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Skoda Superb SportLine Estate 2.0 TDI 190PS 4x4 DSG

Click to view picture gallery“Skodas, as everybody knows,
  share their gene pool with VWs and
  Audis. But they also stand strongly
  on their own merits. And one model
  in particular, the Superb
SportLine
 
Estate, exudes easily as much style
  as a BMW Touring...”


IN FACT, THE SUPERB really does live up to its name. Wearing its estate suit of clothes, the Superb can face-off against lifestyle load-luggers from the likes of BMW, VW and Mercedes-Benz.

Not only has it got them beaten on space, but on price too. Once upon a time cost wasn't a major decider in the buying equation — especially if you wanted a smart-looker with prestige badge bragging rights. Buyers expected to pay for it; and they jolly well did! However, now it's down to like-for-like, it's price that, more often than not, gets the casting vote.

Since its launch, the Superb has hoovered up a cluster of awards from informed judges who recognise a car's abilities and who aren't swayed by a fancy badge. Not that this latest Superb estate isn't good enough to wear the 'right' insignia — truthfully, if all the badging was removed, on first sight you'd bet your shirt the Superb Estate came from a thoroughbred stable.

In estate guise the
Superb is totally attuned
to the moment;
it’s the right car at the
right time — a time when
family drivers are
deserting MPVs and
people carriers for not
just trendier image-
enhancing SUVs but also
for large estate cars.
And preferably those
offering the ‘must-have’
all-wheel drive...”
Seen from the front the Superb is wide and purposeful, the trademark ribbed Skoda grille finished in gloss black and capped by a clamshell bonnet defined by sharp crease lines.

The flat-cut wheelarches house eye-catching black 19-inch alloy wheels that key with the gloss black door mirrors, gloss black glasshouse surround, gloss black roof rails and gloss black roof spoiler.

Long flanks follow the body crease that extends from the bonnet all the way back to the rear shoulders to meet up with the wraparound LED rear lamps and the sloping tailgate.

Finished in white, the Superb estate is lithe and handsome; cool-looking and sporty, its SportLine treatment is perfectly judged with not a hint of overkill.

In estate guise the Superb is totally attuned to the moment; it's the right car at the right time — a time when family drivers are deserting MPVs and people carriers for not just trendier image-enhancing SUVs but also for large estate cars. And preferably those offering the 'must-have' all-wheel drive.

We've been driving the 187bhp (190PS) 2.0-litre turbodiesel-powered version in Skoda's newest Superb trim — SportLine — with the sporty double-clutch DSG autobox and four-wheel drive. Price-wise that puts it at £35,540 — not far short of the flagship Laurin & Klement model's £36K.

As the 'Sport' part of its name implies, the SportLine is locked and cocked when it comes to performance — top speed is 142mph and it fires off the blocks to pass 62mph in a deceptively quick 7.7 seconds. But then it does have 187bhp under the bonnet plus a muscular 295lb ft of torque and a six-speed dual-clutch auto along with a Sports chassis.

Where the Superb Estate really cleans up is with its dual-use versatility, especially its humungous luggage and load capacities. Despite which you won't be needing to hog all the road — the estate measures 4.8 metres long and 1.86 metres wide; a civil footprint that avoids the resentment full-size SUVs sometimes trigger.

The SportLine cabin is welcoming with an upmarket air matched by plenty of space including a fist of headroom; the dash is ergonomic and user-friendly, while the superb black Alcantara-upholstered and well-bolstered sports-style heated seats with silver diamond stitching are as good to sit in as they look and that for the driver additionally guarantees first-rate visibility in all directions.

As the ‘Sport’ part of its
name implies, the
SportLine is locked and
cocked when it comes to
performance — top
speed is 142mph and it
fires off the blocks
to pass 62mph in
a deceptively quick 7.7
seconds.
But then it does have
187bhp under the
bonnet plus a muscular
295lb ft of torque and a
6-speed dual-clutch auto
along with a Sports chassis...”
The driver also gets some extra TLC in the form of powered seat adjustment (with a three-memory recall) and electrically-adjustable lumbar support. And he, or she, doesn't just get any old leather-wrapped steering wheel but a 'supersport' one with silver stitching and a flat-bottomed perforated leather rim, paddle-shifters on the horizontal spokes and comprehensive multifunction controls.

The large (8-inch) central touchscreen has crisp, clear graphics and it's a doddle to navigate through the infotainment, connectivity and navigational menus (hardwired shortcut menu buttons around the screen save wear and tear on your fingertip!).

You'll be pleased to know that it also comes with integrated Wi-Fi (and includes 2xSD cards, USB / Aux-in connections, and DVD player). Plus there's SmartLink connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Dials are attractive trad-style, enhanced by grey outer bands and bright white needles, while sharp figures and graphics on the multifunction driver's display between the speedo and rev-counter show a variety of trip data, navigation prompts, and digital speed.

Other nice touches include dual-zone climate controls with straightforward 'set and forget' functionality; carbon-effect door and dash inserts with LED ambient cabin lighting (you can select from a ten-colour palette) and an abundance of tactile trim surfaces; a foolproof electric parking brake with an especially useful auto-hold function; and oh-so-convenient keyless start, entry and locking.

