What is it?
Against all the odds, this is a car that manages to live up to its silly name. The Skoda Superb is a spacious and well-appointed saloon that can also be used as a hatchback — its clever tailgate operates either way — and is as comfortable as any Audi A4 or BMW 3-series while being significantly more affordable.
The engine range covers most requirements; our recommendation would be the 1.8T turbocharged petrol or 2.0 TDI diesel, both four-cylinder. They offer peppy performance, good fuel economy and low running costs.
Another reason for considering a Skoda is that owners say they’re well looked after by their local dealer. Independent consumer surveys place Skoda at the top of the table for a great ownership experience.
Comfortable progress is the name of the game with the Superb, rather than driving as if your trousers are on fire. The Superb is the ideal machine for covering long distances, as it’s refined, has a supple ride and feels stable.
The 2-litre TDI offers the potential for more than 50mpg, yet can spirit the big Superb from standstill to 62mph in 10.1 seconds — sufficient for most needs. The dreaded diesel rattle is well suppressed, and once on the move the engine’s plentiful torque hauls the car enthusiastically from as low as 1700rpm. At motorway speeds refinement is excellent, and the comfortable seats and supple suspension make light work of long trips.
Charging around corners is not exactly the Superb’s forte; a Ford Mondeo or BMW 3-series boasts better handling. However, the Superb has good feedback from its steering, and the handling is reasonably agile and well balanced.
This is where the Superb scores highly. It is one of the most practical cars of its kind and the only car in its class to offer a dual-purpose tailgate, called “Twindoor” by Skoda. This means it can be opened much like a saloon’s boot, but, should you need to load large, bulky items, a second handle opens it like a hatchback. And what a boot — a whopping 595 litres of luggage capacity, which is substantially more than even a Ford Mondeo estate can swallow.
The cabin is similarly roomy, especially in the back, where legroom is vast. Little wonder many Superbs are bought for use as taxis. The steering wheels adjusts for height and reach, and the seat can be set for height, so it’s easy for the driver to get comfortable. The seats and driving position are good, the dashboard is simple and easy to use and stowage space is abundant.
What to look out for when buying a used Skoda Superb
Most owners appear to be delighted with their purchases, though the Superb is a complex car and by no means trouble-free, suffering some of the problems that have afflicted other VW vehicles. Issues reported include electrical glitches, especially with features such as the parking sensors, sat nav, stereo and heated seats, failure of the keyless entry/ignition system and climate control, plus premature failure of the clutch and flywheel, and exhaust sensor issues. Some cars fitted with the DSG transmission have needed software upgrades to prevent cutting-out, and there have also been problems with the on-board computer. Owners have also complained of easily scratched paint.
Many Superbs will have been used for towing, so make sure that their suspension, transmission and brakes are not badly worn. The Superb has also been popular as a taxi; though private-hire drivers do, by and large, look after the source of their livelihoods by servicing their vehicles regularly, a former minicab may well come with a damaged or stained interior. Be cautious, too, of ex-police vehicles, which may have had extra electrical equipment fitted and could have been hard-driven.
There have been several recalls for the second-generation Superb, for a potential fire risk from the auxiliary heater (where fitted), for reprogramming of the DSG software to prevent sudden loss of drive and for a fuel leak from the common-rail diesel engines. Skoda owners consistently rate their cars well in customer satisfaction and reliability surveys.
The one to buy
Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI (140PS) S
- 1968cc, 4 cylinders
- 138bhp @ 4200rpm
- 236 lb ft @ 1750rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 10.1sec
- Top speed:
- 52.3mpg (combined)
- Road tax band:
- L 4838mm, W 1817mm, H 1462mm
Or buy used for similar money
- Jaguar XF (Check Jaguar XF used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- BMW 520d (Check BMW 520d used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Audi A6 (Check Audi A6 used car prices on driving.co.uk)