The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.3
The Skoda Superb is a rational purchase, and its solid, capable drive and efficient engines reflect that. However, the smart styling, ingenious touches that enhance daily ownership, and impressive roster of new gadgets make it a serious contender in the family car class, especially at this price. Voted for by the public as the 2018 winner of Auto Trader’s New Car Award for ‘Best Family Car’.
Reasons to buy
- Class-leading interior space
- Efficient engines
- Massive boot
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
The Superb has always been a rational purchase, a car bought with your head, not your heart. This model, though, is a classy, desirable flagship for Skoda's range. It's a really sharp-looking car, looking and feeling like a true premium rival for the likes of the Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class. This means it looks a lot sharper at the back, with lots of hard lines and creases helping disguise the fact it’s now longer and wider than before.
There are seven trim levels to choose from, all of which have alloy wheels. The range starts with the S, which rides on 16-inch wheels, while SE and SE Technology customers will upgrade to 17-inch wheels, silver roof rails and a chrome grill frame. The SE L Executive has 18-inch wheels and more powerful bi-xenon headlights, as well as rear LED lights, while the Sportline model has a gloss black grille and some subtle exterior badges. Sportline Plus adds 19-inch alloys. The top-of-the-range model, the Laurin and Klement (named after Skoda's founders) also has 19-inch wheels, as well as some calligraphic badges on the front wings.
What's the interior like?
Bigger is definitely better in the Superb. You can really feel the difference made by the increase in width and height in the cabin: this is as spacious as family cars get. The Superb shares a lot of parts with a wide range of cars, including the Volkswagen Passat, Audi A3 saloon, and the Octavia. Obviously, that means that it looks and feels quite similar to its smaller sibling, with the same switchgear, buttons and dials all present and correct. However, that also means it inherits the same sturdy build quality, comfortable driving position and logical dash layout of those cars, so there is very little to complain about. Cars from 2017 onwards have a revised infotainment system, which replaces navigation buttons with an all-in-one touchscreen. It's still easy to use, but slightly less so than before, and it attracts greasy fingerprints like nobody's business. Smart features include an umbrella in each door (on SE models and above) and a cup holder that will grip the bottom of your water bottle, so you can open it one-handed while driving.
How practical is it?
This really is the Skoda Superb’s forte. Even the hatchback has enough boot space to embarrass most large estate cars, with 625 litres of loading area behind the back seats, which increases to 1,760 once they are folded down. This can be done using the spring-loaded levers in the boot, making packing larger items easier. Head-, leg- and shoulder room are all more generous than in the VW Passat, Ford Mondeo or Mazda 6, and there are handy features everywhere you look. For example, the parcel shelf has a stowage slot that it slides into when it’s in the way. There is a magnetic torch in the boot, and you can buy a storage pack with Velcro dividers that stick to the boot floor and stop your bags rolling around. Visibility is good for such a big car, and it’s still easy to judge exactly where the limits are, despite the step up in size. For those who struggle, though, parking sensors are standard on SE models and upwards to help avoid any nasty dings.
What's it like to drive?
Comfort and composure are the top priorities for the Superb. It delivers both in spades. Yes, that does mean it feels really capable to drive, rather than exciting, but in a car like this, that's no bad thing. There is plenty of grip, and there's also the option to increase this further with all-wheel drive available with the most powerful engines in the line-up. The steering is precise, and accurate enough to place the front end with assured confidence, but a Ford Mondeo is a little more fun when the road starts to turn. All the cars we've driven have been fitted with the optional adaptive suspension – which have three modes (comfort, normal, and Sport) – but we found these a little unconvincing. In the softest setting, the car bobs and pitches, taking too long to react to imperfections in the road, while the hardest setting can be quite jittery over smaller lumps and bumps on town roads.
How powerful is it?
A wide selection of engines means there is usually something for everyone, and the Skoda Superb certainly gives buyers plenty of options to choose from. However, despite a range of refined petrols, including a 1.4 with 150 horsepower and cylinder shut-off technology to reduce CO2 emissions, the vast majority of buyers are likely to pick one of the three diesels. There’s a 1.6 with 120 horsepower, and a 2.0-litre with either 150- or 190 horsepower. We tried both the 2.0-litre models, and although there’s not a big difference in performance (both have a decent spread of pull available across most of the rev range) the lesser version actually feels a tad more refined at speed. The manual gearbox has a light, but positive, action, and the clutch is light enough to make precise changes. The petrol model needs working harder to make quicker progress, but it’s great for pootling around town, and really smooth and flexible, even when you do push it.
How much will it cost me?
For what is an undeniably vast car, the Superb's running costs should be fairly reasonable. Model-for-model, CO2 emissions and fuel economy figures can't quite match those of a Ford Mondeo or Volkswagen Passat, but considering the Superb's extra size, it's really not very far behind. Servicing, insurance and PCP loan costs should all be highly competitive, but the Passat is likely to command slightly better resale values. However, the Superb is slightly cheaper, which should even things out.
How reliable is it?
Skoda customer satisfaction is consistently sky high, with buyers reporting excellent dealer service, and very few problems with their cars. We fully expect the Superb to enhance that strong reputation in the industry. All the engines in the range have been tried and tested in other VW Group cars, which should hopefully mean no hiccups or nasty surprises. Yearly service intervals and a three-year or 60,000-mile warranty come as standard, with the option to pay for up to five years' cover to help it compete with brands like Toyota and Hyundai.
How safe is it?
Like the Octavia with which it shares so many parts, the Superb also scored a maximum five stars when it was crash tested by the experts at Euro NCAP. All versions come with six airbags, traction- and stability control, hill hold assist to prevent you rolling away from steep junctions, and a multi-collision brake system that applies the brakes automatically if it senses a crash, to avoid further impacts. Importantly, automatic emergency braking is also standard throughout the range. Higher up the range, blind spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, full park assist, and city emergency braking all feature, and there is even a traffic jam assistant that will steer, brake and accelerate for you at low speed, to keep you rolling along even in the longest of tailbacks. Basically, whatever kit you can imagine, the Skoda has all the bases covered – it just depends how much each buyer wants to fork out for the optional systems available. The only exception is a set of 360-degree cameras to give you a top-down view, but it’s right up there with the class best.
How much equipment do I get?
There are seven different trim levels, but even the cheapest Superb comes very generously equipped, despite costing less than the equivalent VW Passat. For S models, standard features include a leather steering wheel, DAB radio, Bluetooth, air-conditioning, and a touchscreen for the infotainment system. The SE adds key extras like adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, cornering fog lights, and an umbrella in each of the front doors. The SE Technology adds part-leather upholstery and a larger touchscreen with sat-nav, while the SE L Executive model includes, leather upholstery and electric operation for the front seats and tailgate, while the Sportline foregoes some of that for the racier styling elements. Sportline Plus models check the empty boxes, while Laurin & Klement models ramp up the luxury kit even further, with ventilated leather seats, tri-zone climate control and an upgraded 10-speaker hi-fi. However, this pushes the asking price well beyond what you might call reasonable; into BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 territory, in fact.
You are a company car driver with a keen eye on price, but a taste for the finer things in life. The Skoda hits a real sweet spot as a fleet buyer; it arguably looks better than a Passat, has more room than anything else in the class, and is affordable to buy and run. It feels like a plush executive car from the class above, and as long as you choose the right spec, it’s great value. Well worth putting on the shopping list.