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Skoda Superb review: Czech this out!

By Roger St Pierre with Hazel Kempster

When Skoda’s new Superb flagship took to the roads some years back there was a little sniggering among more cynical car industry observers.

That name tag did seem a little presumptuous at the time. After all, the rebuilding of the Czech company’s previously rather tattered quality standards and brand image were still works in progress. Moreover the Superb appeared to be to be  little more than a a stretched and tarted-up edition of the highly successful but less luxurious Octavia.

That was then and now is now. Currently, “All-new” must be far and away the most over-used sales’ tag in the entire motor industry lexicon – and it usually does not mean exactly what it implies but, rather, involves little more than minor tweaking and some specification upgrades to carry the vehicle concerned forward into its new model year for a modest investment.

In the case of Skoda’s decidedly upmarket range-topper, however, not only has the exterior styling been dramatically sharpened up – giving a crisp, more purposeful look – but the impressive raft of changes runs from end to end, top to bottom and considerably more than skin deep, stretching from the headlamp and bonnet amends, through the plush and welcoming cabin to the capacious boot.

What you don’t see is better too, with all the high-tech drive train, suspension, steering and safety gizmos you’d expect from a luxury limo contender. Now the Superb model name truly does tells it like it is, for there really is something special about this-top level sporty limousine at quality family car prices.

We drove the impressive SE L Executive Hatch, which will make the move from the local dealership to your driveway for a good value £28,720. That basic tag was upped to £31,625 by the basket full of optional extras added to the test car, including such goodies as dynamic chassis control, front and rear heated seats, metallic paint and park assist.

Standard kit – and there’s a very generous amount of it – includes seven air-bags, adaptive cruise control, three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, automatic braking function, electrically operated boot, an advanced sat-nav system with an eight-inch touch screen, dual-zone climate control and such neat little touches as an ice-scraper, located inside the fuel filler cap, two fitted umbrellas and a removable Led lamp, located in the boot, as well as doors that open extra wide for easy access to the decidedly plush interior. 

The revamped Superb not only looks good but drives well too. Powering the TDi diesel version through a DSG six-speed transmission is a smooth running engine that can whisk the car to 62-mph in a nifty 7.7-seconds and has a 146-mph top-speed potential yet can achieve 61.4-mpg in the combined cycle.

Fast, economical, roomy and luxurious, in this latest iteration, the Superb is fully deserving of its subtly amended name tag. Currently celebrating 120 years as a motor manufacturer, Skoda recently marked the occasion by producing its 18 millionth car – a Superb Combi in candy white – and is undertaking the largest ever modernisation programme at its plant in Kvasiny, Czech Republic, a multi-billion investment.

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