Wednesday 29 March 2017

Hurry up and make a Greenline to the showroom

Limousine level comfort with Band A taxation? It seemed impossible until we drove the new Skoda Superb Greenline

Y ou've got to have balls to call your car "Superb", but Skoda has been getting away with it since the 1930s and the latest version of the big saloon, the Greenline, has just hit Irish shores. Can it live up to the billing?

Every car maker has its own marketing tag for its greenest cars; Greenline is Skoda's eco-brand.

The shiny green badges on the Superb's front wings are more than just a marketing man's way to sell more cars.

The Superb Greenline's most important features include an engine stop-start system, low-rolling resistance tyres, modified aerodynamics and controlled charging of the battery to reduce energy loss.

These are subtle changes, for sure. You might spot the tiny boot spoiler and the 25mm lower ride height, but I doubt it.

The alloy wheel size is limited to 16-inches in diameter too, even though you can have the Greenline model in the top-spec Elegance specification. Really, who cares how Skoda does it, but this Superb is the first to slip into Band A for road tax and VRT.

As mentioned elsewhere, that means it's eligible for the scrappage scheme and annual road tax of just €104.

It's the only Superb that manages anywhere near this, and for once the buyer doesn't get screwed on the purchase price for choosing the eco-special.

Sure, the entry-level 1.4-litre petrol model is a little cheaper to buy (depending on trim level), but the difference is small, and that car costs a whopping €447 per annum to tax.

So you'd expect compromises, right? There don't seem to be many, to be honest.

At first, it seems strange that there's only a five-speed manual gearbox in a world dominated by six-speed transmissions, but the ratios are sensible enough and the engine is more than capable of chugging along in a low gear.

This is actually the only Superb you can buy with the Volkswagen Group's 1.6-litre TDI turbodiesel engine under the bonnet.

It's the least powerful engine available, with a modest 105bhp at its disposal, but it never feels slow in real life and it is relatively hushed -- unless you change down a gear to overtake.

In summary: it's a perfectly acceptable unit.

Elsewhere, the Superb is as appealing as ever. Without fail, when someone takes a look inside this car for the first time, they are taken aback by the amount of legroom in the rear.

I don't go around with a measuring tape in my back pocket, but I'd wager that there's as much legroom as in any standard wheelbase model in the BMW 7 Series class.

The boot is massive too, though I've never appreciated Skoda's "TwinDoor" concept. Most of the time, access to the luggage area is via what appears to be a regular saloon car boot door.

However, there's the option to open the whole rear of the car like a hatchback.

It sounds good in principle, but to get the hatch to open takes that little bit too much messing around. It's only a matter of seconds, but who has seconds to spare these days?

Admittedly, opening the hatch makes it way easier to get stuff into the car, but why not just make it a hatchback by default?

Actually, I must admit to coveting the Superb Combi. That's the estate version and it's probably my favourite family car of the moment.

Despite the extra sheet metal, the Greenline version of the estate is still in Band A and it is claimed that it will use the same 4.4 litres of diesel every 100 kilometres as the non-estate.

As ever, that figure is on the mythical combined cycle, which is carried out in laboratory conditions. Still, I averaged about 6.0 litres/100km over a few days of mixed driving in the saloon/hatchback so it's economical by any standards -- and especially so given the size of the car.

Superb greenline

Starting price: €25,115

Tax band: A

0-100km/h: 12.5 seconds

Fuel consumption:

4.4 litres/100km

Power output: 105bhp

Rivals: Volkswagen Passat,

Toyota Avensis

We like: Space, economy,

value

We don't like: Rear styling

Back to the estate, it adds no more than €1,000 to the price of the car in Greenline specification and, family carrying ability aside, I reckon it looks a lot better at the rear than the regular car. Still, Irish buyers are continuing to shun estates for some reason.

Driving one with Superb written on the back could be a ballsy move too far -- but it's one I'd highly recommend though.

S O'D

Sunday Independent Supplement

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