Skoda’s third-generation Superb reached New Zealand a few months ago. I attended the launch event in Wellington and was impressed with the quality and features. Now, the wagon version has arrived and Skoda were keen to get us one to test. The two cars featured at the launch at Gazley in Wellington were sold before the event, and a similar thing happened with our test car. We had a white 206kW lined up but a customer came in and bought it on the spot the day before the test! Fortunately there was a second demo available for us in a similar spec.
There are three specs available in New Zealand, starting with the $49,900 1.8t FWD version with 132kW/250Nm. $59,900 gets you the 2.0l TDI 4WD with 140kW and 400Nm, and finally there’s the $64,900 2.0l TSI 4WD tested here, with an impressive 206kW/350Nm. That’s only 16kW/30Nm short of the more expensive and lower-specced Golf R Wagon, which is based on the same MQB platform.
All three specs feature a 5 star NCAP safety rating, ESC, ABS and Hill Hold, front, rear, side curtain and driver’s knee airbags, auto lights and wipers, auto city braking, driver alert system, cruise control and speed limiter, cornering foglights, heated electric folding side mirrors with auto dimming and rain sensors, roof rails, parking sensors all round and rear camera, electric tailgate, heated front seats, wireless phone charging, and a selection of clever boot organisers and covers. Quite a list! And it grows with the higher specs, adding blind spot detection, KESSY keyless entry and start, ambient lighting, adaptive cruise, Satnav, upgraded sound system, colour dash display and more.
The Superb is a handsome looking wagon. I like the direction Skoda’s design language is taking, with angular lines and interesting details. It doesn’t really stand out though. It’s smart and modern, but somehow a little, well, bland I suppose. It got a few positive comments from people in car parks, and one person asked if it was a Merc, “because it looks like one”. I do like the LED rear lights and the L-shaped LED DRLs integrated into the headlights.
Personally I wouldn’t have gone for the silver, there are fourteen colours to choose from including black, which looks great on these cars, a couple of blues, and two reds. There are two whites too which also really suit the Superb’s looks.
Inside, the Superb is rather nice. The leather seats are comfortable and supportive, and I like the way they look. The dash is a fairly simple layout, with the usual Skoda/VW large central screen with a proper volume knob, and buttons for the main functions of the entertainment system. It has a feature where it detects when you put your hand near the bottom of the screen and the controls on the screen react, button areas growing bigger and easier to press, for example.
There’s a large air-conditioned glovebox, and the central storage bin is also air conditioned. In the front there’s dual-zone climate, with a third zone adjustable by rear-seat passengers.
The Superb has an ambient lighting strip which runs along the middle of the dash and along the doors, lighting up in green by default, but red or amber can be specified. And it runs through the back doors.
There’s the familiar Skoda instrument setup of two white-lit dials, with a colour Maxidot display in the centre. This can be used to show a huge variety of information – satnav directions, music track, road speed, tyre pressures, following distance, the list goes on. This is all set up using the steering wheel-mounted buttons and thumb jog-wheels and is intuitive to use. The wheel is nicely shaped, leather-clad and comfortable to hold, and there are shifter paddles behind if you want to shift the six-speed DSG transmission manually.
Both front seats have electrical adjustment, with three memory settings on the driver’s side. There’s footwell illumination front and rear, which enhances the luxury feel of the cabin, and a storage bin hidden in the front of the passenger seat. Heated front seats are a fairly standard thing these days, but the top spec Superb has heated rears as well.
Sitting in the rear makes you wonder how they have managed to fit so much into this car. The rear leg room is huge! And they haven’t sacrificed boot space to get it, with 619 litres available for storage, and a huge 1909 litres with the seats folded. As well as being massive, the boot has lots of accessories included: luggage tie-down loops, cargo net, plastic/velcro holders to keep things in place, several bag hooks on the sides, first-aid kit in a cubby. There’s a pull-out load cover, a kind of hook-on hammock for putting things in, and a pull-out net which fastens from the back of the seats to the ceiling to keep your stuff from flying forward from the boot. Cleverly, it also works when the seats are folded down to provide a barrier right behind the front seats.
The boot has motorised opening and closing, operated from a button by the shifter, the remote, a button on the boot, or if your hands are full, by kicking your foot under the rear bumper.
There are so many clever additions everywhere – pockets in the sides of the front seats, a clip on the A pillar to hold car park tickets, a slot that can hold an iPad in place vertically in the centre cubby, an ice scraper inside the petrol cap, and the pièce de résistance – an umbrella hidden inside each front door.
We’ve established that the Superb is a lovely and well-equipped place to sit, but how does it drive? It has several drive modes – Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and a Custom setting. The Superb has the same adaptive damping system used in the Golf R, so driving modes do alter the ride as well as the engine response and acceleration. As this is Skoda’s luxury car, the ride is mostly tuned for comfort, and I found it a little “floaty” in all but Sport mode. For me, Sport gave the right balance of cornering feel and firmness. But for normal driving, having the transmission in Sport is a bit over-revvy, so I found myself selecting Sport, then putting the shifter back to D. The setting is remembered each time you get back into the car so once you have it how you want you’re good to go.
