Skoda Superb (2009 - )
NCAP Rating 5 / 5
This second-generation Superb replaced the Volkswagen Passat-based original in 2009, adding greater quality, even more space and a far more distinctive look to Skoda’s large saloon. We say saloon, but Skoda took the novel step of offering the Superb as both a hatchback and a conventional saloon - combined in the same car. The innovative, twin opening boot was apparently devised to appease taxi owners - the Superb finding favour among working drivers. Huge space, fantastic quality and economical engines make for a desirable big car, for more than just those that take a fare for a living.
Not content with offering the Superb as a hatchback and saloon in one car there’s also an estate (or Combi in Skoda-speak) with a boot that’s so vast it spans time zones. Space has always been Superb ’s forte, and the current model has masses of it - legroom in the rear rivalling long-wheelbase luxury cars for lounging space. The range follows the usual Volkswagen Group engine line-up, though unsurprisingly our market is denied the larger V6 petrol and TDI offerings, the model mix made up largely of small turbodiesel and turbocharged petrol options. By far the most popular are the diesels, the Superb coming with 1.6-litre TDI, 1.9-litre TDI and 2.0-litre TDI options.
You’ll only find the 105hp 1.9-litre on pre-2011 cars, the 1.6-litre TDI engine then replacing it with the same output and greater economy. In its most efficient GreenLine guise that 1.6 TDI unit returns as highly impressive 4.4 litres/100km, bringing serious advantages over the rest of the range. The 2.0-litre TDI engine is offered in both 140- and 170hp guises, both also offered with four-wheel drive transmissions. That 1.6-litre TDI option comes with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, the rest of the Superb line-up featuring six-speed manual or DSG automatic gearboxes.
Trim levels cover Active, Ambition, Elegance and range topping Laurin & Klement. Adding some confusion are the Greenline models, which are available in Active, Ambition and Elegance, and even more bewildering is the choice of GreenTec models on the same three trim levels. Naturally the Combi estate adds further choice, though all come with climate control as standard, the entry-level Active fitted with everything you could possibly want - with the exception of Bluetooth telephone connection and alloy wheels.
The Greenline model is tempting, but they’re relatively rare on the used market, so any 1.6 TDI or the 140hp 2.0 TDI model with a manual transmission is worth considering. The 140hp engine gives the best all-round performance, forgoing the 1.6’s ultimate economy for easier day-to-day driveability. Ambition specification covers everything you could possibly want, too. The Combi is tempting for its even greater load space, but unless you really need it the premium it adds isn’t worth it - particularly as in saloon guise the boot is vast.
Engines: 1,968cc four-cylinder turbodiesel
Maximum speed: 207km/h
0-100km/h: 10.2 seconds
Fuel consumption: 4.9 litres/100km
Euro NCAP: * * * * *
• Huge passenger and luggage space
• Smart, upmarket interior
• Clever 'Twindoor' boot opening
• Boring to drive
• Looks a bit odd at the back (saloon)
• Badge snobs
There’s a reason the Superb is favoured by taxi drivers - and it’s more than just space. Running costs should be low, and durability high, the Superb a clever buy if you need a big car but don’t want to go down the SUV/MPV route. Neat inside, solidly built and plentiful choice make the Superb a smart buy among savvy used car buyers.