It's mid-life facelift time for the Skoda Superb and, along with subtle cosmetic updates to the exterior, new engines are joining the range. Skoda is also introducing a plug-in hybrid model that will go on sale in 2020, but for now we're looking at the popular diesel version, and in particular, the new 2.0 TDI Evo engine, tested here in Combi estate guise.
In the metal
Design changes focus on sharpening up the visual appeal at either end of the Superb. LED headlights now become standard fit, and range-topping models get LED matrix headlight tech that can provide higher levels of illumination at night while avoiding dazzling other road users by deactivating segments of light on the move.
Slimmer LED fog lights become more of a design feature in the new-look lower front bumper with a thin chrome strip linking them together, while the grille features double-bar elements to emphasise the more purposeful image. The LED daytime running light design also now meets up with the grille.
Following Skoda's more recent models, like the Kamiq and Scala, the Skoda name is now spelt out across the rear of the Superb in place of the brand logo. A chrome strip runs across the back, too, joining the updated rear lights. Skoda has also added eight new alloy wheel designs in 18- and 19-inch sizes and two new colours, called Crystal Black and Race Blue.
Skoda has applied some minor updates to the cabin of the Superb in the form of new seat covers on Ambition and Style trim levels, along with contrasting stitching on the leather and Alcantara seats and armrest sections. Other improvements to the interior include a larger area for the wireless phone charger in the centre console.
With business and fleet customers accounting for 82 per cent of Skoda Superb sales, it comes as no surprise that the diesel engine powers the majority. To combat tightening emissions regulations Skoda is introducing a new version of its 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine. The heavily revised 2.0 TDI 'Evo' engine has a power output of 150hp and will be available with a six-speed manual gearbox or the seven-speed DSG automatic that we're driving here. New components include the crankshaft assembly and fuel injection system, in addition to the exhaust, turbocharger and thermal management systems. That translates into an engine that is lighter and, Skoda says, consumes less fuel with lower emissions.
Many car manufacturers have had to tweak existing engines to meet the latest Euro 6d-TEMP regulations and, in some cases, the side-effect of these measures has been a drop off in overall performance. The 2.0 TDI Evo appears to have worked around this problem, and it delivers a noticeably crisp throttle response. Some of that could be apportioned to the new turbocharger that features an electric motor rather than the vacuum actuator of its predecessor. Under load and when cruising the engine isn't as vocal as before, helping to add to the refined nature of the Superb.
To a broad extent, road and wind noise are well suppressed inside the Superb's roomy cabin. For those who get to enjoy the impressive levels of legroom in the rear, the Skoda is a car that you'd happily sit in the back of for several hours without complaint. Up front, the driving position affords the driver no shortage of adjustment, and there is a good deal of comfort and support for the back, sides and underneath. For maximum driving comfort, choosing the seven-speed automatic transmission is a must.
What you get for your money
The Skoda Superb is available in five specification grades in both saloon and estate (Combi in Skoda parlance) guises, and almost every engine and trim level combination can be ordered. Equipment grades begin with the Active model, featuring Climatronic dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, a leather multifunction steering wheel, electric front and rear windows, 16-inch Orion alloy wheels and LED headlights. Keyless engine start and an 8-inch Bolero complete the offering.
There is only a modest price jump to the Ambition specification. It brings with it several desirable additions including 17-inch Stratos alloy wheels and chrome exterior detailing on the front grille vents, side window frames and with the Combi, chrome style roof rails. The interior benefits from brushed aluminium effect inserts while the infotainment system benefits from a one-year subscription to Care Connect. Other useful features include rear parking sensors, automatic headlight activation and rain-sensing automatic wipers.
If you want to have the larger 9.2-inch Columbus infotainment system, then you'll need to go to the Style grade. Here, the Superb also gets an Infotainment Online 12 month subscription, in-car WiFi capability, DAB digital radio and a wireless charging pad for compatible devices. Inside there is a full leather interior, triple-zone air conditioning and an electrically adjustable driver's seat. Other features include 18-inch Antares alloy wheels, LED Matrix headlights with telescopic washer jets, and a suite of driver aids systems. These include Side Assist, Lane Assist to stop you veering out of the lane and a reversing camera with park distance control at either end.
The range is topped off by two different models grades which offer a different design to suit respective tastes. The Sportline model gets more of a performance-orientated look thanks to larger 19-inch Vega alloy wheels, LED Matrix headlights and LED tail lights that feature dynamic indicator signals, LED ambient lighting inside along with Alcantara leather upholstery. It gains the Sports Suspension setup that lowers the ride height by 10mm, and the Drive Select function allows for different engine and transmission setups to be selected.
For the best in Skoda luxury, then the L&K (Laurin & Klement) will be of interest. The premium look is helped by 19-inch Trinity alloy wheels and subtle L&K badging on the exterior. It gets the same LED lighting setup as the Sportline and includes tinted rear windows for added privacy. Front and rear seat heating complement the full leather interior that includes L&K embossing on the seats. Along with the larger infotainment system, this version also receives an uprated Canton sound system.
Few other saloons or estate cars come close to delivering the same levels of space and quality that the Skoda Superb offers. The quality of finish to the interior alone puts it at the sharp end of its segment, while an improved diesel engine should go down well with target buyers.