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Skoda Superb iV L&K Hatch 1.4 TSI 218PS DSG
Click to view picture gallery“Plug-ins are great news for the
  environment and drivers alike and
s latest offering the aptly-
  named Superb iV
is a five-star
  player in the hybrid stakes...”

MERGING PETROL AND ELECTRIC power in the iV PHEV (Petrol Hybrid Electric Vehicle) has further boosted the appeal of Skoda's large five-door family car already greatly-admired for its well-rounded mix of comfort, space, quality, and ease of driving with a big injection of greenness.

As the King in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland said, 'Begin at the beginning'. So we shall… In line with current plug-in hybrid technology the iV runs a petrol engine (a turboed four-cylinder 1.4-litre putting out 153bhp) partnered with a 113bhp electric motor; when both are working in step in Hybrid mode the total combined brake horsepower on call is a very respectable 215bhp backed up by a muscular 295lb ft of torque. In E-mode the electric motor's battery pack enables it to travel a practical thirty-seven miles on emissions-free electric power at speeds of up to 86mph. So far so simple…

Most important of all
is that this hybrid iV
plug-in is an absolute
doddle to use.
Press the Start engine
button and it fires up
soundlessly in pure
electric mode (so long as
there’s some charge
left in the battery pack).
And that’s it
good to go!”
Most important of all though is that this hybrid iV PHEV is an absolute doddle to use. Press the Start engine button and it fires up soundlessly in pure-electric mode (so long as there's some charge left in the battery pack). And that's it.

In keeping with other plug-ins, the iV features a 'B' setting alongside Drive; nudge the selector lever sidewards from Drive to B and the regenerative braking system will then kick in whenever you lift off the accelerator to deliver what feels just a conventional car's engine braking — it has the same effect too, of slowing the car but without any need to tap the brakes which makes trundling along in city traffic a relaxing one-pedal procedure (pressing down/lifting off the accelerator). When you want to come to a proper full stop, regardless of whether or not you're in B, use the brake pedal as normal.

So what else do you need to know? Only about charging the battery pack and that's as straightforward as putting your iPhone on charge — a 7kW wallbox will restore the iV's battery from zero to 100% in two and a half hours (if you don't have access to a wall-charger then a bog-standard 3-pin plug will suffice although you'll need a bit more time). Conveniently, you can also recharge on the fly using the petrol engine which means that the final stretch of your journey (say, a zoned zero-emissions city centre) can be approached with a 'clean' conscience.

As with all plug-ins, your real-life mpg is crucially dependent on how much you run on electric: for example, if just half of your trips come in under under 35 or so miles and you keep the battery well charged, then you can look at 70-80mpg+; unfortunately we weren't able to keep our iV regularly charged but still achieved 55mpg with a best of 71mpg. For the record, the official maximum consumption is between 148.7 and 201.8mpg!

Talking of the drivetrain, both power sources switch in and out smoothly and even when left to do all the work the 1.4-litre petrol engine feels and sounds refined. And the hybrid unit can punch above its size — dishing out 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds; flat out you'll see 138mph on the clock.

Even though we
weren’t able to keep our
iV regularly charged
we still logged
55mpg with a best of
71mpg. And that was
making good use of
the twin power sources,
both of which switch
in and out smoothly.
Plus the hybrid unit can punch above its size —
dishing out 0-62mph in
7.7 seconds;
flat out you’ll see
138mph on the clock...”
Even if comfort, space, quality, ease of driving and hybrid greenness combined in one package sounds a tall order, don't fret — the Superb iV delivers on all fronts. Taking the last — greenness — first, emissions are a low 35g/km and even if you forget to keep the battery fully charged the worst you'll see is the 54.8mpg we recorded over the course of a week's demanding driving with minimal access to a charging point. So, greenness… Yes, a big tick.

Next up is 'space, comfort and quality'. Once inside you'll be impressed by the room; there's an abundance of personal space both front and rear. And the H&K's material quality and fit and finish are definitely up to the £40K mark, as too are the large, comfortable, sports-style, pleated leather front chairs (three-stage heated and power-operated with power lumbar adjustment plus a three-setting memory recall for the driver).

You sit high so the views out are great to the sides and, crucially for the driver, over the bonnet. Combined with a generous glasshouse and slim front screen pillars it makes the iV an easy car to place. More good news that will please a great many drivers: the climate system is operated using use physical switchgear, so no distracting jabbing the touchscreen while focusing on the traffic.

Scoring more brownie points is the in-cabin storage which will make short work of a family's odds and ends and includes a large, lit and chillable glovebox along with a very big storage box capped by the central armrest that's also coolable, exceedingly long door pockets and some nifty 'sleeve' pockets on the front backrests. Other much-appreciated touches include being able, via a smartphone app, to remotely set the cabin temperature in advance of unlocking the car — perfect for frosty winter mornings! Overall the space, the comfort, and the on-the-move refinement all come together to create a satisfying and relaxing place to be — so much so that you're never in a hurry to get out even after you've arrived at your destination.

