What is it
Since its introduction to the modern line up in 2001, the Superb has been the flagship model and has become the benchmark car for space, comfort and general workhorse-ness, especially if you’re a taxi driver.
However, you won’t find this 2ltr TSI 4x4 emblazoned with private hire stickers, nope, they’re reserved for the diesel models, this is a totally different animal altogether. This, dear reader is only 0.4 seconds slower to reach 60mph than the 3ltr supercharged Jaguar F-Type, and it'll keep going until it reaches its top speed of 155mph. This is the proper definition of the term Q-car.
I’ve only ever driven two Superbs, this one and the hatch version of the 2.0ltr TSI 280ps 4x4, and, apart from better fuel economy, I see no other reason why I should drive the mere diesel versions. Forgetting its ability to attract speeding tickets for a moment, just like the engine and gearbox combo, the Superb’s ride is quiet and smooth, especially once you’ve switched the optional adaptive dampers to Comfort, and let it waft you along on the (mostly) magic carpet ride.
Flicking the suspension mode to Sport, it becomes a different beast. There’s still body roll but it isn’t offensive, and the steering has attracted slight criticism for being a little dull, personally I thought it was great, but I’m used to lumbering 4x4s, not performance cars. For those of us who want to fine tune the handling characteristics you can mix-and-match the setting using Individual mode.
You’ll be hard-pressed to get it to wheel spin, even on wet roads as the 4wd systems works incredibly well. Around corners it gives you a lot of confidence as it’s so sure footed, and that 280ps on tap to accelerate out, leaves you with a massive grin. It's easy to drive quickly, maybe too easy for some!
Of course I didn’t take it too far off the beaten track, our ‘off-road’ forays were limited to grassy slopes, forestry tracks and the odd cobbled green lane, and it handled them like it was at Sainsbury’s car park. Its lack of decent ground clearance dictates that it’s more at home cruising along on tarmac, but when driving along sloppy, muddy ruts, its all wheel drive system worked effortlessly, not a hint of wheel spin nor struggle.
Maybe a Subaru is more suited if you really need 4x4 ability due to their ground clearance, but when compared to the Levorg, I’d definitely have the Superb.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Superb’s interior, it’s massive, comfortable, quiet and, just to repeat, it's bloomin' massive! I collected a fridge/freezer for young Keiran and I swear I could actually hear it laugh at me (the car, not the fridge), and sneer....
"Is that it?"
"A poxy fridge/freezer?
"C’mon, you can do better than that!"
The Superb estate is simply cavernous, in the back there’s 660ltrs of space or 1,950ltrs with the rear seats folded down.
There’s a but...
It isn’t a huge ‘but’, but it’s a ‘but’ none the less - I really wish that the dash layout was better. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice and all that, but to match the Superb’s performance and top-of-the-range-ness, I wanted it to sparkle, to be a little more special, if you know what I mean. If you categorise the Superb as at working car, a taxi for instance, then there’s nothing at all wrong with it, it’s straight forward and functional. As I said, it’s a small ‘but’ and it wouldn’t stop me from buying one.
Oh and one other little niggle, like all the other Skodas that I’ve driven recently, I can’t fit my Contigo travel mug in the centre cup holders, they’re too narrow, though I found it does fit in the door panel; inconvenient, but tolerable.
Engines ’n’ transmissions
Must I talk about the other engines? I suppose I should.
The range consists of four TSI petrol and three TDI diesel units with outputs ranging from 120PS for the entry-level diesel 1.6 TDI, to 280PS for the new 2.0 TSI engine. All engines are turbocharged and feature the very latest advances in fuel efficiency and emission controls. In addition, all engines feature direct fuel injection (combined with indirect injection in the 2.0 TSI) and maintenance-free valve trains.
1.4 TSI 125PS
The Superb’s entry-level petrol engine combines high efficiency with exceptional dynamic characteristics. The 1.4 TSI 125 PS engine returns 52.3mpg on the combined cycle. Compared to the entry-level petrol engine of its predecessor, the improvement in fuel consumption is more than 12 per cent. This variant comes with a manual six-speed gearbox as standard.
1.4 TSI 150PS
The more powerful 1.4 TSI 150 PS variant returns 57.7mpg on the combined cycle and has CO2 emissions of 115g/km (Hatch) – an improvement over the outgoing unit of 30 per cent. This substantial improvement in both fuel efficiency and emission reduction has been made possible by the introduction of active cylinder technology (ACT) that allows the second and third cylinders to temporarily shut down.
2.0 TSI 220PS
The 2.0 TSI 220PS engine is equipped with a automatic six-speed DSG transmission as standard and returns 45.6mpg on the combined cycle. It emits 143g/km of CO2 and develops a maximum torque of 350Nm between 1,500 and 4,000rpm. Peak power of 220PS is between 4,500 and 6,200 rpm – and provides enough acceleration to take the Hatch model from 0- 62mph in just 7.0 seconds.
2.0 TSI 280PS
My favourite, obviously, is the range-topping petrol engine is the turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0 TSI 280PS unit. Fitted with an automatic six-speed DSG transmission and permanent all-wheel drive as standard, this newly developed powertrain replaces the 3.6 FSI V6 260 PS as the top petrol variant. And even though I often drove it like a hooligan, it still achieved around 39mpg.
1.6 TDI 120PS
The Superb’s entry-level 1.6 TDI 120PS diesel engine perfectly combines refinement with flexibility and low running costs. Compared to the previous 1.6 TDI unit, the new engine has 15PS more power, while fuel consumption is improved by up to 17 per cent. The 1.6 TDI 120PS is available with a manual six-speed gearbox or an automatic seven-speed DSG transmission.
2.0 TDI 150PS
The mid-range diesel in the new Superb delivers more power, better economy and lower emissions than the outgoing engine. The 2.0 TDI 150PS returns 68.9mpg on the combined cycle and emits just 108g/km of CO2 (Hatch). In the manual version, this Superb is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive models are also available with dual-clutch DSG transmission.
2.0 TDI 190PS
The most powerful diesel engine in the range, the 2.0 TDI 190PS delivers an impressive 400Nm of torque between 1,750 and 3,250rpm. At the same time, consumption and emissions are reduced by about 14 per cent compared to the previous engine.
I suppose I really should have cleaned it for the photos, but this was one press car that was used everyday and as often as possible, we loved it. Muddy Madam loved the comfort, the space and the overall feel, whilst I was captivated with its turn of speed, handling and sheer size and load space. I loved it so much that I drove three hours to Wales just to make a brew next to a reservoir.
It was effortless and I just wanted to drive it more.
For £33,970, plus extras of course, the Superb Estate SE L Executive 2.0ltr TSI 280ps 4x4 with DSG, to give it its full title, is a true 5-star car, for practicality, fun and value for money, and in my opinion they don’t get much better.