Monday 27 January 2020

Superb Combi-nation of size, power but is this Škoda worth €55,000?


Smooth operator: the revised Škoda Superb Combi
Smooth operator: the revised Škoda Superb Combi
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I've been waiting to say this for a while: I never thought I'd see the day when you'd pay the guts of €55,000 for a Škoda estate. That day is almost upon us. I have just been testing the revised Superb Combi as the estate version is called. The range-topping Laurin & Klement (L&K) model I drove had a €53,400 price tag. Add in delivery and related charges and you'll have little change out of €55,000.

That still doesn't make it the most expensive Škoda out there: the performance seven-seat Kodiaq RS costs €63,745.

But regardless of price, the Superb is aptly named in many ways. So much so there is the danger of falling into the trap of comparing it too sharply against the Mercs, Audis and Beemers of this world. Things don't really work like that. Posh is posh and the rest are mainstream. Yet, maybe, just maybe there is no harm in pointing to elements in the Combi that would challenge that presumption. I noted a few reasons worth taking into account:

l Leather seats manifested upmarket luxury;

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l The 190bhp 2-litre diesel highlighted ­hidden technologies - this can cover 1,100km on one tank.

l The massive passenger, boot space it affords.

Against that there were less-obvious plusses. For example, and despite revisionary tweaks, the handling and ride let it down a little. I expected a bit better. I'm being harsh, perhaps, by reminding myself of what some premium cars offer on that front. But I'm also acknowledging the reality that I want as much as I can get for my €55,000. The days of cheap Škodas are well and truly over. Henceforth the sentiment has to be value-for-money for enhanced spec and driving acumen. They set the price; it is up to the likes of me to set the standard of expectation accordingly.

I'd do the same if it applied to core rivals of the Superb: the Volkswagen Passat, Ford Mondeo, Opel Insignia, Hyundai i40, Mazda6, Peugeot 508, Kia Optima, etc.

And I would repeat the exercise for another set of competitors: fresh premium used-imports such as the Audi A4, BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-Class. The only thing is, however, that few, if any of those rivals, can boast such a combination of assets for that sort of money. It is quite something.

Anyway, after several short spins around town, I headed it into the west for same-day drives to Galway and back.

If ever a car was made for a smooth, effortless Sunday morning journey, this can lay legitimate claims to being considered among the front runners.

With four of us on board and the luggage gobbled up by a helicopter-pad size cargo area, we never felt the kilometres slipping by.

That is a fine 2-litre engine but I was a tad disappointed at the less-than-comprehensive noise containment.

It was fine at cruising speed, but too noticeable otherwise. I expected better.

My tall rear passengers were mighty happy with the amount of leg room afforded them; they enjoyed their snacks as they availed of the space and handiness of the central armrest's cupholders.

Something I really like about the current generation of Volkswagen group DSG (auto) transmissions is that you don't know they are there. The Superb's was seamless.

The whole car has benefited from a tranche of relatively minor upgrades. The individual effect is marginal unless you peer closely: for example narrower headlights with LED technology are now standard.

And the 'Škoda' name is now stretched across the bootlid - I really like the effect on the newer models I've driven since that became part of the integral design.

I'd also have to recognise the excellent parking aids, especially for the rear, because with a car this size and length, I feel I need all the help I can get.

I enjoyed my drives in this. It is the sort of car - at a lower trim/price admittedly - you would cherish if your annual mileage and/or family profile warranted a large, sturdy, comfortable motor.

Would I buy it?

Yes, I could see myself buying a Superb. But I'd go for a mid-level trim Liftback (not estate) with a less powerful 1.6-litre diesel engine (from €33,325).

Then I wouldn't think about buying a new car again for another seven years. I wonder what a new Superb would cost me then?


Facts & figures

Škoda Superb 2.0TD estate:

Top (L&K) spec, diesel 190bhp, auto, €200 tax, 5.2-l100km.

Spec includes leather seats, 9.2in t/screen nav system, wireless charging, 19in alloys, L&K badging, electric tailgate, heated seats, 10-speaker sound system, LED matrix headlights, 3-zone air con, driver assist systems. Extras: virtual cockpit, Adaptive Cruise Control, sunroof.

Price of car tested: €53,407

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