Overall rating: 4.5/5
The Skoda Superb has always been a big value big car, but in its third incarnation it adds style and desirability into the mix. For the money, there's nothing to touch it.
In the Metal:
The Skoda Superb debuts the firm's latest design direction, and it's sharp. Where the old Superb was an entirely rational purchase, this third-generation Superb adds desirability to the mix. The tight crease along its flanks, tapering down to the neat headlamps - creating a clamshell bonnet - is a particularly bold touch, resulting in a Superb that's genuinely stand-out in its style. It's longer than before, by some 80mm in the wheelbase, though the shorter overhangs give the Superb a more convincing stance. It's easily as desirable as its mainstream rivals, but also competitors in the premium class above.
Certainly if space equates to luxury then the Superb should be considered as hugely luxurious. It's always been generously proportioned inside, and the new car builds on that. The boot is vast - accessed by a conventional hatchback now rather than the old car's innovative but ultimately unnecessary twin tailgate. It's usefully shaped too with no intrusions and it features some neat touches, including dividers that Velcro in place on the floor and a boot light that's removable and magnetic. The cabin is vast; a Harlem Globetrotter would have generous space in the back seats, as the Superb's interior is more long-wheelbase luxury car than large family hatch. Up front, the driver is faced with a simply styled dashboard that's big on functionality and ease of use and high in quality, too. Incredible at this price point.
The Skoda Superb isn't going to wow behind the wheel, but then it manages everything with a level of competence that means you're unlikely to be disappointed, either. Powered here by the familiar 150hp version of the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine that sees service throughout the Volkswagen Group portfolio, this Superb will get to 100km/h from rest in a reasonable 8.9 seconds. It's a smooth enough unit, though trying to achieve that 0-100km/h time does it no favours, as it gets more vocal at the top end of the rev range. Keep it to a maximum of around 3,000rpm - where its peak torque begins to tail off anyway - and it delivers useful, if not spectacular go. There's a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, which shifts with the familiar springy feel of so many of its Volkswagen Group cousins. It's accurate enough, the clutch similarly light and indeed all the Superb's driving controls are decently weighted, if not remarkable in their feedback.
That's true of the steering too, which sees the Superb change direction swiftly enough, but there's no information at the wheel as to how much grip's available. At ordinary speeds though the Superb's an easy, predictable drive, making it a very relaxing place to be. The suspension does a reasonable job of keeping everything comfortable at a more sedate pace, but its softness does mean some body roll in the bends, and it can get a bit bouncy and vague on country roads. It's worth the trade-off for its supple, forgiving ride at town speeds on poor surfaces, and ample comfort and refinement on the motorway.
There's a lower power 120hp 1.6 TDI offering, too, which feels a little overwhelmed by the Superb's scale. As it doesn't actually bring any economy or CO2 advantage (sharing the 150hp 2.0 TDI's 4.1 litres/100km and 108g/km figures) it's difficult to make a case for it other than its lower purchase price. Obviously, there are higher power offerings, the 2.0 TDI coming with as much as 190hp and the possibility of four-wheel drive and DSG automatics, but the 150hp 2.0 TDI is the sweet spot in the diesel range. Petrol availability is limited to two turbocharged TSI choices in 1.4- and 2.0-litre form. That 1.4 TSI delivers either 125- or 150hp, while the 2.0 TSI ups that to either 220- or 280hp. If you're after a petrol engine the 1.4 TSI 150hp is the pick of the lot. It is actually more economical than its lesser power relation thanks to cylinder-on-demand technology, helping the smooth engine deliver emissions of just 115g/km and a combined consumption figure of 4.9 litres/100km. Note that, at the time of writing, we don't know for sure which engines will be offered to Irish buyers.
What you get for your Money:
Space. The Superb really is vast. You could forgive Skoda for stopping there, but the specification list is sure to be lengthy, too. While we await Skoda Ireland's information, we expect all Superbs to come with air conditioning, alloy wheels, DAB radio, a five-inch touchscreen and a suite of safety equipment that's got more letters than a plate of alphabet spaghetti. We'll update this review once the news is in.
Always a hugely sensible choice, the new Skoda Superb now adds desirability into the mix to create a very appealing all-rounder. Indeed, there is nothing out there to match it on a size-to-Euro calculation. A Volkswagen Passat or Ford Mondeo will offer a more engaging driving experience, but the smarter, better-equipped, greater value and massively accommodating Superb is difficult to argue against on any level.