Thursday 14 December 2017

Skoda backing Superb to drive its success to fresh new heights

New model moves upmarket, but value is still paramount, writes Martin Brennan

To celebrate 120 years in business Skoda is pulling out all the stops to attract new customers to the value-for-money brand in a bid to achieve worldwide record sales. On the way is a new Superb, the flagship model, a new large SUV is expected to be signed off shortly, a new Yeti is in the wings for 2017 and there are plans to launch a new or revised model every six months. New engines that are up to 23pc more fuel efficient with up to 18pc lower C02 emissions are here for some models in the range - and zero per cent PCP finance on certain cars has just been announced to capture 152 sales in July.

All this concerted activity is to push sales globally to 1.5 million units by 2018, but while models like the new Superb are going upmarket in terms of style and equipment there is a determination to keep the value-for-money sign over the door. Head of Skoda Dr Winfried Vahland has indicated that he does not want new models to be considered expensive when they arrive.

Speaking of a new era for Skoda, he believes that the Superb is the spearhead for the future of new models and although there are major improvements in the new model he is as good as his word and prices here have been kept close to the outgoing version, going up by just €1,001 at the entry level.

On the best-selling 1.6TDi Ambition version the price rise is €1,245, which Skoda say compares to the €1,755 price increase when the new Passat was launched and €2,125 on the new Mondeo at similar levels.

Like all cars of the future the new Superb has shed weight, 75kgs despite getting bigger - 28mm longer, 47mm wider and 6mm taller on a wheelbase stretched by 80mm. The luxury length rear legroom remains the same but, there is now more elbow room and headroom. Also up in size is the already cavernous boot.

The extra 30 litres brings space to 625 litres and 1,760 litres with seats folded. Sadly, the unique twin-hinge system which allowed for hatchback or saloon type opening of the boot has been ditched for styling reasons.

The new look is called Liftback, not hatchback. Included are nice touches such as an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap, a magnetic torch and two umbrellas slotted into the doors.

The saloon version arrives here just weeks after the start of the July sales blitz and an estate version in the autumn. Both face stiff competition from new Mondeo, the Opel Insignia with new engines, first cousin Passat and a significantly-refreshed Toyota Avensis, which is on the way. The new lines give a more stylist look and sitting on VW's latest MQB platform the driving experience is top notch, with quiet easy cruising even at high speeds. The ride quality has been significantly improved.

Low running costs are now the order of the day and the weight reduction helps here. The most popular power plant here will be the 1.6 TDI 120bhp (increased from 105bhp) which Skoda say can return 3.9L/100km with €180 annual road tax thanks to the 14 per cent less C02 emissions now down to 100g/km.

A good power/economy combination which can be bought for €27,795 at entry level and €30,295 with the Ambition level of trim which includes Hill Hold, Speed Limiter, Front Assist anti-collision, Touchscreen, Smart Screen technology and improved lighting front and rear. Fuel at 3.9L/100km is down 13pc and acceleration is improved by 10pc. This model is expected to account for 53pc of sales.

A more exciting drive is available from the 2.0TDI 150bhp unit, up from 140bhp with a 15pc improvement in fuel consumption and improved C02 output down to 105g/km from 119g/km. This model, at €32,195 in Ambition specification will account for another 33pc of sales and a further 14pc of sales will be taken up by a 2.0TDi 190bhp version at €33,395.ed at €32,195 returning 4L/100km and €190 annual road tax. On the petrol side a top performer is the 2.0-litre TSI putting out 280bhp. There are options of four-wheel-drive and seven-speed DSG automatic brings very little in the way of penalty in the L/Kms stakes over the six-speed manual transmission. The entry-level petrol model is a 1.4-litre TSI

Equipment available includes three-zone air conditioning electric sunroof, heated seats, automatic wipers and lights, controls that allow for choice of Comfort, Normal and Sport driving modes which cover steering, accelerator, gearbox and suspension functions. The top kit comes on the Laurin & Klement version which has heated front and rear seats and a 10-speaker audio system. The target is to sell 821 new and old Superb models this year with forecast sales of 1,150 saloon and 620 estate models in 2016.

For the more bread-and-butter Skoda models there is a new package of goodies to coincide with the arrival of 152 registrations. New Euro 6 compliant petrol and diesel engines are here, some with fuel economy improved by 23pc and C02 emissions reduced by 18pc. All Rapid, Octavia and Yeti models get new technologies such as variable valve timing and the latest Stop/Start technology.

Sunday Independent

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