You'll find the comms to be equally high-spec starting with a large 9.2-inch central touchscreen — its big, feature-rich and the graphics sharp, the menus logical and it responds fast to your touch for infotainment and navigation (3D views plus the posted speed limit). Directly ahead of the driver is an even more swish piece of kit: an Audi-style 'Virtual Cockpit' digital instrument panel that can be quickly configured through five different layouts to match your personal preferences including full-screen live 3D mapping with no distracting secondary information though to a sportily centralised rev-counter or a purely minimalist display with just range and road speed readouts — and all done instantly at the touch of a button on the multifunction steering wheel (a sporty and great-to-grip three-spoke little number).

For a big car
this Superb is a stress-
free and effortless driver.
Equipped as standard
with adaptive suspension
(the dynamic chassis’s
adaptive dampers also
lower the ride height
by 10mm) it serves up
five different ride
settings: Normal,
Comfort, Sport, Eco,
and Individual.
In its stiffest mode,
Sport, it’s more than
happy to tackle back-
road twisties where
ll find the front-
wheel drive set-up
reassuringly grippy
and predictable...”
Naturally there's Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink for seamless smartphone integration, an emergency call SOS button above the rearview mirror, a ten-speaker Canton sound system, DVD slot, and voice control.

Occupying the flagship trim slot in the Superb line-up, the plushly fitted-out Laurin & Klement version comes with all the bells and whistles including keyless entry and locking (all four doors), leather upholstery, heated seats front and back, heated steering wheel, virtual instrument panel, three-zone climate control, top-spec infotainment and navigation system, adaptive suspension, rear camera with parking sensors, privacy glass, powered hands-free boot lid, and a set of stylish black gloss 18-inch alloy wheels that not only look fab but are especially easy to clean!

You can also take for granted the lesser but nonetheless desirable goodies such as push button engine start, electric park brake with autohold, heated powerfolding door mirrors, automatic drive-away door locking, four one-shot up/down windows, auto lights and wipes, tinted glass, and a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror along with plenty of safety kit: heated front screen, automatic dip/main beam switching, Matrix LED headlights with adaptive front light system plus LED daytime running lights and cornering front foglights, LED tail lights, Audi-style scrolling indicators, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and seven airbags including one for the driver's knees.

Finally we come to 'ease of driving'… and that's something you get in spades. For a big car — 4.9-metres long — this Superb is a stress-free and effortless drive. Equipped as standard with adaptive suspension (the dynamic chassis control's adaptive dampers also lower the ride height by 10mm) it comes with five different ride settings: Normal, Comfort, Sport, Eco, and Individual.

In its stiffest mode, Sport, it's more than happy to tackle back-road twisties where you'll find the front-wheel drive set-up reassuringly grippy and predictable. The steering is fine too, weighting-up smoothly as your speed rises, and on the same page as the reassuringly able chassis which together with a well-fettled ride ensures the Superb can acquit itself honourably in the dynamic stakes.

If you think the front is roomy just take a peek in the back where you'll find masses of limo-like room for your head, elbows, legs, knees and feet. A very wide pull-down central armrest (with built-in cupholders) divides up the territory into two very generous spaces although three passengers seated side-by-side will definitely remain on the best of terms. Backrest angles are relaxing and the well padded and well shaped seating enhanced by three-stage heated outer seats. In addition you enjoy dedicated air vents with temperature controls, generous seatback pouches, large bottle-holding door bins, and unrestricted views out.

At 485 litres the boot
appears ginormous even
though it’s down on
capacity compared to its
non-hybrid Superb
sisters. Fold the rear
seatbacks and you can
forget AirBnBs —
it’s large enough to
sleep in!
Should you need to
move larger items the
loadbay will swallow
1,610 litres of cargo...”
Riding along in the built-for-comfort Superb iV is as soothing as being in a limousine. Despite being fitted with 19-inch wheels (optional) our test car rolled over the rough stuff, including lumps, bumps and potholes, with pretty much disdain; at speed it's equally competent — a genuinely effortless mile-eating machine.

Accommodating seats and an impressively quiet cabin play their part, giving the iV's passengers a ride-along that trumps that of some expensive luxury saloons far higher up the price scale.

At 485 litres the boot appears ginormous even though it's down on capacity compared to its non-hybrid Superb sisters but forward-fold the 60:40-split rear seatbacks and you can forget AirBnBs — it's large enough to sleep in! Should you need to move larger items the loadbay will swallow 1,610 litres of cargo. Seats up, there's also a ski-hatch that's perfect should you need to mix-and-match long items while carrying rear passengers.

Handy, too, is the full-width underfloor storage compartment where the charging cables can easily be tucked out of the way, plenty of bag hooks, and a handy rechargeable LED torch that doubles as a boot light. The hatchback tailgate lifts high and offers powered opening and closing. It doesn't get much better than this unless, of course, you opt for the estate version.

The urbane Superb iV is a car that ticks all the boxes: its greened powertrain comes with a realistic pure-electric driving range; it's economical, über-utilitarian yet satisfyingly stylish and, for many real-world drivers, offers quite possibly the best all-round five-seater plug-in hybrid for the money. ~ MotorBar
Skoda Superb iV L&K Hatch 1.4 TSI 218PS DSG | £40,580
Maximum speed: 138mph | 0-62mph: 7.7 seconds | Test Average: 54.8mpg
Power: 215bhp | Torque: 295lb ft | CO2: 35g/km