Simply, it is quite Superb
Despite being tainted by the VW scandal, Skoda has produced a brilliant executive car, says Campbell Spray
A little while ago I had some fun over the naming conventions in Skoda which gets it wrong quite often, if not as many times as it gets it right. The Rapid hatchback/saloon was exactly not that while the original Yeti gave a car with great personality just the amount of loveable ruggedness to score highly with both families and the outdoor brigade.
I always thought that the Czech company was being overambitious in naming their big executive/family car Superb when it was launched in 2001. In fact it was the resurrection of a name used by Skoda for luxurious saloons between 1934 and 1949, a wartime version of which was used by Rommel, the German Army commander, as his staff car. The 2001 Superb was basically a stretched version of the Volkswagen Passat; VW being Skoda's overall controller. The model was totally refreshed in 2008 and now the third generation Superb has been launched.
And it pains me a bit to say this, especially in the light of VW's emissions scandal, that the Superb is exactly that. A stonkingly good car that totally lives up to its name and quite happily could ply its trade alongside Audi and Mercedes-Benz. It would probably beat them as well. The car is competitively priced and will hold its value well. A taxi-driver told me the other day that he and his colleagues would bite your arm off if they were offered a second-hand, well-looked after, Superb. Yet, there is a bit of an issue with the pricing. While the range starts at €26,795 for the 1.4 125bhp petrol model in the basic "active" trim, the test car in "style" trim and with an automatic box and 2.0 150bhp diesel came in at €12,100 more and then when tinted rear windows, electric tailgate, 18" alloys, panoramic glass sunroof and blind spot direction were added in, the car cost €41,664 before p&p of €600. This is now a long way from the basic offering and even further from the fancy posters offering a very affordable PCP option of €289 a month, think €420.
Yet - and this shows how good the car is - I would go for the whole caboodle and make the car as plush and safe as you can. Even the basic model is good but go higher and you are in a different league still with more room, comfort and safety than pretty basic premium level cars which it outshines. If you are picking up relatives from the airport they won't know what hits them. It's a pity there is such badge snobbery out there. It is also a shame that the company will be tainted by the wider Volkswagen scandal. I still don't think you can trust a word they say at the moment. There is such fudge over numbers, guilt and consequences. As Ben says on the right, the company needs a total makeover.
I hope Skoda add more petrol models to the Superb range, it will be a car for long journeys and high mileage but for some it won't be and decent, well-specced petrol options should be there.
I don't like the trend for saloons and liftbacks to get lower and lower. It is probably fine for zipping along the motorway but, on the whole, passengers like a view. But hey, maybe that's my age; yet my partner and dog do agree.
Last Thursday I was lucky to get a taxi home in a 2011 Superb estate. The driver couldn't praise the car enough.
"Beautiful, it's done 250,000kms and not one bit of trouble," he declared. He was a bit concerned that the load area was pushed to take four sets of golf clubs but that was "the least of his concerns" in life and it was a niggle "hardly worth mentioning". I don't think he would have the same issue with the massive liftback of the new Superb. There are also two umbrellas secreted in the front doors. How cool is that?
I haven't talked about the incredible acceleration of the test car, the massive room in the back or the great economy. That's for you to check out. Unfortunately it's still a VW marque and many second generation Superbs will be recalled for changes in their emissions system.
Nonetheless this car could be car of the year. It is getting praise across all sectors. Superb by name and deed.