The Skoda Superb
- 25 March 2011
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By Philip Hedderman
With it being Lent … a quick confession.
The following review may not be completely impartial.
Yes, I’m afraid I was so taken by the old Skoda Superb I actually bought one.
It was a classic case of insider information.
Shameful, I know but with my insatiable appetite for all things automotive, I’d been watching the Czech brand evolving for some years.
Now under the wing of the VW group, the Superb was the marque’s first dip into the luxury saloon market.
It took the motoring world by storm with it’s sheer size and small price.
Originally destined for the Chinese market as a long wheelbased Passat, the German outfit quickly realised a gap in the market and launched it’s flagship two years later.
The super saloon went back into production in December 2001.
I say back because the original Skoda Superb first rolled off the assembly lines in Czechoslovakia in 1934 and continued until 1942.
Then we had WW II, followed by the Cold War and the rest is history.
Anyway, what the general public were blissfully unaware of was that this car was a tried and tested VW.
There was still a lot of suspicion that the rebirth was just ‘branding’ and their fresh line-up were just more of the same rubbish we’d seen in the eighties.
There was simply no denying the DNA of this carriage and the mere opening of the driver’s door would confirm that.
And VW didn’t try too hard to hide the fact that it was indeed a first cousin.
It was more like a brother – a twin brother.
The more you looked at it the more the Passat-ish it became.
In fact, the only difference inside and out were the badge and of course the price.
The bus I bought is getting on in years and has covered 87,000 care free miles and the only major hiccup I’ve had was the alternator which sat down at 80K.
Apparently the French-made charger is notorious across the whole VW/Audi range and it’s only a matter of time before they go.
So my expectations for the new Superb were pretty high?
You bet – and I wasn’t disappointed.
Just like the original, I was blown away by the latest offering.
Never before has a luxury saloon come with so much technology and equipment as standard.
Now bear in mind that the test car is the Elegance 1.6 TDi GreenLine.
The list is endless and without stating the obvious it reads like this;
Full leather interior with electric front and rear heated seats; sat nav, Parking Assistant (which parallel parks the car for you), cruise control, Bi-Zenon head lamps with AFS (lights that corner with the car) integrated headlamp washers, heated electric mirrors,on-board computer, bluetooth phone, touch screen radio/CD and up to 20GB of internal music storage and DVD playback.
It is also jam-packed with the latest in safety with their hi-tech ESP which includes anti locking brakes, MSR, ASR, EDS and HPA and tyre pressure monotoring..
Boasting a 5*NCAP safety rating, you also get a raft of airbags (7) including driver, passenger side, curtain and knee bags.
Following in the footsteps of its older brother the new model is again gargantuan on the inside.
The legroom in the rear has been extended by a whopping 19mm, which means you could ferry a whole troupe of showgirls around while they rehearsed their routines.
So they’ve capitalised on the good aspects of the car but the Czech outfit have also learned from design faults of the past.
Everyone raved about how big and especially deep the boot was – but it had one major flaw.
The 2002 to mid-2005 Classic model hadn’t got folding rear seats which was a major no no.
A quick refit and general upgrade in late 2005 remedied the problem and their designers vowed never to be caught napping again.
Instead of following, the Superb is now leading the way in technology and the launch of this model in 2008 simply stunned the motoring world with their brilliant TwinDoor concept.
It basically means you can have a saloon that, with the flick of a switch, turns into a hatchback.
Genius, the hatchback saloon dilemma solved in an instant and the opportunity to dither in the showroom gone.
This was such a brilliantly simple idea that BMW swiped it (or developed as they would say) the idea for their GT which was basically a 7 Series hatchback.
But it was the drive and handling which lured many brand loyal motorists coupled with the unrivalled level of comfort for those pumping up big miles.
This time round it’ll be the eco-friendly GreenLine badge which is sure to impress.
The 1.6 litre TDi diesel bangs out a very decent 105bhp while producing less than 120g/km of CO2.
That sounds a little underpowered for the size of the chassis but it is more than capable and never left you wanting.
Thanks to stop/start the Superb falls into VRT Band A with annual road tax of just €104, while returning 60+mpg.
Again that’s astounding for a bus as big as this one is proving that it is punching well above its weight.
This is the real deal and pound for pound and euro for euro is neigh on impossible to beat.
Price (without scrappage) for the 1.6 TDI Elegance model tested is €28,995.
Comfort and Ambition are the other specs to choose from which are a little cheaper.