Skoda has redesigned, refined and repriced its big car, the 2016 Skoda Superb. It’s bigger, got better engines, and is more refined. In our full review and road test, we find out how many hyperbolic positives we can throw at it.
Verdict: The 2016 Skoda Superb is more of the same from the Czech car builder. And that means, room to swing several cats, especially in the back seat, good driving dynamics and a decent equipment list.
WHAT IS IT?
Skoda is one of the five oldest car brands in the world and, last year it sold more than 1.55 million cars worldwide. And sales, locally, were up 23%. The Octavia is Skoda’s biggest seller locally, accounting for 16% of sales. Of those, the sporty RS model grabs almost half, and the Octavia RS wagon at $46,680 is the single biggest seller in the range. As for the outgoing Superb, most buyers bypassed the more affordable Ambition model and opted for the Elegance (78%).
There are three variants in the new Superb line-up, one petrol engine in two states of tune (two variants) and one diesel (one variant). And there are both sedan and wagon options - the wagons add $1700 to the price tag.
The new Skoda Superb gains, compared with its predecessor, length (28mm), width (47mm), height (6mm) and a longer wheelbase (80mm). This translates to an additional 60 litres of luggage space, more elbow room (39mm up front and 69mm in the rear) and manages to retain the already impressive rear seat leg room of the previous model. Indeed, rear legroom is 157mm and rear headroom has been increased by 25mm to 980mm.
The Skoda sedan is actually a hatchback (or, to be even more specific, a “liftback” like the mid-80s Toyota Camry). The sedan has a cargo area of 625 litres while the wagon is 660 litres and with the passenger seat folded, can accommodate items up to 3.1 metres long – and luggage capacity can be increased to 1750 litres (sedan) or 1950 litres (wagon) by folding down the rear seats. The front passenger seat can be electrically adjusted from the rear as part of the Comfort Pack. Puddle lights illuminate the under-seat area and there are floor mats with comfort foot rests.
The entry-level 162TSI sets the bar at $39,990 (plus on road costs). Next is the 140TDI at $43,990 (+ORC) and the range tops out with the all-wheel drive 206TSI at $50,990 (+ORC). That’s a price hike over the outgoing models that ranged from $31,990 to $46,690. Offsetting the increase, there’s more equipment, better engines, more space and, most importantly, more prestige.
Key changes include new safety systems, driver assist systems (although not standard across the range), and better connectivity. There’s adaptive chassis control including driver mode selection which is a first for Skoda. There’s three-zone air conditioning (driver, passenger and rear seat, all individually adjustable), heated seats (standard up front, part of the optional Comfort Pack in the rear). Automatic parking assist is available as part of the Tech Pack, although a rear view camera is standard across the range.
There are three extra-cost option packs. The Image Pack ($1700) is available on both the 162TSI and 140TDI models, adding 19-inch anthracite alloy wheels, keyless entry and start and alarm, driving mode selection, LED interior ambient lighting, gearshift paddles and sports suspension lowered by 15mm over standard.
The Tech Pack ($4700 or $3400 when fitted to the 206TSI 4x4) includes the auto parking system, lane assist, side assist (blind spot monitoring), rear traffic alert, traffic jam assist, emergency assist, adaptive chassis control, hands-free tailgate opening and a premium 12-speaker Canton sound system. The Tech Pack can be specified for any model.
The Comfort Pack ($1500) adds perforated leather upholstery (in beige or black – the beige looks more luxurious, but will certainly be harder to keep clean), front ventilated seats with cooling function, heated rear seats and electric adjustment from the rear for the front passenger seat.
WHAT'S IT LIKE?
The petrol engines put out 162kW/350Nm in the front-wheel drive car and 206kW/350Nm in the top-spec all-wheel drive model. The diesel variant produces 140kW and 400Nm of torque. Transmission on all is a dual-clutch DSG. The all-wheel drive model uses an electronically controlled multi-clutch coupling. Torque is mainly delivered to the front wheels with rear wheel drive only being activated as necessary, as calculated by the control unit. Overall weight is down by as much as 75kg.
On the road, the Superb is a small step ahead of its predecessor and the old model was no handling slouch. It's a big car, for sure, but it doesn't feel it and while the steering is a little numb feeling it's well weighted and direct in its action. The gearbox works well with the engines and the suspension does a good job of ironing out the worst of the roads humps and bumps.
Skoda’s adaptive chassis control, available only as part of the extra-cost Tech Pack, allows the driver to individually adjust the driving characteristics to personal preference. There are three settings – standard, sport, comfort, eco or individual, selected by pressing a button on the central console. In “eco” mode, the engine management system, air conditioning and other auxiliaries are "optimised" to save fuel and “coasting” mode is possible with the DSG shifting into neutral when the driver is not accelerating. Individual mode allows drivers to configure different parameters to suit their personal driving style.
Safety levels have, according to Skoda, not been seen in this segment before. Electronic stability control with multi-collision brake is standard, as are front assist with city emergency brake, the afore-mentioned rear view camera, fatigue detection, passenger protect assist, electronic tyre pressure monitoring, nine airbags, Bi-Xenon headlights, parking sensors front and rear, active headrest and XDL, an enhanced function of the electronic differential lock.
Connectivity has been addressed and the Superb gets a new infotainment system that includes SmartLink (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). The system gets a colour touchscreen (with VAG’s clever anticipation feature that brings up controls as you finger nears the screen). The standard sat nav system displays in 3D on the 8-inch screen and for the first time, the route can be altered by touching a waypoint. Another clever touch is the tablet holder allowing a tablet to be mounted on either the front seat headrest or the rear armrest.