Skoda Superb Combi Review
It might not always feel that way, but car manufacturers put a lot of time, effort and money into choosing a car’s name. So when Skoda called its flagship model the ‘Superb’ a few eyebrows were raised. Now, though, it’s clear the name suits the car. Over the years, the model has evolved and grown into the crisp, stylish and wholly competent car you see today. A car worthy of that ambitious nameplate.
And we think this is the best iteration of the Superb. In its most spacious, big-booted Estate form, it’s the ultimate load-lugger – a comfortable, economical and practical way of travelling across countries or even continents. And now Skoda’s design philosophy is all about pointy angles and sharp creases, it’s even good to look at. Unless you’re into sporty driving or showing off with luxury badges, the Superb will be pretty much perfect.
Select's rating score* - 4.6 / 5
The Skoda Superb is everything its name promises. From the outside it looks much classier and smarter than the Skoda name might suggest, while the cabin is stylish while still being functional. Perhaps more importantly, the build quality is as good as anything else parent company Volkswagen can muster, so it feels wonderfully solid and robust.
Combine that with a lovely smooth ride, a well soundproofed cabin and a range of economical engines, and you’ve got something enormously pleasant to drive around in. And once you take the enormous boot, Skoda’s clever on-board features and acres of rear space into account, you’re left with an incredibly useful family car. In fact, it’s probably the best family car out there.
Skoda has made quite a song and dance of its ‘Simply Clever’ features, which sound like an exercise in marketing guff but are in fact very useful. For example, the Superb comes with a little clear plastic tab on the driver’s side of the windscreen. You barely notice it when you’re driving, but when you park, it’s the most useful gadget in the vehicle: a parking ticket holder. No sticky marks on the windscreen and no arguing with parking attendants when your ticket falls off the screen… Genius.
And that’s just one of the Superb’s myriad ‘good ideas’. This is a car with umbrellas built into the doors so you’re never caught out by a shower, and it even has pockets in the front seats so you can store phones or other small items. It’s as though the designers had some idea of real life when they built this car. It sounds ridiculous, but you’d be surprised how often that isn’t the case.
Comfort is the name of the game in the Superb, and that’s just fine by us. Yes, there’s a SportLine model with go-faster pretensions and there are some powerful engines on offer, but the Superb is never going to be mistaken for a sports car. Instead, it’s a soft, cossetting motorway cruiser that gets you where you want to go without undue stress, tiredness or backache.
So if that’s what you’re after, look no further. Every version of the Superb rides beautifully, and although larger wheels do make an impression on comfort, it’s only by a small amount. They certainly don’t spoil it altogether. So whichever model you choose, you’re going to end up with something supremely comfortable on a long drive.
Combine that with light controls and smooth manual gearboxes, as well as some very competent automatic gearboxes, the Superb is also very relaxing to drive. There are few cars that swallow up the hours behind the wheel with quite so much ease.
And it’s reasonable in town. Yes, it’s a big car and that means it can be tricky to park or manoeuvre, but no more so than anything else of this size. In fact, visibility is remarkably good, and the optional reversing camera also makes things much easier. And while light steering might not help on open roads, it makes low-speed steering a doddle.
It’s also very refined, but that’s thanks to the smooth engine range. The entry-level option is the 1.5-litre petrol with 150hp and a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes. It isn’t quick – 0-62mph takes about nine seconds – but it’s more than fast enough.
Alternatively, customers can choose the 2.0-litre diesel engine with 150hp. Like the 1.5-litre petrol, it’s available with a choice of gearboxes and it’ll pull the Superb to 62mph in less than 10 seconds.
If diesel power appeals but you want more power, you can choose the 200hp version of the same engine, which comes with an automatic gearbox as standard. You can also have it with four-wheel drive, although that extends the 0-62mph time from 7.2 to 7.9 seconds.
Should you prefer petrol, you can have the 2.0-litre, 190hp engine with an automatic gearbox, or you can have the 280hp 2.0-litre engine. That comes with four-wheel drive as standard and it cuts the 0-62mph time to a staggering 5.2 seconds.
Or you can go for the plug-in hybrid iV model. Designed to suit company car drivers, it combines a 1.4-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to offer 204hp and a 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds – the same as the 190hp petrol.
Running costs & Emissions
If you want to keep the running costs down, the choice is basically between diesel and plug-in hybrid. Those doing longer trips will find the diesels capable of well over 50mpg, while drivers doing shorter journeys could manage more than 30 miles from the plug-in hybrid’s electric motor. That’ll be more than enough for trips to the shops or the school run, and you’ve always got the petrol engine for the odd long journey. You’ll have to charge regularly if you want to manage anything like the claimed economy of between 217 and 235mpg, though.
If you’re a company car driver, the plug-in hybrid is definitely the way to go. With CO2 emissions below 30g/km, it’ll keep your tax bills at rock bottom. In the 2021/22 financial year, Superb iV drivers will find themselves in the ultra-low 12% tax bracket. Even the most efficient diesel engine would see you lumped into the 30% bracket for the same year.
Skoda’s reputation for cabin quality is now well established. No longer a laughing stock (thanks in no small part to cars such as the Superb), the company has enjoyed a change of fortunes. So when we say the Superb’s cabin is magnificently built, it probably won’t come as a surprise.
Nevertheless, it’s well worth saying, because the Superb is fantastic inside. Sure, there are some slightly cheap bits of plastic, and the cynic might say that’s because Skoda’s parent company, Volkswagen, doesn’t want the Superb to feel better than a Passat, but it’s still great. Especially for the money.
