Skoda Superb Estate
The latest Skoda Superb Estate offers huge amounts of space in a stylish and comfortable package
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Rear passengers are treated to limo-like amounts of legroom, too, while an optional full-length panoramic glass roof, with a retractable section at the front, boosts the light and airy feel.
It leaves behind the frumpy styling of its predecessor, with the same chiseled front end as the Hatchback, a steeply raked rear windscreen and a gently sloping roof line. Pointed, wraparound LED taillights have a hint of Audi A4 Avant in them, but overall it’s a fresh and modern design.
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The latest VW Group engines are available too, ranging from a 123bhp 1.4 TSI right up to a 276bhp 2.0 TSI in the petrol line up, although it’s the diesels – stretching from a 118bhp 1.6 TDI (emitting as little as 105g/km) to a 187bhp 2.0 TDI – that make most sense.
There’s a choice of manual and DSG gearboxes and on the more powerful models the option of four-wheel drive. All the latest technology is offered including lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, park assist and Smart Link compatible with Apple and Android smart phones.
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Five trim levels are offered – S, SE, SE Business, SE L Executive and Laurin & Klement – with even entry-level models getting 16-inch alloys and a five-inch touchscreen. At the top of the range the L&K models get 18-inch wheels, leather trim, an eight-inch screen with sat-nav and a 10-speaker stereo.
Engines, performance and drive
Compared to the Superb hatchback, the driving experience in the Estate is virtually identical. There’s a fraction more body roll in fast corners, but then the Superb is no sports car, so don’t let that put you off.
The steering is light and precise, but you can add more weight (as well as sharpen throttle and DSG gearbox shift times) by toggling up through the various driving modes – Comfort, Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual.
Stick with the standard six-speed manual gearbox and the shift action is effortless, without a mm of slack, but the £1,400 DSG gearbox does add another layer of sophistication.
Refinement is particularly impressive – even at 100mph on a German Autobahn you can have a conversation with you passengers without raising your voice. The suspension is supple by default, but can be tightened up if you order the optional adaptive dampers. Even in Sport mode, though, the Superb floats along on all but the worst surfaces, cocooning passengers form the outside world.
Fling it around and the body control is a little loose, but that’s not what it’s designed for. The 1.4 TSI engine is smooth and virtually silent and comes with 123bhp or 148bhp, plus there’s a range-topping 276bhp 2.0 TSI 4x4, but it’s the diesel that make the most sense.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
Although not available from launch, a Greenline model will be available from 2016 with sub 100g/km CO2 emissions.
For the time being then, the cleanest model in the range is the 118bhp 1.6 TDI with a seven-speed DSG gearbox, returning economy and CO2 emissions of 70.6mpg and 105g/km respectively.
However, a whole host of other diesel models aren’t far behind that, including our pick – the 148bhp 2.0 TDI – that manages 68.9mpg and 109g/km. Order the same engine with a DSG gearbox and that falls to 61.4mpg and 121g/km. However, even the 187bhp 2.0 TDI 4x4 DSG model returns 55.4mpg and 135g/km.
With fleet expected to make up the majority of Superb sales, BIK rates are crucial. The model with the lowest BIK rate is in fact the 148bhp 1.4 TSI petrol that returns 55.4mpg and 119g/km, with BIK of 18 per cent.
All Superbs come with a three-year, 60,000 miles warranty, and are available with a variety of fixed-price servicing packs to help manage costs.
Interior, design and technology
According to Skoda the previous generation Superb Estate outsold the Hatchback because it didn’t look quite so awkward – in reality, neither of them were lookers.
This time around however, both models are genuinely desirable in their own right. The Estate shares its sharp front end, with headlight details inspired by Czech crystal, with the hatchback, but the rear is all-new. The gently sloping roof line and steeply raked rear wind screen are both beautifully designed and help to hide its 4,856mm length well – in other words it looks nicely proportioned. Super-sharp creases run right along the sides, giving the design a modern architectural quality, while the wraparound rear taillights have a hint of Audi A4 Avant about their pointed inner edge. Top-spec models get 18-inch alloys as standard (19-inch wheels are optional), that look fantastic and fortunately don’t spoil the ride.
On the inside the overall design is more basic, with a rectangular touchscreen, ranging from five to eight inches in size, in the middle of the dash and a series of simple horizontal trim pieces emphasising the car’s width.
All the controls are where you’d expect them to be, however, and feel solid to the touch. In fact, all the cabin materials are top notch – not quite on a par with its MQB platform-based sister car, the VW Passat, but robust and built to last nonetheless.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
In terms of numbers, the Superb Estate is head and shoulders above the rest of the class. In fact, with boot space of 660-litres (27-litres more than its predecessor), or 1,950-litres with the rear seats folded down it’s got more room back there than the Mercedes E-Class Estate from the class above.
The boot can accommodate long objects up to 3.3m in length, too, if you fold the front passenger seat forward. It’s the way that Skoda has made all that space so useable that really impresses, though.
For example, the edges of the tailgate (electrically-powered as an option, or standard on top-spec models) are pushed right to the outer edges of the car making the opening massively wide, with a low loading lip.
The rear seats fall forward automatically via a pair of levers in the boot, and the expansive loading are can be configured in a variety of ways using Velcro luggage dividers, a variety of shopping bag hooks and an optional moveable false floor.
The interior is also covered with clever solutions to make your life easier, including an ice-scraper in the fuel filler cap, umbrellas slotted into the front doors and grippy cup holders so you can unscrew the cap with one hand. An iPad cradle can be clipped into the back of the front headrests, or between the rear seats, and even the very tallest passengers will have leg and headroom to spare.
Reliability and Safety
The Superb is the first Skoda to be based on the VW Group’s modular MQB platform (the VW Passat, Audi A3 and SEAT Leon all use versions of the same chassis), which brings with it the benefits of producing components and engines on a huge scale.
The new Superb is also the most technologically advanced and safest Skoda ever built with a vast range of electronic safety systems. These include blind spot detection, to prevent you changing lanes when another car is there, and Lane Assist that nudges the steering wheel automatically to keep you within the lines in your lane.
Lane Assist works with the adaptive cruise control system for the Traffic Jam Assist function that accelerates, brakes and steers the car for you in jams. Rear Traffic Alert warns you, then brakes the car if something is coming, when you’re reversing out of a parking bay.