Skoda Superb 2016 Review
Skoda says it doesn’t want to get into the luxury car business... If that’s the case, somebody needs to let the product planners and designers of the new Superb know!
Looked at through the luxury cars lens, this big, well-equipped wagon makes a fair fist of it. As an alternate to the regular suspects in the family wagon genre, it’s an even more impressive offering.
There’s a touch of real class to the cabin, which can be equally described as austere or minimalist, depending on your viewpoint. There’s room to burn for driver, passengers and recidivist over-packers and virtually every comfort you’d want in a real world car.
And in the 206TSI tested performance is excellent. The turbo four-cylinder petrol engine is seriously muted (this is a quiet car) but still sounds engaging and there’s no forward momentum wasted in wheelspin. AWD traction delivers a claimed 0-100km/h in 5.8sec.
For some, our top-spec Superb tester – priced from $52,690 – appears at first flush a little expensive. But consider this, some cooking brand medium SUVs are now in this region. And then when you look at the list of equipment that’s standard and the level of execution, the numbers will start to work.
All Superbs get autonomous braking and adaptive cruise as standard. High-spec navigation and Apple CarPlay are also standard, as are bi-xenon adaptive headlights and LED taillights. The front seats are heated and in this spec also ventilated. There is, as you’d expect, a full suite of safety equipment.
In Skoda tradition, clever storage options include wee rubbish bins in each front door pocket and a tablet holder that can be fitted to the rear armrest or the front headrest stays. Skoda even includes two umbrellas. One stored in each front door.
The 206TSI all-wheel drive’s spec sheet goes even further – as you’d expect for the model sitting at the very top of the Superb offering Down Under. That said, in reality, there is no such thing as a poverty pack Superb, as in recent years Skoda has moved to up-spec and de-clutter its local offerings. Options are limited and grouped into ‘packs’, which the company claims delivers even better value to buyers.
Back to our 206, it totalled $60,190 and included metallic Paint ($700), full-length ‘pano’ sunroof ($1900) and both packs Skoda offers on this rangetopper: Tech and Comfort.
Priced at $3400 but claimed to deliver almost $6000 worth of value, the Tech Pack for the 206TSI includes Adaptive Chassis Control, steering and lane assist, blind spot detection, hands free tailgate operation, auto park, rear traffic alert and more. Premium audio is also part of the offer.
The Comfort Pack is a further $1500 and adds the abovementioned ventilation to the front seats, heating to the second row, front passenger seat ‘remote’ controls (remarkably handy) and a higher quality leather in the choice of black or beige. Skoda claims the total value of this add on is over $2500.
To get the equipment levels in an Audi you’ll be paying circa $25K more, and in that case you will be a segment down in terms of size. Even the Skoda’s cousin under the skin, the latest Volkswagen Passat wagon, is still a touch smaller in terms of rear space (at 2791 versus 2841 its wheelbase is 50mm shorter) and luggage capacity (650/1780 litres v 660/1950). It’s currently not available in performance/AWD petrol version, nor with the mountain of spec Superb offers.
This is a family car par excellence that wants for little... Except maybe brand recognition from your neighbours.
Our drive of the Superb was short and involved just a few days in and around Melbourne. But as a confirmed and long-time admirer of the brand (a declaration of bias, if ever there was one) it put a smile on my dial.
I did my best to ensure the standard four-stage frontal collision warning system and autonomous braking wasn’t required, but used to its full extent the adaptive cruise control that will shepherd you to a full stop.
Skoda calls this version Traffic Jam Assist. In the inevitable gridlock of commuting it brings you to a stop and the idle stop kicks in and you sit at the lights feet off the pedals in near silence. Like the best systems from brands like Mercedes-Benz, all you need then do to kick things off is touch the accelerator. Auto steering helps keep you in the lane.
It’s a fuss-free drive and thanks to adaptive dampers in Comfort mode a pretty cushy drive.
You’ll want to firm things up on the freeway and in the curves, but that too is just the push of a button away, thanks to a drive-mode select system that is also standard in the top-spec model. An Indivdual setting delivers a retinue of settings you can adjust just so.
The Superb is never what you’d call a truly sporty drive but in 206TSI form the 206kW/350Nm four under the bonnet ensures it’s definitely fast enough.
It’s brisk off the line but of more importance to most of us is overtaking acceleration and the ability to cruise comfortably at highway pace. In conjunction with a well mannered (and hesitation free, it must be said) six-speed DSG auto gearbox, this powertrain ticks both boxes.
colleague had issues with it failing to recognise a hazard. All such systems need to be used with care. I’ve had a similar issue with my XC90 long-term tester – none of them are perfect it seems.
As most of my miles were commuting, the observed fuel economy figure is probably of little value to you. For the record, the gazetted fuel economy for the 206TSI wagon is 7.2L/100km. My average was under 10.
The rather solid elephant in the room with Skoda is resale value. Skoda would contend that it’s on the improve and not far off its counterpart brands. It says the issue was ‘created’ in the very early days of its relaunch Down Under.
Be that as it may, it’s moved to provide financing options that deliver guaranteed minimum residual values. Along with fully inclusive three and five-year maintenance packages, it’s asking consumers to take a second look and do their sums.
If I wasn’t in the (very) fortunate position of getting to drive different cars every week as part of this job, I’d be doing exactly that. There’s an anti-hero quality to the Skoda badge and brand that appeals to me.