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Skoda Superb Road Test

Introduction

 

The previous generation Skoda Superb which was launched in 2009 in India was a big hit. Not only it felt luxurious but thanks to its humongous size it had enough knee room to embarrass many ultra-lavish limousines. Although it had every attribute to make it a phenomenal sedan, one thing it lacked was premium exterior. Its odd proportions made it look like purpose over finesse. The stretched profile, stubby boot and tiny wheels didn’t cut with some people who were paying more than Rs 20 lakh for their luxury sedan. 

Well not anymore. The new Superb you see in this review looks as expensive as the amount of cheque you have to sign. And if it drives and feels anything like the old car then Skoda definitely has a giant killer at their disposal. Read our comprehensive Roadtest to know what this pretty looking Superb feels from behind the wheel.

Design and Style

Rating : 7/10

The latest Superb looks nothing like its predecessor and that’s a good thing. Out go the boring lines of the older car and in comes a fresh, bold new look thanks to a more modern and well-rounded design. All the bulges and creases are well proportioned, and the Superb looks really matured and attractive from all angles. The nose resembles the smaller Octavia and it looks very similar in profile too -- the strong shoulder line that rises from the front bumper to the tail-light and the short overhangs makes it looks sporty and purposeful. The tapering roofline flows into the chunky tail, which adds to the elegant stance. Neat creases and beautifully detailed tail-lights further embellish the new Superb’s style quotient.

This new Superb is around 23mm longer than the one it replaces, but housed within the 4861mm length is a wheelbase that’s a massive 80mm longer than before, allowing the engineers to have better packaging options. The Superb is much wider too which should give the cabin the much needed width which the earlier car lacked.

 

Like the Skoda Octavia, the Superb is based on VW’s modern MQB platform. Some years ago  a platform could be stretched across only a narrow range of models. The old Laura platform couldn’t be used for the Superb for example. But thanks to the massive strides in terms of chassis design and intelligent use of high-strength materials this no longer is the case. As with the MQB platform, VW can pick whichever dimensions it likes, so the front overhang, rear overhang and space between the wheels are all open to change. As a result most of the VW products are based on this modern platform right from the small Audi TT sportscar to this XL size sedan. This not only helps VW save costs but it also means all the MQB cars can be run on the same production line. 

Skoda has left out the heavy and complex double-jointed hatch of the old car (The old Superb’s could be opened like a sedan or a notchback) and now the boot opens only in the notch form.

As the Superb is raised for India it doesn’t get adjustable dampers like the European model. It has a conventional MacPherson struts front suspension. But at the rear it is suspended via a modern multi-link layout.

The Skoda Superb turned out to be much heavier on the weighing scale as compared to the claimed figures. The petrol manual was the lightest at 1530kg(claimed is 1494kg). The petrol auto was up next and it tipped the scales at 1555kg(claimed is 1540kg) and the diesel was by far the heaviest with a figure of 1620kg (claimed is 1565kg)

Interiors

Rating : 7/10

The niche that the old Superb carved for itself just under the premium sedan market is thanks not only to its large cabin but was also down to luxurious interiors. With the new car Skoda have gone even more upmarket and the interior is high on quality and craftsmanship. The soft touch plastics on the upper portion of the dashboard lends it class and subtle use of chrome in key areas liven up the cabin. The dials, switchgear and infotainment are all recognisable, both in appearance and positioning. The driving position is elevated, but not upsettingly so, and instrumentation is superbly clear. The only downside is that the dashboard design and most of the switches are shared with the cheaper Octavia.

 

At the front the large seats are very comfortable and the well contoured backrest keeps you into place. The host of steering and seat adjustment lets you find your ideal driving position quite easily. At the rear the kneeroom is just phenomenal and even the Great Khali and the Big Show will have enough room to have a wrestling match in here. What they won’t like though is that the seat squab is bit too short and underthigh support could have been more generous. But other than that there are no reasons to complain and the Superb can rival cars five times its price for comfort. The wider cabin also means the third rear passenger has enough width to be more comfortable than before. But like the old car the occupant of the middle perch will have their feet astride a sizable transmission tunnel. But atleast there there’s enough shoulder room for it to be bearable. 

Like the old car the new Superb is very practical thanks to loads of cup, bottle holders and other storage spaces for knick-knacks. But it’s the massive 625 litre boot which takes the cake. It’s well shaped, the loading lip is reasonably low and the hatch opening just makes it very easy to load large bags. Even in case your wife throws you out of the house, you can fold the rear seat of the Superb to have your own king size bed at the back.