Acceleration is impressive at 5.8s to 100kph, and with 350Nm of torque from the turbocharged 2.0l, mid-range acceleration is good too. There’s a lovely growl as you get up high in the rev range, The Superb handles well, the 4×4 system giving you the confidence to take corners with some enthusiasm. I sort of wish it had the same Race mode as the Golf R, which gave a much firmer ride and a wonderful pop and crackle on lifting off the throttle, but the Superb isn’t that sort of car. It’s much more of a sleeper.
The steering is decent – light at parking speeds with a bit more weight when driving at speed. Like most systems in the Superb I found that it just worked as I expected. I find that with most assistance systems in cars that you tend not to really notice them if they are doing their job well. One thing that did catch my attention a few times was the auto wipers, which didn’t always quite work as I wanted, and I found myself clearing the screen manually. Another was the engine stop/start which was just a little too enthusiastic, stopping engine just before the car came to a halt. A nice feature I noticed was that if the wipers are on and the Superb is put into reverse, it automatically wipes the back window. It also turns down the stereo when you’re in reverse, something scientifically proven to help you see better!
There are parking sensors all-round which connect to a visual display showing where any obstacles are, as well as a reversing camera. This all links in with the Park Assist system, which can automatically park the car for you either parallel or perpendicularly. Hit the button by the shifter and as you drive, the Superb looks for a suitable space, which it will show you on the Maxidot display, also displaying instructions on how to use the system. The car does the steering and directs you to do the accelerator, brake and gear shifts. The system works really well, and after a couple of practices I was able to use it quickly to take the effort out of parallel parking.
There’s radar cruise control, which works very well for taking the stress out of driving in heavy traffic by maintaining a gap between you and the car in front, coming to a complete stop where necessary, just needing a tap of the throttle to set off again. Despite being a step towards driverless cars this is something I really like, because for now at least, you can let the car do some of the boring stuff, leaving you refreshed when you get to the fun roads.
The Superb was very fast at re-connecting to the Bluetooth on my phone, and always picked up where it had left off. I’ve found recently that a few cars don’t do this so well. There’s a cubby at the bottom of the centre console with a retractable cover which features inductive charging for your phone. A feature that’s often a cost option on most cars. There are charging sockets too, plus USB and aux inputs. The 10-speaker Canton stereo system in the 206kW Superb is very good, featuring a subwoofer and digital equaliser, and giving great quality and bass.
There’s a lot to like about the Superb. The size and space, performance, build quality, equipment levels. Then there’s the price. At $66,400 it represents excellent value. It’s hard to find direct competition for the Superb. Most cars with similar performance and equipment cost a lot more.
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||Fuel L/100km||0-100km/h||Price Highest to Lowest|
|VW Golf R Wagon||2.0l 4 cyl turbo petrol||221kW/380Nm||7.0||5,1s||$79,990|
|BMW 320i||2.0l 4 cyl turbo petrol||135kW/270Nm||5.9||7.5s||$75,000|
|Volvo V60 T5 R Design||2.0l 4 cyl turbo petrol||180kW/350Nm||6.4||6.4s||$74,900|
|VW Passat R-Line Wagon||2.0l 4 cyl turbo petrol||206kW/350Nm||7.2||7.9s||$70,990|
|Holden Calais Wagon||3.6l 6 cyl||210kW/350Nm||9.0||N/A||$68,990|
|Mercedes CLA200 Shooting Brake||1.6l 4 cylinder turbo petrol||115kW/250Nm||5.7||8.2s||$67,400|
|Skoda Superb Wagon||2.0l 4 cyl turbo petrol||206kW/350Nm||7.1||5.8s||$66,400|
|Mazda 6 Limited Wagon||2.2l 4 cyl twin turbo petrol||129kW/420Nm||5.4||N/A||$58,245|
|Subaru Levorg Wagon||2.0 4 cyl turbo petrol||197kW/350Nm||8.7||6.6s||$56,990|
|Ford Mondeo Titanium Wagon||2.0l 4 cyl turbo petrol||177kW/345Nm||8.5||N/A||$55,190|
The pros and cons
What we think
I really didn’t want to hand the Superb back, it’s my sort of car – good looking but not too flash, fast, but doesn’t shout about it, well equipped, spacious and practical. It compares well in lots of ways to cars costing significantly more. And it’s a sleeper in a few ways – performance, equipment levels and quality. You really should check it out, I highly recommended it.
Rating – Chevron rating 5 out of 5
|Vehicle Type||Large station wagon|
|Engine||1984cc turbocharged petrol engine, high-pressure direct injection system|
|Transmission||Automatic 6-speed DSG|
|0 – 100 kph||5.8 seconds|
|Kerb Weight||1635 kg|
|Length x Width x Height||4856 x 1864 x 1477 mm|
|Cargo Capacity||619 Litres with seats up|
1909 Litres with seats down
|Fuel Tank||66 litres|
|Fuel Efficiency||Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.1L / 100km|
Real World Test – Combined – 10.4L / 100km
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 stars|
|Warranty||3 years / 100,000km|