Skoda Superb Combi 4X4, can it take the on the BMW X5?


By Philip Hedderman


Nobody is perfect … not even me.


Infallibility it seems is erm, fallible – and I am living proof.


Now, in order to quantify that statement, you will have to go back to my original review of  the second coming of the Skoda Superb.


‘Gushing’ some said of the piece.


‘One to watch’ commented the cautious observer and ‘Too good to be true’, screamed the brand snobs.


No, yes and I told you so are my responses to all of the above, but the one they missed was the bold quote that ‘you can’ improve on perfection’.


Remember that this is billed as the car that you can’t buy extras for.


The options list simply consists of poke and if it’s more power you’re after then it will cost.


Never before had we seen a luxury saloon come with so much technology and equipment as standard.


The Elegance 1.6 TDi GreenLine came with a star line-up including
ful leather interior with electric front and rear heated seats; sat nav, Parking Assistant (which parallel parks the car for you), cruise control, Bi-Xenon 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 monitoring.

Boasting a 5*NCAP safety rating, you also get a raft of airbags (7) including driver, passenger side, curtain and knee bags.


I’m still impressed just looking down the generous list of kit, but not half as much as the Superb’s new secret weapon.


You see, the Czech outfit have just ventured into the world of the 4X4 offering the drive of an executive saloon with the true off-road capability of a SUV and the economy of a small city car.


Most manufacturers would be happy with the first two, but the third is the cherry on top.


That’s thanks to the innovative Haldex Clutch which distributes drive between the front and rear wheels when required.


This on-demand all-wheel drive operates much like traction control and kicks in when the car senses a loss of grip in any one corner.


Now for the science bit.


Through a series of sensors (accelerator and throttle) link up with ABS/ESP control unit and steering to feed information into the Haldex unit in the rear axle which then distributes the power accordingly.


In normal driving conditions the majority of power is delivered to the front wheels (96%) and 4% to the rear.


Should you begin to lose grip at the front the clutch diverts power to the rear (90%) and 10% front.


On surfaces like snow or gravel the power is evenly transmitted (25%) to all 4 corners.


In the event that there is a poor response on one side only traction is divided up with 85% going to the unaffected side and 5% the rest.


Brilliantly simple and it works a dream.


During a recent icy spell, rural roads especially hilly ones around theMourneMountainswere tackled as easily as motorway.


No fuss, no flashing lights or alarms – just confidence that it will get you to where you want to go.


It does however take a little time to master the timing of the clutch bite and on the first couple of occasions she stalled on me, several times in fact driving out of an underground car park.


After a day or so you’ll get the hang of it.


All in all though, it is the perfect solution to the unpredictable Irish winters which are not severe or consistent enough to justify spending a small fortune on BMW X5, let alone winter tyres.


Couple that with the acres of space offered by the Combi (estate) with its massive 633 litres of  luggage room which trebles to 1,865 with the seats folded down.


That’s long enough to accommodate a Grandfather clock and any other bits and bobs you generally lug around.


It’s packing quite a punch too churning out 170bhp from the 2.0 litre TDi unit which has amazing economy.


It is returning over 45mpg (or 6.2 litres/100kms) and because the CO2 emissions are kept down to 163g/km it means current road tax of €447 a year.


Quite impressive considering a gas guzzling SUV equivalent would cost twice that.


If that’s not enough to convince you then the umbrella stowed in the rear door surely will.


Only one other car on the planet offers that kind of attention to detail and a new Rolls Royce will cost close to €500k.


It seems that you can indeed improve on perfection.


The Skoda Superb Combi 4X4 will cost from €36,490