It’s also much more high-tech than you might expect from a Skoda. Even the boggo SE model comes with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a configurable digital instrument cluster. You get front and rear parking sensors as standard, too, plus loads of safety kit.
Admittedly, the digital instrument cluster isn’t quite as fancy as that of an Audi, and nor is the touchscreen, but it’s all there. In fact, the Superb’s touchscreen is easier to use than that of the latest-generation Octavia, simply because it isn’t trying quite so hard. It’s clear, logical and simple to use, and that’s all you really want.
This is undoubtedly the Skoda’s party piece. There’s very little this side of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class that’s as roomy as a Superb. Not only do you get an enormous estate-car boot, but you also get acres of rear space that allows your passengers to stretch out and relax. The legroom is unbelievable and headroom is good, too – particularly in the Estate with its higher roofline.
Then there’s the luggage bay. At 660 litres with the rear seats up, it’s known in the car industry as “massive”. And it’s a really useful shape, with a wide tailgate opening and a nice square floor that makes it easy to fit larger objects inside. It’s tall, too, which makes it even more useful. And when you fold down the rear seats, you’ll find an even more outrageous 1,950 litres of space. That’s getting on for van-size.
There are just two things to be aware of, however. Firstly, the Superb Hatch has a 625-litre boot that sounds almost as spacious as the Estate, but its awkward shape and sloping tailgate glass make it noticeably less practical. And, if you choose the iV hybrid version, you sacrifice quite a bit of boot space. Don’t get us wrong, it’s still big; it just isn’t quite as big as the petrol or diesel versions.
The Superb scored solidly in its Euro NCAP crash test, earning itself the coveted five-star rating. Although it didn’t achieve any especially high ratings in any one area, it scored strongly across the board in a way that rather epitomises the car’s character. Managing 86% in the adult and child occupant protection categories put it in good stead and should reassure you that the big Czech estate car is as safe as houses.
If that doesn’t work, consider the huge amount of standard safety equipment fitted to the car. It’s there to stop you having accidents in the first place and it’s generally very good. Depending on the version you choose and which options you select, you can be looked after by features including lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking, which will automatically stop the car to prevent a collision. You can also have adaptive cruise control that maintains a safe distance to the car in front, or Park Assist that steers you into a parking space. All you have to look after is the accelerator, gears and brake.
The Superb range is quite big, but the level of standard equipment is surprisingly good. You might expect a Skoda to feel slightly under-endowed on the features front, but even the cheapest SE models get most of the things you need, if not quite everything you want.
That means you get an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, two-zone climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels, which all sounds very promising. It gets even better with the inclusion of a digital instrument display, front fog lights and parking sensors in both bumpers.
But then you realise you’re missing leather upholstery and you’ll have to pay extra for heated front seats. That said, it’s well worth specifying the Winter Pack, which also includes a heated steering wheel and the most effective invention fitted to a modern motor car: the heated windscreen. And although it would be good to have these things included as standard, it’s nice to have the option on an entry-level model.
If you don’t want to muck about with optional extras, you’ll need one of the more luxurious models. Opt for the SE Technology and you can improve the SE’s offering noticeably, adding leather upholstery and heated front seats, not to mention satellite navigation and privacy glass. And if you choose the SE L, you’ll get 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and an electrically operated tailgate.
Or you could choose the SportLine Plus with its 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels, gloss black exterior trim and its larger 9.2-inch touchscreen. That car also benefits from a range of smaller, motorsport-inspired touches, including a sports steering wheel and Alcantara seats.
Topping the range is the Laurin and Klement model, which is named after Skoda’s founders. That’s the only car to get a rear-view camera as standard, along with its 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front and rear seats and ventilated front seats. Three-zone climate control and a heated windscreen are also thrown in, as well as a Canton sound system.
When it comes to optional extras, the Winter Pack, with its heated seats, heated windscreen and heated steering wheel, is always worth choosing. And if you’ve chosen anything other than the Laurin and Klement version, you’ll probably need the reversing camera. The panoramic sunroof is good, too, because it makes the cabin feel much lighter and even more spacious.
Otherwise, it’s just a question of looks. The standard Energy Blue paint isn’t bad, but the metallic colours are the ones to go for. There’s a lovely teal colour called Petrol Blue, or you could push the boat out and have the ‘exclusive’ Velvet Red. Don’t get too tempted into picking larger wheels, though. The 19-inch rims look great, but they do nothing for the ride.
As is so often the way with Skodas, the Superb sits in a kind of strange middle ground that sees it short of natural rivals, but simultaneously allows it to compete with a broad range of other models. Perhaps the closest competitor is the Vauxhall Insignia, which is deceptively large, but doesn’t quite offer the prodigious space of the Superb.
Other alternatives include the stylish-but-cramped Peugeot 508, the evergreen Volkswagen Passat and the very capable Ford Mondeo. The Mazda6 Tourer is also an option – particularly for those who value handling and premium interiors – but none of those cars is as big or as roomy as the Superb.
Then you start getting into the premium stuff. In terms of size and quality, the Superb is a match for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Volvo V90, but it doesn’t have either the badge or the price tag to compare. Nevertheless, it’s an equally impressive car, and with that sort of capability and space, it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. If that isn’t an accolade and a half, we don’t know what is.
In almost every measurable way, the Skoda Superb is absolutely brilliant. Sure, it has competition from cars that cost tens of thousands more, but the Superb is undoubtedly up there with the best of them. It’s spacious and comfortable and well built, but it’s economical and it doesn’t cost much to lease or run. What more can you ask for? We truly believe there’s a case for crowning the Superb the best car in the world, and praise doesn’t come higher than that.
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Skoda Superb estate
**Correct as of 15/09/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £2,294.24 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.