Thursday 21 September 2017

Superb show as new Skoda puts on the style

First Look: Skoda Superb in Prague

Skoda Superb, which was unveiled in Prague.
Skoda Superb, which was unveiled in Prague.
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Amid pomp, splendour and song, Skoda unveiled its 'new-era' Superb here last night.

Around 800 guests attended the world premiere. They were entertained by another world premiere - that of the 'Superb Symphony' with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. And there were performances from soul legend Chaka Khan and singer Aura Dione.

So much for the occasion, what about the car? The saloon gets to Ireland in August and as you can imagine they have high hopes and big plans for it. The estate (Combi) is pencilled in for September.

Built on Volkswagen's new MQB platform it is the widest in its class, 28mm longer, the wheelbase is up 80mm (but front overhang is 61mm shorter); there's 30 litres more boot capacity (625 litres) and it is 75kg lighter. Boot space expands hugely when you fold down the back seats (front passenger seat also folds).

Strangely its wheelbase is shorter than the Ford Mondeo's but longer than everything else in its class. Other key rival include its near-relation the Volkswagen Passat as well as the Opel Insignia, Audi A4, Toyota Avensis etc.

For Ireland the prime engine will be the 1.6TDI (up to 120bhp from 105bhp, 100g/km, €180 road tax, 3.9l/100km).

Then there is the 2.0TDI (up to 150bhp from 140bhp, 105g/km, €190 road tax, 4l/100km). And there's a 2.0TDI, 190bhp (106g/km, €190 road tax, 4l/100km). They also have a high-performance 2.0 TSI petrol with 280bhp. The engine line-up mirrors that of the new Passat.

You can now get a 7spd DSG auto with the 1.6 TDI engine and there will be a 4x4 option on saloons and estates.

The Superb has always been about price and space. It now happens to look extremely well too. I'm told there will be a price increase but it will be 'modest'. They expect 1,150 to buy a saloon next year with 600 opting for the estate. That's significantly up on the 822 (saloon) and 300 (estate) from last year.

They claim the car still has the best interior space in its class. Driver and front seat passengers get 39mm more elbow and more headroom. There is 157mm legroom at the rear - they reckon about twice as much as their nearest rival.

Rear headroom is now a significant 980mm and rear elbow room has gone up by 69mm.

There's plenty of technology but what will be standard and optional will, I presume, become clearer when price etc is sorted though there has always been a high level of spec on the car in the past and that won't change. Seven airbags are standard.

Equipment includes adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), new three-zone air con, sliding/tilting panoramic electric roof etc. Then there are heated seats, wireless heated windscreen and heated washer jets as well as automatic wipers and lights.

There is a second USB + 230 socket for the rear seats. And instead of one umbrella in the rear left door there is now one in each of the front doors.

The new, electric tailgate doesn't allow for the switch between saloon and hatch any more. It is now a 5dr hatchback (they call it a Liftback).

Park Assist features too as does a rear-view camera for the first time. And an electric parking brake is standard.

There's a choice of four new infotainment systems - the car can be connected to a smartphone for the first time. And with the Media Command app and wi-fi hotspot in the special Columbus system, you can, for the first time, remotely control the infotainment system from the rear seats.

They claim 10 new 'practical solutions' include a mechanically retractable towing device and a tablet holder in the rear.

I got the impression here that this latest Superb is about more than a new car. With a heavy emphasis on styling inside and out, there has been, like the Octavia, a discernible move upmarket - but without losing sight of its price-sensitive buyers.

Irish Independent

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