Skoda Superb Estate (2015 - ) review
The Skoda Superb Estate (2015 - ) is a fantastic combination of price, practicality, running costs and value for money
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There’s no denying that Skoda’s design is changing – many would say for the better – and the Superb Estate is a good example of this. It’s a very simple shape, which is decorated by a variety of subtle creases both down the flanks and on the bonnet, while the steeply-sloped rear window gives it a surprisingly slinky profile. Straight lines are everywhere on this car; all sharp angles rather than soft curves. All models get alloy wheels, with entry-level S models sitting on 16-inchers. Mid-range SE and SE Business models get 17-inch rims, while top-spec SE L Executive and Laurin & Klement models come equipped with different designs of 18-inch wheel. All models get LED rear lights and daytime running-lights, as well as body-coloured everything, while the top two trims get Bi-Xenon headlamps.
It’s a high-class effort from Skoda and one that brings the Superb up to the standards of the rest of the brand’s range. All the materials feel really quite premium – although maybe not quite as plush as a VW Passat’s – and the excellent touchscreen infotainment system (which is familiar from much of the VW Group’s cars) is as ergonomic, intuitive and graphically excellent as ever, on any of the screen sizes which are available throughout the range. You can also move the seat and steering wheel to your heart’s content, so finding the perfect driving position is very easy indeed. Visibility out of the enormous glass area is also very good, making manoeuvring what is a very large car, relatively straight forward.
This is the area in which an estate must shine and, thankfully, the Superb does exactly that. Even with the rear seats up, it’s an impressive size – 660 litres should prove plenty for most people – but flick the levers in the boot and the rear seats drop down flat, revealing a gargantuan loadbay measuring 1,950 litres. Not only is it enormous, but it’s also a usable, square shape, too, with a low loading lip and, if you specify the variable boot floor, it can be made totally flat. The front passenger seat can also be folded flat, meaning that the car can carry items up to 3.1m in length. If you’re not filling the boot as much as possible, there’s also a palatial amount of space for people in the Superb Estate, with limousine-like legroom for both front and rear passengers, as well as a huge amount of head- and shoulder room.
Ride and handling
Like the hatchback, the Superb Estate is a car engineered for comfort over sharp handling and it really delivers on that score. It soaks up most imperfections and deals with them exceptionally well. Despite its focus on ride quality, the Superb also feels pretty secure in the bends, with impressive body control and plenty of grip on offer. The steering is a touch light and vague – especially on four-wheel drive models – but it is consistent in its responses. Fiddling about with driving modes – optional on SE models and standard on SE-L Executive models – does help a bit, but it still feels rather artificial. Generally, it’s a good idea to leave it in ‘normal’ mode, which is best for making serene, comfortable progress, although a Sport Line version, with adaptive dampers, is available if you want even greater comfort and/or handling enjoyment.
We’ve tried the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel in two different states of tune; 148- and 187bhp. Both feel strong, smooth and fantastically refined. On paper, the 187bhp version offers more performance but, in reality, the differences between the two are negligible. We also tried the 148bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine. This is likely to be less popular than either of the diesels, but it’s impressive nonetheless, offering a smooth, torquey delivery which never feels sluggish despite the shortfall in mid-range grunt compared with the TDI models. Most engines are available with a choice of either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Both of these suit the car’s relaxed demeanour well, with the manual providing a nice, precise and light shift, while the dual-clutch ‘box slurs between ratios smoothly. Overall refinement is very good, with little road or wind noise making its way into the cabin. The top of the range 2.0-litre TSI 280 is a detuned engine from hot hatches like the Seat Leon Cupra, so it feels seriously brisk, sounds good when revved and hushed and quiet when left to its own devices. It also does 0-62mph in less than six seconds thanks to its standard four-wheel drive system, we're sure it'll be the perfect car for the use of the local constabulary.
For what is undeniably a big, heavy car, these shouldn’t be too troublesome. It’s not a particularly expensive car to by in the first place; spec-for-spec it’s a little bit cheaper than the Volkswagen Passat with which it shares a platform, and is more on a par with the Ford Mondeo Estate. What’s more, the Superb offers more space than either of these rivals. It’s impressively clean and economical, too, with none of the diesels emitting more than 135g/km of CO2 and even the thirstiest one still averages over 55mpg. The most efficient, meanwhile, manages over 70mpg and emits just 105g/km of CO2. The petrol offerings manage between 120- and 168g/km and return between 39.2- and 55.4mpg on the combined cycle.
There’s very little specific reliability data for this car yet, but Skoda’s record for dependability, according to Warranty Direct’s reliabilityindex.com, is excellent. It’s easy to see why, too. It uses parts which are well-proven across the Volkswagen Group, and it also comes with Skoda’s standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty, of which the first two years are unlimited mileage.
This is an area in which Skoda has excelled in the past few years and the Superb Estate shouldn’t buck this trend. The hatchback earned the full five stars from Euro NCAP, and we see no reason why the Estate should be any different. It comes with plenty of safety kit as standard, especially compared with its rivals. You get stability control and traction control as standard, seven airbags, front assist, a tyre pressure monitoring system and a multi-collision braking system. On top of this, SE models adds a driver fatigue sensor, while Isofix points on the front passenger seat and Crew Protection Assist with rear side airbags are available as options on all models. The former is a system which closes the windows and sunroof when it senses an imminent collision, to stop anything entering the cabin. It also tightens the seatbelts when it senses a crash is coming.
In keeping with the car’s value-for-money ethos, you do get plenty of equipment as standard. Bluetooth, a five-inch touchscreen infotainment system, DAB radio, air-con, a trip computer and USB connectivity are all provided on entry-level S models. SE models add dual-zone climate control, umbrellas in both front doors, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors and an infotainment system with a larger touch-screen. Our favourite trim, SE Business, adds Alcantara upholstery and sat-nav as well as front and rear parking sensors. Moving up to SE L Executive trim, you get tinted glass, an electrically-operated boot, upgraded sat-nav with a bigger touch-screen, drive mode selection, leather upholstery and heated front seats with electrical adjustment for the driver’s. Top-of-the-range Laurin & Klement models come with a 10-speaker sound system, a heated windscreen, heated rear seats, three-zone climate control, park assist, a TV tuner and dynamic chassis control.
There are several very good reasons to buy one of these. Quite simply, nothing else offers as much space this side of a small van, or as much comfort this side of a proper luxury saloon. It’s refined and good to drive, and it’s also fantastic value for money, offering more standard equipment, for less money, than many of its rivals. Despite its size, it should be pretty reasonable to run, too, with impressively low CO2 emissions and excellent fuel economy. So, if your priorities are space, comfort and value for money then there’s very little on offer that can match this car.