 

Safety and Equipment

Rating : 6/10

Highlights of the equipment list on the Style variant are keyless entry, a 6.5-inch colour touch screen infotainment system, leather seats, electric driver seat and bi-xenon headlamps with curve light assistant. Buyers also get eight airbags, multi collision brake, parking sensors with camera and dual-zone climate control. Unique additions to the L&K variant are the three-zone climate control, electric boot lid, boss button (front passenger seat position electrically controlled from rear seat), cooled front seats, fatigue detection and a virtual pedal (contact free access for the boot).

 

Engine, Performance and Braking

Rating : 7/10

The Superb comes powered by the same 1.8 litre petrol and 2.0 litre diesel as before. But now both the engines are upgraded and make much more power and torque than before.

Let’s start with the diesel first. Powering it is the 1968cc four-cylinder turbodiesel motor. It now makes a much healthier 174bhp (34bhp than before) and a higher 350Nm of torque. Thanks to the extra horses, the engine is more flexible and a wider powerband means overtaking is much easier. It’s more free-revving too, and does not feel out of breath at the top end of the rev band anymore.

Refinement is good, performance is ample and this, coupled with the car’s good low speed ride, makes it a fine urban machine.  As ever, this engine’s biggest strength is its chunky mid-range and the 6-speed dual clutch auto gearbox does a good job of sensing when you need it the most. The ’box also works well to get you through the slight turbo lag, and it’s very happy to hop straight to sixth and sit there when you’re cruising on the highway. The only grouse is that the gearbox tends to get a bit confused while cruising, when you press on the throttle for the occasional overtake. This is when it jerks a bit and the kickdown is not as swift as we would have liked. 

Thanks to the upgraded engine the new car posted much quicker times than the old one. In flat-out acceleration the new car does the dash to 100kph in 8.3sec, which is nearly three seconds faster than the old car. The gap just gets bigger as you go faster and 160kph in the new car comes up in 18.52seconds - that’s a massive 8 seconds faster than the old car. In the 20-80kph third-gear slog, the updated engine pips the old model by two seconds, while in the 40-100kph run in fourth gear, it’s quicker by more than two seconds.

 

But if you love driving then it has to be the 1.8-litre TSI motor you have to opt for. This updated EA888 motor now develops 17bhp more than before and like before, it just feels special and willing. Although the power figure of 177bhp is identical, surprisingly the automatic version is down by a massive 70Nm of torque. We suspect this as a safety precaution, as the DQ200 dual clutch auto has had reliability issues in the past. 

Like before this motor feels silky smooth and refined right through its rev range and it emits a very addictive snarl when you really wring it out. At lower rpms there is some hesitation from the motor (more apparent in the manual transmission), but pass 2500rpm and you are pushed back in the comfortable seat as the Superb accelerates in a linear tidal wave. The 7-speed automatic gearbox though is a bit hesitant especially in D mode, as it rapidly upshifts in the interest of fuel efficiency and then gets confused when you change your throttle position. In manual mode though the Superb feels the best, it will downshift on demand, accompanied by a blip from the throttle. 

Speaking of which, enthusiasts might rejoice for the fact that Skoda is still offering a manual version with this engine. The gearshifts are direct and the short throws make it a joy to use. Not so good is the clutch pedal which is on the heavier side and has a springy action..  

That said, the manual version is slightly quicker than the automatic Superb. The manual gets to 100kph in 8.67sec, which is just 0.3 sec quicker than the auto. The slower times of the petrol auto is also due to the DSG gearbox’s protection mode, which doesn’t allow a proper launch off the line. 

In the top L&K version you also get three preset driving modes, namely eco, normal and sport. In Eco mode the gearbox rapidly upshifts in pursuit of fuel efficiency and throttle responses are dull too. In the Normal mode the gearbox becomes more responsive but the automatic upshifts rapidly in this mode too. However, in sport mode the throttle responses are more instant and the gearbox holds lower gears to keep you in the power band for instant response. In addition to these you also get an Individual mode that allows the driver to set up preferences for steering weight, gearbox and engine.

Ride and Handling

Rating : 6/10

Where the old Superb had the ability to really surprise you with its agility despite its humongous size, the new one unfortunately has no surprises in store and it feels big and in some ways cumbersome to drive. The biggest disappointment is the steering, which simply doesn’t feel as precise as the old car anymore. It’s got a dead zone around the straight-ahead position and it simply misses the feel that the old car had. Skoda has also gone for a much softer setup and as a result the new Superb rolls considerably more and it feels like a heavy car too. On the plus side, the wide Hankook tyres provide loads of grip and confidence. Don’t be mistaken, the Superb is not a bad handling car, but it doesn’t feel as willing or as nimble as the old one.

On the contrary, the ride has taken a step in the right direction and the old car’s stiff-kneed low-speed ride is replaced by a plush one and soft suspension dismisses the biggest of potholes with ease. But at higher speeds the Superb does tend to pitch and bounce especially over uneven surfaces and it feels best when driven at moderate speeds.

Price and Fuel Economy

Rating : 5/10

The petrol manual Superb is the cheapest variant you can buy and it is priced at a reasonable  Rs 23.83 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The top of the line L&K petrol auto costs a hefty Rs 28.25 lakh (ex-Delhi) and the diesel variant costs a whopping Rs 30.85 lakh. 

As far as fuel efficiency is concerned the Superb, especially in the diesel form, fares well. The diesel returned an impressive figure of 11kmpl in the city and 15.7kmpl on the highway. The petrol automatic on the other hand registered figures of 9.1kmpl in the city and 13.2kmpl on the highway. The manual petrol was marginally efficient with 9.4kmpl in the city and 13.5kmpl on the highway.

Verdict

Rating : 7/10

The new Superb is a convincing piece of evidence that this Skoda is well capable of being a credible option to the likes of the much more expensive Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4. That’s a great compliment for a car that is around Rs 20 lakh cheaper and like its predecessor, the new Superb still remains a giant killer.

Obviously it doesn’t have the premium badge, the charismatic warmth and dynamic verve of say a Mercedes C-class or the BMW 3 Series. Still, its combination of space, visual presence, apparent quality, sophisticated technology, strong performance, supple ride and relaxing demeanour sets it apart. This new luxury sedan from Czechoslovakia is a huge step forward over its predecessor and it has a wide arsenal to take on cars even twice its price. 

 
Pictures: Kapil Angane 
 
Click here to read the Superb First Drive
 
Click here for Features and Specifications
 

Specification

CAR NAME Skoda Superb
Variant L&K TDI A/T L&K TSI A/T  Style TSI M/T
ENGINE  
Fuel Diesel Petrol Petrol 
Installation Front, transverse
Displacement 4 cyls, 1968cc 4 cyls, 1798cc 4 cyls, 1798cc 
Bore/stroke 81.0/95.1mm 82.5/84.1mm 82.5/84.1mm 
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 
Power 174bhp at 3600-4000rpm 177bhp at 5100-6200rpm 177bhp at 4000-6200rpm 
Torque 350nm at 1500-3500rpm 250nm at 1250-5000rpm 320nm at 1450-3900rpm 
Power to weight 107.40bhp per tonne 113.82bhp per tonne 115.68bhp per tonne 
Torque to weight 216.04Nm per tonne 160.77Nm per tonne 209.15Nm per tonne 
Gearbox 6-speed dual clutch auto 7-speed dual clutch auto 6-speed manual 
CHASSIS & BODY  
Construction Five-door notchback, monocoque
Kerb weight(measured) 1620kg 1555kg 1530kg 
Tyres 215/55 R17
Spare 205/55 R16
STEERING  
Type Rack and pinion, Electronic power steering
Turning circle 11.1m
BRAKES  
Front Ventilated discs
Rear Discs
Anti-lock Yes

Test Data

PERFORMANCE & BRAKING  
0-20kph 1.01s 1.44s   1.48s 
0-40kph 2.28s 2.72s  2.64s
0-60kph 3.69s 4.37s  4.30s
0-80kph 5.79s 6.45s  5.94s
0-100kph 8.30s 8.90s  8.67s
0-120kph 11.78s 12.09s  11.43s
0-140kph 15.91s 15.98  14.89s
0-160kph 21.49s 21.14  19.80s
0-180kph 31.39 NA  25.84s
0-200kph NA NA  NA
       
20-80kph in kickdown*/3rd gear 5.19s* 4.92s*  9.81s
40-100kph in kickdown*/4th gear 6.46s* 5.86s*  12.41s
       
80-0kph 23.08m 2.03s
FUEL ECONOMY  
City 10.8kmpl 8.9kmpl  9.4kmpl
Highway 15.2kmpl 13.1kmpl  13.7kmpl
Tank size 66 litres 66 litres  66 litres
Range(75% City and 25% highway) 730km 620km  650s
INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS  
Front  
Legroom(Max/min) 805/570mm
Headroom(Max/min) 940mm
Shoulder room 1450mm
Seat base length 495mm
Backrest height 600mm
Rear   
Legroom(Max/min) 970/720mm
Ideal legroom 770mm
Headroom 950mm
Shoulder room 1400mm
Seat base length 485mm
Backrest height 640mm
Boot 625 litres
Length/width/height 1190/1010/540mm
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Skoda Superb Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Bangalore₹ 32.92 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 28.97 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 31.63 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 30.4 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 31.38 Lakhs onwards
Mumbai₹ 31.18 Lakhs onwards
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