Simply Superb – Skoda Superb Greenline review
- 06 July 2011
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Somebody rouse Ferdinand Piëch from his slumber. The carefully laid plans for global domination from the former chairman and CEO of the Volkswagen Group are being sabotaged from within. The Car Executive of the Century may not have been in charge of VW when it purchased a controlling share of Skoda Auto but it was he who turned its fortunes around by appointing Dirk van Braeckel as the head of design with the Octavia and Fabia being the fruits of the Belgian designers labour. But the Czech manufacturer, which was positioned as the Groups entry level brand, has over the past few years fought back against its German overseers. The hot RS models bloodied the noses of its German and Spanish cousins but a move into the large saloon market, the preserve of the VW Passat and Audi A4, with the imaginatively titled Superb looked like outright rebellion. However styling that did little to separate it from the Octavia saw it struggle to stand out from the crowd. There are no such issues with the second generation Superb though and in Greenline spec Skoda now offer a luxury saloon that will appeal to those with their minds on both money and the environment.
My test car for the week was the range topping ‘Elegance’ model and for the money there is little else that can match the level of specification, practicality and sheer road presence. Factor in an annual road tax of €104 a year and the Superb appears to tick all the boxes. On paper the 105bhp 1.6 litre TDI does not make sense but it is a willful engine that thanks 250Nm of torque and well gauged gear ratios is only really undone when the 1,500kg+ car is carrying a full compliment of passengers and luggage. A standard Start-Stop system, a touch of aerodynamic tweaks including a 25mm drop and discrete spoiler as well as low rolling resistance tyres means that the big saloon qualifies for Tax Band A (€104) with only 114g/km of CO2 emitted from the exhausts. And if you follow the ‘Recommended Gear’ indicator on the dashboard you can also achieve a miserly 4.4l/100km. Unfortunately a combination of a slightly heavy right foot and a disregard for the early shifts the indicator called for saw me finish my time with the Superb having averaged ‘only’ 5.5l/100km.
As standard the ‘Elegance’ Model features more toys than Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve, toys that would be expensive optional extras in other cars in the sector. The electronic gizmos are dominated by the touch screen media unit that manages to cram in Sat Nav, DVD player, 20GB hard drive and Bluetooth integration all of which can be voice controlled after depressing the Push to Talk button. Dual zone climate control ensure there will be no more arguments about the car being too cold while all occupants can choose how warm they would like their heated leather seats. The front seats are electrically adjustable meaning finding the optimum seating position is just a few clicks away and when you are done fiddling up to three separate settings can be saved. Rear legroom is simply vast – more than that offered in the €92,000 Audi A8 and rear occupants are treated to a Skoda branded umbrella hidden in the rear doors. The car also features the ability to parallel park by itself, parking sensors front and rear, cruise control and bi-xenon lights that automatically adjust depending on driving conditions. And as a whole everything works flawlessly. The Parking Assistant system is unnerving at first but after a while you will wonder how you lived without it. My main complaints relate to theColumbusmedia system. As we all get used to smartphones that require the lightest glance to input data the need to prod the touch screen on the sat nav does take a while to get used to and I did manage to upset the stern headmistress hidden in the dashboard by driving through what she deemed to be a field but was actually one of the newer roads around the M3. The biggest bugbear though is with the voice control. Once you figure out the submenus you can use your voice to change the radio station, skip a track on the CD player and input a phone number yet you cannot input a destination in the Sat Nav. If the voice recognition can pick up me saying 0-8-7 blah blah blah surely it can understand D-U-B-L-I-N. The inability to do so means that inputting data on the fly inevitability means taking your eyes off the road. But these are only minor failings on what is otherwise a very good car.
On the road it is an exceptional cruiser with the well insulated engine only rising above a whisper whilst overtaking. The seats are firm but comfortable meaning you do not get out of the car feeling like you need a trip to the chiropractor and away from the A roads it manages to belie its near five metre length by being surprisingly nimble. The steering is a little numb but the Superb tracks well with little discernable body roll – in the dry anyway. In the wet the car has a tendency to understeer to the point where something as simple as negotiating a roundabout requires constant adjustment of the steering and accelerator pedal. Having driven a ‘regular’ Superb I can only put this down to the eco tyres fitted to the Greenline model.
Styling wise the Superb certainly stands out from its siblings, no longer will you be able to confuse one for an Octavia. Over the week the car was described as BMWesque with opinions split between the profile being more like that of the 5 or 7 Series although there was no argument about the swept back headlights being like those from the 5. One person compared it to a Bentley and I can only guess this is in relation to the length of the doors that thanks to the combination of privacy glass and black B pillar they manage to look even longer. The large C pillar did raise some eyebrows until I opened up the innovative ‘Twin Door’ boot that doubles as a saloon in normal mode but can be opened as a hatchback for larger luggage pieces.
The Superb Greenline range starts at €25,115 rising to €29,945 for the ‘Elegance’ spec Combi (estate) and for the money there is little that can contend with it. A similarly specified VW Passat or Ford Mondeo come in around the €36,000 mark and bar the badge I cannot really see what the extra money buys you. The styling may not be to everybody’s taste, especially around the rear end and the handling will not be dynamic enough for some but for once a car can finally live up to its aspirational name. As much as it pains me to say this it really is Superb!
Škoda Superb Greenline II
- Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel
- Maximum power: 105hp
- Maximum torque: 250Nm
- Acceleration (0-100km/h): 12.5 seconds
- Maximum speed: 192km/h
- Fuel economy (combined cycle): 4.4 litres/100km (64mpg)
- CO2 emissions: 114g/km
- Motor tax band: A
- Annual road tax: €104
- Price as tested: €28,995