site search by freefind
MotorBar: 1200+ unique in-depth car reviews. Plus travel & destinations, and 1000 DVD and CD reviews. Online for 14 years. Written by experts.
Skoda Superb Elegance 3.6 V6 4x4 DSG

Click to view picture galleryWith a name like Superb, Skodas
  five-door family hatchback has
a lot to live up to. The $64,000 dollar
  question is
does it?”

SKODA'S REPUTATION has come on in leaps and bounds since adopted by VW. Better known today as the 'manufacturer of happy drivers', the Skoda brand has notched up numerous meaningful awards for its cars and has been in the top five of the JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey for the past 14 years.

First impressions count and the Superb definitely makes a smart first impression — with contemporary lines and top grade finish, and a substantial air of solidity in keeping with its VW/Audi family DNA, it looks far more expensive than it actually is.

Open a door and it just gets better. If it wasn't for the green-and-white badge on the multi-function steering wheel you could be looking at the classy cabin of a far more expensive, prestige branded car. The Superb is a large saloon and at 4,838mm long and 1,817 mm wide, it's very close in size to a 5 Series BMW. And it shows: climb aboard and it's first class all the way with a vast amount of room, not just in the front but particularly in the limo-like rear where there's truly masses of space — and more legroom than in an S-Class Mercedes.

Even with six-footers belted-up in the shapely, well-bolstered and supportive front seats (electrically operated including lumbar support with excellent 3-stage heating) there's easily more than enough room for another pair of six-footers sitting behind them = our near-six-foot tall road testers could stretch out in the broad, individually-shaped back seats with a good seven inches of knee room to spare. The wide, comfy centre armrest is perfect, with a lidded storage tray and a pair of pop-out cup-holders. And for those hot summer days, there's also a rear sun blind. Even wet days won't dampen your spirits = you'll find an umbrella stored in the rear door!

Build quality is impressive: fit and finish is first rate with quality trim and soft-touch materials along with full leather upholstery. Compared to its competitors, the equipment levels are very generous and include dual-zone air conditioning with pollen and dust filters, an air conditioned glovebox, four electric windows (all of them one-shot auto up/down), power door mirrors with integrated indicators as well as handy boarding spots under the mirror housings, automatically folding door mirrors (on locking), electrically operated seats with power lumbar support plus a driver's memory function, cruise control, colour touchscreen SatNav with SD card, MP3 and aux-in socket, tyre pressure monitor, speed warning indicator, rear sunblind, full leather upholstery, heated front seats, multi-function steering wheel with remote controls for the 'phone/radio and Bluetooth, acoustic rear parking sensors, front fog lights with cornering function, hill hold control, rain sensing wipers, 18-inch alloys and a few more items there's just not room to list.

The Superb driver really is pampered: in addition to a very comfortable seat there's a great driving position, lots of height and reach adjustment for the leather-rimmed steering wheel and three memory settings for the seat. And adding to the genuinely relaxed driving environment is the ease of use of various features of the SatNav — for instance, the excellent 3D graphics of the high-end touchscreen and the pictogram that displays the second you select reverse gear showing the proximity of any obstacles.

Settle back in any seat
and at the legal limit
the miles fly by almost
without a murmur...”
Instruments have sharply defined white on black graphics that match the driver's information display between the rev-counter and speedometer and which can show various kinds of information from general trip data to audio, navigation and telephone as well as enable customising of locking and lighting. And don't for a minute think the 160mph speedometer is for show — this Skoda goes all the way to 155mph. The smooth leather wrapped around the rim of the steering wheel feels nice to the touch; and the steering column stalks have an engineered feel.

Equally cavernous is the Superb's boot — a luggage-busting 565 litres with the seats up. That's twice as much as on some similar cars. Drop the split/folding rear seats and this expands to 1,670 litres. And it gets better, because all Superb models come with a nifty dual-mode boot lid-cum-tailgate. Known as 'Twindoor', it's a world first that allows you to choose to open the boot in either of two modes. For loading everyday items you can open it normally as a conventional saloon boot lid. On the other hand, for larger items, you might prefer to open it as a full-size, hatchback-style tailgate. Switching between boot lid or tailgate modes is easy and done at the touch of a button. Other practical boot touches include a load-through hatch, 12v socket and neat pop-out hooks for securing carrier bags. And you'll never have to slam the boot shut — it's self-locking.

