The Superb is the flagship of the Skoda range and the third generation Superb ticks the right boxes. Almost. Skoda has some more work to do on its brand awareness, because it’s still seen as the poorer cousin to Audi and Volkswagen in the massive VW group, suspected of being a lower-grade offering.
Superb is a high-quality vehicle but that’s not enough to change that perception. Skoda’s 34 dealerships across the country are putting on a new face, with a standardised design being rolled out to make their premises more readily recognisable. For more peace of mind, buyers can pay $1699 to extend the warranty from three years to five, and pre-paid services packs for three or five years are also available.
The new Superb has an upmarket focus with three strong-performing, well-kitted-out models in sedan and wagon form. With a longer, wider and higher body and much-improved styling, Superb looks much better proportioned than the old car. Inside, the limousine-style cabin is roomy and comfortable, while the cavernous boot puts most of its rivals to shame, particularly with the excellent lift-back opening in the sedan. All the running gear, underpinnings and many of the interior fittings come from the VW Group’s latest high-tech parts bins, and Skoda has chosen well.
The model designation of each of the three variants is based on its engine’s power output, which in all cases is substantially greater than its predecessor yet with better fuel consumption. All are 2.0-litre four-cylinder, direct-injection, turbo units (two petrol versions and a diesel) with a six-speed DSG transmission.
The 162TSI (petrol) at $39,990 plus on-road costs is equipped and trimmed more like some other makes’ premium models, as is the 140TDI (diesel) at $43,990. Both are front-wheel-drive. They have autonomous emergency braking, nine airbags, a multi-collision braking system, fatigue detection, adaptive cruise control, rear-view camera, heated front seats and three-zone air-conditioning. There are also a couple of novel ideas that could prove handy: an umbrella in each of the front doors, and for the rear seat passengers a tablet holder that can be mounted in the armrest or behind the front seat headrest.
The range-topping 206TSI (petrol) at $50,990 raises the bar for performance and driveline (including all-wheel-drive), and adds a few standard features. Skoda expects the wagon, which adds $1700 to the price of each variant, to be the more popular choice, based on sales of the previous Superb.
Three option packs
Superb also has three option packs, Image, Tech and Comfort, on all models except for the 206TSI where Image pack features, such as 19-inch alloys, sports suspension, keyless start and gearshift paddles, are standard. The Tech pack includes active chassis control, blind spot assist, lane assist, rear traffic alert, traffic jam assist and auto parking. The Comfort pack is seating-related: ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, perforated-leather trim and electric front passenger seat. All this complements the already comfortable standard seats.
There is a VW family style to the presentation, with a user-friendly dash, familiar switch gear and an eight-inch touch screen incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
All three engine options provide spirited performance. The base petrol model with 162kW and 350Nm would more than satisfy the everyday needs of most buyers in this category. The 140TDI diesel is not quite as quick but makes good use of its 400Nm of torque for strong, easy-going driving, although when accelerating hard out of corners on a slippery road we noticed a slight tug on the steering, which is a characteristic of front-wheel-drive cars with plenty of grunt. The extra power and all-wheel-drive traction makes the 206TSI a fun car to drive. Peak torque of 350Nm is the same as the 162TSI but with a much wider torque band and greater flexibility.
Given the performance on tap, official fuel consumption for all three models is impressive, with no difference between sedan and wagon versions. Leading the way is the 140TDI at a low 4.8L/100km (government figure), the 162TSI only uses 6.4L/100km and for the 206TSI it is a respectable 7.3L/100km. Petrol engines require a minimum of 95 RON.
More room, better balance
Compared with the previous model, Superb’s longer wheelbase and wider track not only enable a roomier cabin but also provide a bigger footprint for better-balanced, more secure handling. Precise, well-weighted steering makes Superb easy to drive around town but with enough feel and feedback to make it enjoyable on winding roads. The ride is comfortable and well controlled but on country roads where there is more patched bitumen and bumps, you get the occasional thump and the firmness of the standard suspension becomes evident. At highway speeds the lower sports suspension, bigger wheels and all-wheel-drive give the 206TSI an even better-planted, surefooted feel. Tyre noise, however, does become more noticeable. Adaptive chassis control, which is part of the Tech pack, allows drivers to select their preferred ride and handling characteristics, with standard, comfort and sport settings.
Skoda doesn’t have the cachet of other European brands but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with its cars. Superb can live up to its name given its levels of comfort, refinement and ability.
Skoda Superb Price: $39,990
+ $3000 (est.) ORC. Metallic paint $700. Range $39,990-$50,990.
Safety: ESC. ABS. 9 airbags. Multi-collison braking. Autonomous emergency braking. Fatigue detection. Tyre pressure monitoring.
Driver features: Sat-nav. Electric driver’s seat. Xenon lights. Auto lights/wipers.
Vehicle features: Three-zone climate-control. Leather-appointed, heated front seats. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bluetooth. USB and CD slots.
Options: Wagon model $1700. Packs: Image $1700, Comfort $1500, Tech $4700.