Skoda recently updated the Superb with a number of new features. While it is not a radical departure from the earlier car, it is definitely sharper and comes with many added features that add to the car’s existing impressive repertoire. The Superb for long has been the only diesel vehicle in the exceutive luxury segment; its competitors being the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. Over a period of time, the Honda Accord has stopped production and only the Camry remains, so the Superb retains its title of the only diesel vehicle in this segment. The car is styled very well – it is not over the top, has elegant lines and offers the best cabin space. There is also something refined and classy about the interiors – the choice of colours and material inside, the smooth operation of minor controls (excluding the manual window sun-shades.) The diesel engine is fairly smooth and silent, and the DSG box goes around doing its business generally quietly and efficiently.
On the inside, the large rear seat space can fit even six-footers plus very comfortably and those wearing high heels will surely appreciate the extra space they would get to open their shoes and sit comfortabbly. Other notable features include an umbrella in the rear passenger side, which is a useful feature as well as a nifty thought. Being a Skoda, equipment levels are sparse, though you do get basic standard stuff like electric windows and comfort closing for locking / unlocking.
While the exteriors have not undergone too many changes, there are subtle improvements. A new headlamp cluster gets three lines of LED which are basically for the marker lights, but also double up as indicators. Bi-Xenons are standard on the ‘Elegance’ version and offer a brilliant light throw, whilst fog lamps below the bumper level also work as cornering lights – this is a very useful feature, especially on mountainous roads or roads with lots of curves. There is also a nicely integrated rear lip spoiler on the boot lid. Dual exhausts with chrome finishers look the business, while 16” alloy wheels give a purposeful stance to the car. The greatest trick, which the Superb has up its sleeve is its variable opening rear hatch. Press one button and only part of the tailgate rises. Press another, and you can open the entire liftback for a larger loading area; there is a motorised closing function to ensure that the liftback closes properly.
The interiors are sumptous. A combination of soft nappa leather and onyx-ivory interiors impart a rich look, with wooden inserts which look like real wood. The top part of the dashboard is black in colour to prevent unwanted reflections on the windscreen on suuny days. There is of course a 12-way power adjustable seat for both driver and front passenger, with the driver’s side even having a memory function to boot. The seats themselves are quite firm and supportive, without losing the comfort equation. A worthy mention is an umbrella – this brolly goes into the rear passenger door, and even has a ‘quick drying’ feature! Another very good thing is what Skoda calls the “lounge step” – a footrest at the back where you can prop up your tired feet, and is quite comfy. The front passenger seat is powered, so it can be moved easily but does not have side slide buttons, so one has to lean forward to move it. Not a deal breaker, but side slide buttons would have helped!
Skoda Superb Test Drive Review
There are also manual blinds both for the small rear window as well as the side windows. While the shades themselves are quite useful, yet they are somewhat fiddly to use, but once affixed really help in blocking off the sun and keep the cabin cooler. Air-conditioner performance is acceptable, and Skoda has definitely done a good job of improving it over the previous Superb, which was known to be slightly challenged in this area. This time round it is better, and the vents in the B-pillar really help, although we must mention that it is still no match for its Japanese competition. Other good features include a split folding rear seat with access to the boot and a handy clock and outside temperature display at the back. A sunroof complements the front seats.
A decent sound system with a SD card reader and built-in 6-CD changer takes care of your music. It has a 6.5-inch touch screen, which also doubles up as a display for the parking sensors. Sound quality is fairly good and loud.
Engine, Transmission and Performance
We reckon most people would choose diesel in the Superb and hence we drove the 2.0 TDi. Skoda has sometime back moved to common-rail injection from its earler insistence to go with pump-dusse technology. This has brought a certain degree of commonality across the Volkswagen-Audi-Skoda range, and this same engine does duty in a variety of other cars. It is reliable and very fuel-efficient and even with a lot of hard running, the engine returned more than 14 kmpl. The double-clutch DSG gearbox is also very smooth and efficient, and gearchanges are seamless. There is a sport mode as well, with increased rev limits but strangely enough the manual mode works only in ‘D.’ Overall, a smooth engine with excellent noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.
Handling and Safety
This is not a sports car, so we cannot expect very evolved cornering capabilities or other related things. What this car does well though is that it cossets you in comfort, and the excellent suspension takes care of the ride quality very well. Potholes are dispensed with a minor thump, and the car simply glides over rough patches of road. The traction control system (TCS) gives the vehicle good grip, and contributes to its neutral handling.
A good point about European cars is that they don’t compromise on safety, and the new Superb follows this philosophy fully. All versions come with 8 airbags as standard, along with the aforementioned TCS and Anti-Skid regulation (ASR). Additionally, the Elegance model also gains and electronic differential lock, a hill-holder feature in the transmission and Electronic Stability Control (ESC). Active head restraints are standard across all models.
The Superb is a good car for those looking for an executive sedan. It has acres of space at the back, has a decent set of features and most of all is a very safe car. Add to that excellent fuel economy on the diesel models and a quiet engine, and you are set for a car that makes a compelling case for itself. Prices start at a decent 18.6 lakh for the petrol models, while the diesel one starts retailing at around 23 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). At that price level, it is definitely a very good proposition compared to the competition.
Currently, the only competitor is the Toyota Camry, which is available in both normal and hybrid variants (Currently the Honda Accord and Volkswagen Passat are not being sold). The Camry is a good looking premium car which again is a doodle to drive and comes with a long list of standard features and has amazing air-conditioning. However the Camry is let down by a relatively poor quality audio system in terms of sound, and the interiors while plush do not have the quality material feel of the Skoda. What goes in its favour is typical toyota maintenance costs and servicability, though the lack ofa diesel variant in india has not gone down too well with Indian consumers. Prices start at Rs. 25 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi.