to space. At least, not for the same money. Powered tailgate or not, access to the load area is easy, and the ability to fold the rear seats improves carrying capacity to an impress 1,865 litres. Bolstered by a sturdy load cover, you'll want for little in this department. It's the same good news story for occupants, with acres of space fore and aft plus a good smattering of oddment storage options.
Controls and display
The convention and operation of the Superb's controls and displays should be familiar to fans of the Skoda brand. Well thought out, clear and intuitive, from the main dials to the ventilation controls it's difficult to find fault. When fitted, even the large touchscreen sat-nav display proves easy to navigate.
With its long wheelbase, supportive seats and compliant suspension capable of expertly dealing with all manner of poorly surfaced roads, occupants fore and aft are unlikely to feel uncomfortable in the Superb. Factor in high levels of soundproofing and it's clear that Skoda's engineers have succeeded in creating a luxury ambience at an affordable price point.
For al the car's impressive abilities, don't expect a miracle here, as it's the usual items such as remote central locking, alarm and an immobiliser package that will keep your pride and joy safe. Belongings in the back are shielded from prying eyes by a sturdy load cover for added peace of mind.
With numerous airbags and electronic stability systems to keep you safe the Superb is up there with the best in its class. There's even the option of headlamps that follow the direction you steer in, and change their beam pattern depending on the presence of oncoming traffic to improve visibility.
Skoda has never promoted the Superb as a car for keen drivers, more a refined, competent and relaxing conveyance. As such, direct steering, progressive brakes and good all-round visibility all help its cause. Diesel engines and their abundance of torque suit the Superb best although you need to be patient if you opt for the eco-friendly Greenline model as progress isn't that swift. Conversely, the six-cylinder petrol variant sporting all-wheel drive is unlikely to lure people away from their Audis and BMWs anytime soon. Thankfully the estate car's extra bulk fails to impact on the driving experience.
Family car appeal
It's no people carrier in the conventional sense, but the Superb does offer an unusually spacious cabin. That said, the car's various plush fittings might be at odds with the sticky fingers of young children and the messy paws of the family dog, although there's no shortage of space for Fido in the boot. And he'd still have ample room alongside pushchairs, shopping and even a bicycle.
First car appeal
Light and easy to use controls make life behind the wheel straightforward and, where fitted, parking sensors remove uncertainty. There is the issue of the car's size, which could prove too intimidating for some novice drivers.
Quality and image
The integrity of the cabin and the fittings are first rate put many more expensive cars to shame. Too bad there is still resistance in some quarters regarding the car's image. Badge snobs would do well to examine Skoda's current line-up, as the improvements are significant.
As you'd expect from a car of this size, the Superb's doors fore and aft open wide to reveal easy to reach seats. Headroom is also good throughout the cabin. At the rear, the car's tailgate opens wide from a low lip position, making loading straightforward. There's even a powered option for added convenience. You will have to stretch to reach the distance corners of the car's vast load area, though.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
From the basic but more than acceptable CD and radio combination to the hi-tech full colour, touchscreen sat-nav and multimedia system, there's a level of entertainment to suit ever pocket. The touch-screen sat-nav unit is versatile and easy to use and the oversize option is even better. Supplementary buttons on the steering wheel are a welcome addition. Sound quality is good, too.
Colours and trim
Given the Superb's premium auru, it looks best in traditional colours such as sliver or dark metallics. This is especially true if you wish to flatter the estate car's bulk. Inside, everything looks and feels durable and attractive. Cabin brightwork is minimal and suits the car's modest personality. Leather does much to lift the otherwise somber ambience.
Leaving aside the estate car's size, thanks to light but direct steering and a smooth throttle the Superb is not difficult to manoeuvre. Parking sensors make life much easier, although the oft-promoted self-parking option remains far from foolproof - sometimes it's still quicker to do it yourself.
Space saver fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.4-litre (125bhp); 1.8-litre (160bhp); 3.6-litre V6 (260bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.6-litre (105bhp); 2.0-litre (140bhp, 170bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, six and seven-speed DSG depending on engine choice. All-wheel drive is an option on selected variants. Trim levels: S, SE, Elegance, Laurent and Klement.
Ford Mondeo Benchmark for the keen driver and a good all-rounder but getting on a bit
Mazda6 Classy and competent all-rounder lacks the heritage of the Mondeo or space of the Superb
Volkswagen Passat Affordable premium saloon is very good but Superb can do it all for less cash
Vauxhall Insignia Polished mainstream alternative drives well but Superb trumps it on space