Naturally all four windows are electric one-shot up/down items plus there's also drive-away auto door locking, heated powerfold door mirrors (they also autopark on locking and leaving and feature external boarding spots so you can see clearly where you're stepping in the dark), a large, long cooled storage bin under the height-adjustable centre armrest (in addition to the cooled glovebox), and plenty of bins and cubby-holes for all that 21st century 'pocket lint' that a 'connected' generation really can't be without.

And, for the UK's uniquely unpredictable weather, an umbrella compartment in each front door — including a brace of umbrellas!

Safety features obviously include the 4WD system plus there's also seven airbags (including two that run the length of the cabin at window level plus one to protect the driver's knees), height-adjustable front belts, Bi-xenon headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting, LED daytime running lights, parking sensors, an electronic stability control system, Front Assist with auto braking as well as a post-collision braking system, 'follow-to-a-stop' Adaptive Cruise Control, and a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

The rear cabin is where
the Superb scores BIG —
there’s an amazing
amount of space for back
seat passengers.
Relaxed backrest angles,
hat-friendly headroom
and masses of legroom
allow six-footers to
whoop it up, even if their
twin happens to be doing
the driving.
Three adults side-by-side
is as sociable as
Facebook; two can
luxuriate in their own
worlds either side of the
large, well-padded
armrest (cupholders
included!)...”
Large doors provide effortless entry and exit to the rear cabin, which is where the Superb scores BIG — there's an amazing amount of space for back seat passengers. Relaxed backrest angles, hat-friendly headroom and masses of legroom allow six-footers to whoop it up — even if their twin happens to be doing the driving.

Rear privacy glass affords protection from prying eyes but it's nevertheless feels pleasantly airy sitting in the Superb's back seats. Three adults side-by-side is as sociable as Facebook; two can luxuriate in their own worlds either side of the large, well-padded armrest (cupholders included!).

If you need some extra income then you could always rent out the Superb Estate's boot — it's definitely big enough to sleep in. With 660 litres for luggage, it trumps not just its rivals but cars from the class above. But it doesn't end there — fold down the 60:40-split rear seats and you could almost get lost in the cavernous 1,950-litre loadbay. If that's not enough, it will tow a braked 2,200kg.

Extra versatility is on hand in the shape of a large load-through hatch, while a thoughtful touch is the removable LED flashlight holstered on the boot's nearside inner wall that charges automatically when the engine's running.

The Superb line-up offers a variety of petrol and diesel engines ranging from 123bhp all the way up to 280bhp. There's also a tax-beating GreenLine version with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions. Gearbox choices are between a six-speed manual or six/seven-speed dual-clutch DSG transmissions.

The 187bhp/295lb ft diesel in the 4x4 SportLine has a usefully wide peak torque band and it doesn't take much of a shove with your right foot to spark the performance. Mated to the DSG auto it's satisfying to drive with, not surprisingly, plenty of 'go'; the shifts are smooth when driving in congested traffic and fluently fast when hoofing it. Drivers who believe 'being in the driving seat' means being in full control will enjoy commandeering the wheel-mounted paddle-shifters. Adding to the driving experience is that whatever your driving style you'll always be comfortable and snugly-located in the sports seat.

Once Brexit is finally done and dusted, motorists may finally get what they deserve: more realism in 'official' figures. On paper (or more accurately, in the EU labs), the SportLine delivers 55.4mpg in the Combined Cycle. In the real-world our week's average, in poor weather conditions with a lot of demanding country road driving, saw a very worthwhile 44.6mpg. Most owners with 187bhp-performance, an autobox and all-wheel drive would be happy with that — and in all likelihood could squeeze out even more miles from every gallon.

A choice of driving modes from Eco to Sport and Individual ensure there's something totally appropriate for every driving mood or road. The steering is light and accurate and with enough feel to let you place the SportLine confidently.

Body-roll is well
managed, especially for
an estate car, and the
only thing you need to
know about the
SportLine and corners is
that you point the nose
and the rest follows
faithfully, holding your
line cleanly through...”
Realistically, rocket-ship performance is not likely to be the number one priority for most Superb Estate owners. However, while the SportLine may not be a full-blown vRS, it goes pretty damn quickly when given its head. So, when you're in need of a smile, the 187bhp and all-weather traction make it easy to dial one up in an instant.

In the organised chaos that is the week before Christmas, driving the Superb was utterly reassuring — we knew that whatever the weather threw down we'd get to our destination. In fact, even the heavy rain and near-freezing fog didn't put a dent in our peace of mind because the all-wheel drive traction just kept on gripping.

Body-roll is well managed, especially for an estate, and the only thing you need to know about the SportLine and corners is that you point the nose and the rest follows faithfully, holding your line cleanly through.

The icing on the handling cake is the Superb's supple and comfortable ride. Even running on a sports chassis it really is good, and combined with the refined cabin ambiance and superbly supportive Alcantara seats, even the longest trips in the most trying conditions are a ride in the park.

In kit-rich SportLine spec the handsome and über-spacious Superb wagon not only gives you plenty of real estate for your money, but it's also fast with 4x4 grip, enjoyable to drive, and pleasant to live with. Definitely one for a long-term relationship! ~ MotorBar

Skoda Superb SportLine Estate 2.0 TDI 190PS 4x4 DSG | £34,540
Maximum speed: 142mph | 0-62mph: 7.7 seconds | Test Average: 44.6mpg
Power: 187bhp | Torque: 295lb ft | CO2: 135g/km