Back in the early 2000s, the large sedan was seen as the attainable status symbol for many. Models like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Mazda 6 and Nissan Cefiro/Teana were simply so desirable, especially if you were looking for something more luxurious than the average bread-and-butter compact.
With buyers gravitating to SUVs, sales of the once popular large sedan segment has taken a hit. But that does not mean that the large sedan has fallen out of favour. There are many who are not sold by “added ride height is good”, in-fact it makes a car more rolly-rolly. For those who are nodding their heads now, I raise my glass of bubbly soft drink to you as I write this.
The Superb is Skoda’s flagship sedan, which sits in the same playpen as its sister car, the Volkswagen Passat.
While the Passat is positioned to (almost) take on cars one segment above, the Superb on the other hand has always targeted its intended segment head-on, while delivering value where it counts the most.
We took the range-topping Laurin & Klement model out a while ago, and marvelled at how well it rides, thanks to its adaptive suspension, Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) in Volkswagen/Skoda talk. In-fact, the comfort it offered easily rivalled what is found in Executive segment cars.
Space is another plus point. Just like the smaller Octavia sedan, the Superb sits on a wheelbase of 2,841mm, outclassing even the Toyota Camry’s.
Skoda also offers the Superb as a 1.8 litre, with less kit, and without its magical DCC.
Other than some trim differences, the lower-spec Superb also gets smaller 215/55 R17 wheels, compared to the two-litre’s 19” rims. Which is not a bad thing at all. Added sidewall means more play between the rims and the road surface which translates to added comfort. Tyre replacement cost too is cheaper.
Like the rest of the cars in the Skoda stable, product planners have kept materials simple. There are no make-believe wooden surfaces; while a simple dash layout, sensibly coupled with plenty of switchgear from a common Volkswagen Group parts bin, ensures that production costs are kept low, while quality on the other hand is very good.
No-nonsense dials, with large fonts, makes reading the essentials easy for drivers of all ages. The 8” infotainment screen does just about the same job as the upper-spec car’s 9.2” unit, in displaying what the next track in your playlist is, and what is behind the car when you are backing up. While the 1.8 litre model also does not have the benefit a top-down 360 view when you are parking the Superb, visibility is good, and you still get a rear camera, and sensors around the car to warn you of obstacles.
Front and rear seats are supportive and comfortable enough for you to clock up the miles in them with minimal fatigue. Rear passengers also benefit from heaps of legroom, thanks to the Skoda’s superbly-long wheelbase.
The Superb’s cargo space at 625 litres is also estate car-rivalling, and its electric liftback-style tailgate, is a plus for loading and unloading. The addition of built-in hooks and boot organisers, the latter which neatly tuck out of the way, adds to the Superb’s already hard-to-beat versatility. Drop the rear seats, and you will get up to 1,760 litres! The Camry, with its already generous 493 litres in contrast, pales in comparison.
It is true that the 1.8 litre engine delivers less grunt than the 2.0 found in the L&K model. However with 180bhp and 250Nm from between 1,250 to 5,000rpm; mated to a 7-speed DSG transmission, the “lesser” Superb still clocks quite a decent 8.1 seconds to 100km/h. That being said, most buyers will be driving this sedan in an unhurried manner. The availability of maximum torque from low rpms, also means that there is never a need to work the engine hard, even if you are taking the car up some challenging inclines.
There is also enough shove from the engine to drive the car comfortably even in Eco mode, which impatient me actually enjoyed. As with many Volkswagen group cars, the Superb also allows you to coast in this drive mode; meaning that drive from the transmission disconnects, and you would essentially be barreling down the road without gears engaged, while the engine idles, helping you to save on fuel cost. The transmission re-engages when you deploy the brakes or ease on the throttle. Combined fuel figures posted by the Czech manufacturer claims 16.4km/l, but I was easily doing something closer to 18km/l!
The combination of its long wheelbase, tyres with more sidewall and a suspension set for comfort, means that the Skoda sedan delivers one of the best rides in its class. Great, if you are not one of those who would not need razor-sharp handling, but rather a car that soothes you as you go along.
If you are not into buying something for the badge. The Superb not only makes perfect sense, with the value it offers.
Where it also matters, is that you are buying quite a bit of car, for its price. While it may not out-handle the new Honda Accord, it is quicker to 100kmh, and more importantly, about a cool $30k less.
I did mention earlier on, value where it counts the most. And this is not in the bits of tech you would hardly play with, like a digitised instrument panel, which you will leave alone after a week of messing with… Those things are still rather costly to add into the build of a car. Instead, Skoda opted to offer more in-terms of passenger legroom, boot space, organisers for things you haul… Practical stuff, which you will see yourself reaping benefits of on a daily basis.
In this case, a little less car, can also be a lot more!
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