IT makes sense on the coldest day of the winter so far to stay warmly wrapped up in bed and avoid going out in the cold.
But thanks to Skoda’s attention to detail that was not an option. Duty called because tucked inside the fuel filler flap of the Skoda Superb test car on the driveway was an ice scraper that demanded to be tested on the car’s glass before the day warmed up. So outside it was, scraper in hand to see how it performed. The answer? Admirably, despite its necessarily small size.
The Superb is now in its third generation, regularly finding a second life among the cab trade and fulfilling a role that in other parts of the world would be the job of a pre-owned Mercedes.
In the UK we have come to realise that travelling in a Skoda is quite good enough – in fact it’s probably better than in any potential German big-name rival thanks to Skoda’s devotion to detail.
If that cold day had been a wet day, for instance, there’s a brace of umbrellas tucked into the tops of the doors so that you’ve always got one handy.
There are other things, too, like the ISOFix mountings in the rear seat. They consist of hard plastic channels with plugs for when they are not in use. Pull out the plugs and the ISOFix jaws of a child restraint are directed straight onto the bars they grip. It’s a 10 second job while other makers still use mountings that are so difficult to access behind trim that it’s tempting to ignore them altogether.
Skoda has been clever with the Superb in other ways, too. It sits in a market sector where, in some countries, a conventional saloon that’s seen as more formal for executives is preferred to a hatchback, a design rated more practical by other nationalities.
So although the Superb has a three box design and the rear window appears fixed into the body because the gap around it is invisible the car actually has a full tailgate. On the SE L Executive test car, the tailgate was power operated so there was no heavy opening and closing involved. But a screen wash / wipe is the one detail Skoda has overlooked.
Almost as impressive as the equipment is the price; just £27,950 could see you driving this well-equipped car including the DSG automated manual gearbox which was top rate in all but the coldest conditions when it gave a jerky start away from standstill.
Skoda has some extras it recommends for the SE L Executive, among them 19 inch Trinity style alloy wheels. We would prefer the standard 18 inch Zenith items that allow extra sidewall depth to iron out more of the bumps. The only downside to the test car was a slight harshness in its ride that took the edge off possibly the most comfortable VW Group seats we’ve ever enjoyed 45 years or so of testing them (bar those of the 1972 Audi 100 which we drove when new and bought 10 years later).
There are a couple of other options worth having. The £135 heated steering wheel and £50 heated washer nozzles are a must, as is the £100 for a temporary spare wheel that should be standard fit. The rest of the £3,635 that had been spent on options could be kept in your pocket unless you wanted to pull a caravan, when the £765 integrated tow bar would be essential.
The Superb is a grand looking car, with long, low lines that don’t limit interior headroom and razor edge styling that complements the generally curvaceous panels. Whichever seat you occupy within its capacious cabin will envelope you in comfort and there really is space for five adults, although with just four on board you feel as if you are travelling in a limo that should cost far more.
With a 150 PS 2.0 litre turbodiesel out front, there’s the promise of vigorous performance yet tolerable economy. Skoda claims 61.4mpg on the combined cycle but in everyday driving any driver should be satisfied with the real-world 45mpg we achieved over several hundred miles. The car has a realistic range of around 575 miles between fill-ups.
There’s 1,760 litres of load space with the seats folded and if that’s not enough you can get another 190 litres with the estate car version. Superb.
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Skoda Superb SE L Executive hatch
Does it fit your ego…
0-62 mph: 8.6 secs
Top speed: 135 mph
PS: 150 @ 3500 rpm
Torque: 340 Nm @ 1750 rpm
…and your wallet…
Combined: 61.4 mpg
CO2 emissions: 118 g/km