Saturday 16 December 2017

Big car, low price is Superb

Better kit: The new Skoda Superb
Better kit: The new Skoda Superb

Martin Brennan

Badge snobbery is a thing of the past. So say Skoda who, nowadays, is proving that top engineering and design with in-built luxury features is the winning formula - if the price is right. Going upmarket without upsetting a loyal fan base, who put value for money as a priority, is the task facing the brand these days. It has worked with the high-selling, widely acclaimed Octavia and the new Fabia has an entry point of less than €14,000 in the super-mini class.

Now comes a new version of the flagship model, the bigger and better kitted out Superb. It was launched with great fanfare on home turf in Prague and arrives here in August (an estate version in September). Although prices have not yet been agreed for our market, Skoda bosses say their bigger car will be priced below the Passat at entry level, or have higher specification if the price levels converge.

Skoda marketing people know that keeping their cost advantage over the VW cousin and other rivals is essential, and any increase on the current model will be 'modest'. Good news for fans of the Superb 'big car, low price' brigade. Current Superb prices start at €25,995.

Sales last year ran at 800 saloon and 300 estate models. The new model will be unavailable for most of this year, but 2016 sales are expected to run at 1,150 saloons and 600 estates, 98pc of which will be diesel.

The B segment in which the Superb sells is expected to grow considerably over this period because other new arrivals, such as the VW Passat and Ford Mondeo, have increased interest in a segment that is bringing increased economy allied to luxury car specification to the showrooms. The new car market is expected to grow 25pc this year and a further 20pc next year. Sales this year are now expected to reach 120,000.

The Superb is now the widest in its class and the boot is 30 litres bigger on an already huge load area, rising to 1,760 litres with rear seats folded.

The exterior design is sleeker with a more stylish rear end than the outgoing model. The double-hinge boot lid, which offered saloon/hatchback opening options, is gone for styling and weight reasons. Now the 'liftback', as Skoda describe it, is hinged from the roof and is sculpted in a way that gives it a saloon-type look.

The weight has been reduced by 75kg, which helps fuel economy figures. The big seller here is expected to be the 1.6 TDi up from 105bhp to 120bhp which, it is claimed, can return 3.9L/100l with 100g/km CO2 emissions, attracting an annual road tax of €180.

Two two-litre TDi engines with 150bhp and 190bhp output are on offer, with only marginally higher fuel consumption and €190 road tax. On the petrol side, there is an entry-level 1.4 litre and a high-performance 2-litre TSi with 280bhp. There are 7-speed DSG gearbox and 4x4 options. Equipment levels are high, including Dynamic Chassis Control and three- zone air conditioning.

Sunday Independent

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