Safety is a case of black and white with the Superb 4X4

By Philip Hedderman
So, does the colour of a car really matter?
Some boffins would have you believe that certain shades can actually be the difference between life and death.
Take pink for example.
The girly favourite was found to be in the fewest collisions and black the most.
In the biggest survey ever carried out in which egg heads at the Monash University Accident Research Centre analysed 855,258 accidents and they found some startling obvious results.
Here’s what they discovered;
In daylight black cars were 12% more likely than white to be involved in an accident, followed by grey cars at 11%, silver cars at 10%, and red and blue cars at 7%, with no other colours found to be significantly more or less risky than white.
At dawn or dusk the risk ratio for black cars jumped to 47% more likely than white, and that for silver cars to 15%.
In the hours of darkness only red and silver cars were found to be significantly more risky than white, by 10% and 8% respectively.
Now, there are a million different factors to this equation but the biggest and simplest is the fact that white cars are easier to see than darker one.
No kidding, Sherlock – and the Award for ‘Stating The Bloody Obvious’ goes to …..
Anyway, armed with this valuable piece of research I should have taken extra insurance or at least a lucky charm with me to collect a very black and very new Skoda Superb 4X4.
The very mention of black conjure images of mystery and danger.
It’s almost predatory like the Black Mamba, Black Panther, or Black Widow even.
But I needn’t have worried.
You see,  the new Superb is packed to the rafters with safety features.
For starters the luxury saloon comes with ESP, which prevents the car from spinning out of control while it’s also armed with ABS +  MSR + ASR + EDS + HBA.
Other standard kit includes 7 airbags including side, curtain and driver knee bag which when coupled with seat belt tensioners earned this big bus a 5-star NCAP rating for occupant safety.
There are a whole range of little gizmos and gadgets to make sure all onboard are secure including seat belt warning system, but it’s the little extras, sometimes dismissed as gimmicks that really make the difference.
Tyre Pressure Monitoring could prove a life saver should a wheel begin to deflate – especially on a motorway, at high speed.
Rain sensing wipers, Adaptive Headlights (which automatically decides on high or low beam and extra side illumination depending on the level of darkness) and fog lights which corner with the car may all seem like little treats but all have a very important job to do and add to the driving pleasure.
But the biggest and most expensive safety extra here is the car’s genuine 4X4 capability.
No matter what the weather or driving conditions the Haldex Clutch which is controlled by a  bank of sensors linked to the rear axle which in turn distributes power to where it is needed.
In normal conditions 98% of the drive is delivered to the front.
In the event of bad conditions all round like sand or gravel, the power is evenly spread to the 4 corners (25% to each wheel) and in unpredictable surfaces like ice or snow, torque can be transferred to the where the grip is needed most with up to 85% to one wheel.
Shackle that system to the 6-speed DSG (direct shift gearbox) and you have a seamless executive driving experience without the choppy SUV ride of  a conventional off-roader.
So it has the lot, but it does come at a price.
The 4×4 DSG auto comes at a hefty premium of around €5,000 and will give untold peace of mind.
But bear in mind that our winters are generally mild enough – with the exception of last year – and the fact that the bog standard 1.6 litre TDi Greenline is more than capable.
With its massive torque and front wheel drive,  the 105bhp saloon/hatch will get where you want to go.
That said, €32,175 is hardly a king’s ransom and for that you’d be talking a mid-range VW Passat.
The test car we drove cost €40,300.