Not only are comfort levels high, but wind and road noise are kept out of the cabin; settle back in any seat and at the legal limit the miles fly by almost without a murmur. In fact, at any speed, journeys in the Superb are always enjoyable. At 70mph the brawny V6 is subdued but stamp the accelerator pedal and you'll hear a satisfyingly sporty sound that reminds you just how much power is installed under the bonnet.

Another new piece of kit that's standard is the AFS adaptive headlight system. This clever technology automatically adjusts the spread and angle of light from the headlamps for maximum visibility depending on your speed, the weather conditions and even what kind of road you're driving on. It also features dynamic cornering lights and you can, simply by using the on-board menu, switch the light pattern from RHD to LHD if you're planning a driving holiday across the Channel.

Customers will be pleased to know that the five-star NCAP-rated Superb is fitted with a long list of active and passive safety features including ESP with ABS + MSR + ASR + EDL + HBA (don't ask: all you need to know is that they're there to keep you safe), activation of warning lights during heavy braking and disc brakes all round along with seven airbags including curtain airbags as well as one for the driver's knee. And, most importantly of all, the full-time four-wheel drive system.

The steering is well
matched to the Superb’s
keeping you in control
even when
re romping round
Skoda offer Superb customers a range of three petrol and three diesel engine options but tested here is the 'big daddy' of them all — the powerful 3.6-litre petrol V6. With 260bhp and 258lb ft of torque available between 2,500 and 5,000rpm, this takes the Superb to a top speed of 155mph, hitting 62mph in just 6.5 seconds from standstill. In fact, the Superb's turn of speed certainly surprised a number of go-faster drivers during our week's testing.

More usefully, the standard-fit six-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic 'box is very smooth and enjoyable to use, delivering slick up and down shifts in Drive, Sport or Tiptronic Manual modes at all times, even during full bore acceleration or on a trailing throttle. Manual up/down shifting is available by moving the selector to the left where forward nudges will shift up and backward pulls shift down. As you'd expect, the engaged gear is always clearly shown on the driver's information screen between the main dials.

For all its poke, the V6 manages an official 28mpg on the combined cycle — in our hands it averaged a liveable 26.7mpg. Going by that, the official 'touring' figure of 38.2mpg should be achievable on long runs. However, spend all day in town and you could be looking at 19.2mpg. Bear in mind that this range-topping Superb is not only very quick but also has four-wheel drive. However, given the many thousands of pounds you save by becoming one of Skoda's 'happy drivers', any extra petrol consumption costs arising from choosing the range-topping V6 4x4 Superb are already more than covered.

Even running on 18-inch alloys shod with low-profile 225/40 tyres, the ride quality is definitely good — in fact, it's probably its best feature. The Superb keeps its passengers well insulated from the worst of Britain's shoddily maintained roads but despite tending more towards comfort than 'sports', the ride quality doesn't compromise the Superb's handling. Whilst our potent V6 model proved itself to be a very capable motorway cruiser, its sure-footed four-wheel drive made it really quite good fun to drive. And, as one would expect, reassuringly competent in all situations and weather conditions.

For a large car, the Superb seems to shrink around you. Unexpectedly, and thanks to the minimal body roll and reassuring grip, it feels at home pressing on along sweeping A-roads and even testing B-roads. Feel from the electromechanical speed-dependent power steering is more than adequate and well matched to the Superb's dynamics, keeping you in control even when you're romping round corners. The brakes are powerful, with vented discs at the front and the rear — they take a day or so to acclimatise to because the response is immediate, but after that you don't even notice them apart from the fact that you stop very quickly indeed.

Topping the Skoda range, the all-wheel drive, V6-powered Superb Elegance model is 'superbly' competitive for the amount of car — and the quality — that you get for your money. More than that, in addition to being a big, roomy family-sized motor car, it also serves up impressively good comfort along with a surprisingly good driving experience. So don't worry, be happy, buy one without breaking the bank and you too will become a happy driver! —

Skoda Superb Elegance 3.6 V6 4x4 DSG
| 27,305
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 6.5 seconds | Overall test MPG: 26.7mpg
Power: 260bhp | Torque: 258lb ft | CO2 235g/km | Insurance group 15E/30E