Superb SE 2.0 TDI PD
25 per cent of the first year
allocation of Skodas
model sold in just two weeks, it
looks like the Superb is more than
capable of living up to its name...
ALTHOUGH THE UK'S NEW CAR SALES ARE CURRENTLY IN FREE-FALL due to
the economic instability predicted to be at least 20 per cent
down in September (2008), traditionally the second highest sales month in the
year Skoda sales are holding up relatively well, and after just
two weeks over one thousand new Superb cars have already been sold.
One reason for Skoda's success is that nine out of ten owners recommend other
people to buy a Skoda, and for the last 13 years the brand has remained in the
top five of the industry's J D Power Study of Customer Satisfaction.
Another boost to the new model's potential for it to become another Skoda sales
success story is the fact that the new Superb has just been voted The Caravan
Club Towcar of the Year 2009 overall, as well as winning its class beating the
defending champion the relatively new Ford Mondeo 2.5 diesel estate.
The new Skoda Superb is also likely to make the shortlists for many of the annual
Car of the Year contests due to take place shortly.
Although the upper-medium sector of the new car market has been in decline since
its peak in 2002 (when 560,000 UK sales were recorded) due to customers downsizing
because of higher fuel prices and higher taxation, the sector has seen a recent
upturn with new models being added. These include the Ford Mondeo, VW Passat,
Honda Accord, Citroen C5 and Renault Laguna, and soon to be joined by the Vauxhall
Skoda Auto in the UK says the larger, more stylish and better equipped five-seater,
four-door new Superb has a clever two-stage boot/hatchback feature (called Twindoor)
that will appeal to traditional saloon buyers as well as customers who require
the convenience of a rear tailgate and large load area. The new Superb also
has one of the roomiest cabins in the sector, with impressive rear passenger
legroom, rear headroom to match and one of the biggest boots 565 to 1,670
litres depending on the configuration of the rear seats.
Customers have the choice of three petrol engines (125bhp 1.4 TSI, 160bhp 1.8
TSI and 260bhp 3.6-litre) and three TDI turbodiesel power sources comprising
a 1.9-litre unit with 105bhp and two 2.0-litre units with 140 and 170bhp power
outputs. Six- or seven-speed twin-clutch DSG automatic transmissions are available,
depending on the model chosen, and 4x4 all-wheel drive is available with the
170bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel and the 3.6-litre petrol engines. There is also
a low-CO2 'Greenline' variant powered by a 105bhp 1.9-litre TDI unit capable
First reactions when my test car turned up were that the new Skoda Superb is
undeniably an imposing and striking car, and a worthy flagship for the Czech
Unlike other Skoda models that have made their mark by having a low price, the
new Superb doesn't appear to have any price advantage over, say, the Passat
saloon on which the architecture is loosely based or indeed the market leading
Mondeo hatchback. Superb prices run from £15,490 to £26,675. For comparative
purposes, the mainstream Passat saloon model is priced from £15,860 to £27,015;
and Mondeo hatchbacks from £15,695 to £25,795.
Where the Superb does score is on its interior space: exceptional room for five
adult passengers and a huge boot and load area space to match. The new Twindoor
boot/hatch design is sure to be followed by others, not least of all family
members Volkswagen and, perhaps, even Audi.
Skoda's designers have re-engineered the VW family floorpan to make the Superb
slightly longer than the Passat saloon. This gives improved access and really
generous leg and headroom for rear passengers.
The styling looks upmarket and has a polished luxury image. Let us hope the
badge snobs don't cut off their noses to spite their face as the saying goes,
because if they do they will be missing out on a great opportunity to buy a
My test model the Superb Skoda expects to be the most popular in the
UK is the Superb SE 2.0 TDI PD 140bhp with the six-speed manual gearbox
that costs £19,030 on the road. Add options such as satellite navigation, floor
mats (Yes, we did a double-take on that, too), Park Assist and Sunset glass
and the final price came to £21,335. In other words, the traditional Skoda price
advantage over the competition is not really there any longer, for the Superb
The Superb's specification is high though, and even includes the limousine trait
of having an umbrella stowed in the rear door. The goodies list seems endless,
so new owners will get lots of car for their money. I will just pick out the
main items as a matter of record. These include: 17-inch alloy wheels, rear
parking sensors, subtle chrome trim, electrically-operated door mirrors with
integrated indicators, front fog lights and Halogen headlights.
Inside there are heads rests for all five seats, an 8-speaker sound system,
air conditioning (incl. glovebox), front, side and curtain airbags, electrically-operated
front and rear side windows, electronic stability programme, executive style
armrests, trip computer, remote central locking, leather trimmed steering wheel
and gear knob/gaiter and split folding rear seats. Whilst the standard fit umbrella
is a bonus, some customers will be justifiably irked when asked to pay extra
for floor mats in a non-premium brand car.
On the plus side, overall the quality of the Superb is excellent and it no longer
looks or feels like Volkswagen's 'poor relation'.
As to the performance? Well, the engine is nothing new. It is the older 2.0-litre
TDI diesel unit from the VW family, not the new, much quieter and livelier direct
injection 2.0-litre unit used in the Audi A4, VW Passat and Tiguan SUV. However,
despite the sometimes noisy engine which is flat at low speeds but nevertheless
has good mid-range response (a characteristic of this particular unit)
the Superb gives a hushed drive. Top speed is 128mph and zero to 62mph takes
10.2 seconds. Fuel economy is potentially good: officially it's 47.9mpg. In
real life driving conditions, I managed 42.1mpg. Emissions of 155g/km mean a
road tax bill of £145 a year.
Ride comfort is first rate and long journeys are effortless. The suspension
is compliant although the handling feels lazy, and over some poorer surfaces
the ride is fidgety. It is not as sharp, or as nimble, as the latest Mondeo
but for most buyers this will be of no concern. Due to the three rear head restraints
and shape of the tailgate window, rear visibility is poor so the standard-fit
parking sensors are as important as they are welcome. The lack of a rear tailgate
wiper does not help, either.
The Skoda Superb might not quite live up to its name but it does score heavily
for passenger and load space, stylish good looks, quality, high levels of equipment
and the clever and user-friendly Twindoor boot/tailgate. Not such good news
is the sometimes noisy engine (as tested in the 140bhp 2.0-litre TDI), poor
rear visibility and the fact that you must fork out extra for your floor mats.
In a declining market it will have to compete very hard indeed to move customers
out of Mondeos or stop them buying the new Insignia. Financially it's a tough
time, but the first indication is that the Superb will do very well thank you!
Skoda Superb SE 2.0 TDI PD | £19,030
Maximum speed: 128mph | 0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
Overall test MPG: 42.1mpg | Power: 140bhp | Torque: 236lb ft
CO2 155g/km | VED Band D £145 | Insurance group 9E