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Driven: Skoda Superb Sportline. Image by Skoda.

Driven: Skoda Superb Sportline
Here be a dragon as Skoda unleashes the racy-looking Superb 280 TSI Sportline.

 



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Skoda Superb Sportline

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: Sportline trim and that Dragon Green paint work brilliantly on Superb body; 15mm suspension drop, electronic diff lock and wider tyres make the Skoda better and more fun to drive

Not so good: It loses its 'sleeper' status as a Sportline, those tyres make too much noise...

Key Facts

Model tested: Skoda Superb Sportline 2.0 TSI 280 4x4 DSG
Price: Superb hatch range starts from 20,080; Sportline from 27,495, 280 TSI from 34,335, car as tested 37,135
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: all-wheel drive, six-speed DSG twin-clutch auto
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 160g/km (500 VED first 12 months, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 39.8mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.8 seconds
Power: 280hp at 5,600- to 6,500rpm
Torque: 350Nm at 1,700- to 5,600rpm

Our view:

Audi drivers hate this car. Absolutely hate it. It's like a red (yellow?) rag to a bull (bellen... no, wait, sorry - we didn't mean that...) to people with big egos driving small-engined Beemers and Mercs too, obviously, but it seemed to particularly irk pilots of Audis. Including one bloke in an old 1.9 TDI A3 who was so close up behind the Skoda Superb Sportline 280 TSI as we disgorged from the M1 onto the A43 that we couldn't even see his windscreen wipers in our rear-view mirror.

Still, there's an easy way to deal with Mr Tailgating-Tit. Simply depress the Superb's right pedal and, wallop! Off the big Superb roars into the middle distance, leaving angry sad cases in diesel Audi hatchbacks languishing miles behind, stewing in their own furious juices. Childish of us, we know, but we never, ever got tired of treating aggressive morons seemingly stuck to the Skoda's rear bumper to the same disdainful treatment, time and time again...

We tell this tale because it highlights our dichotomy about the Superb Sportline, especially when fitted with that monster 2.0-litre petrol engine that delivers 280hp and 350Nm. You see, everything that we absolutely adore about the Superb in normal guise holds true with the Sportline: it's still a massive car for not a massive amount of cash (although 37,000 is starting to get to the point where you can no longer credibly call the Skoda a bargain), it still looks the bomb (the Sportline accoutrements outside only help it, as does the glorious Dragon Green paint) and it's still a wonderfully refined, amiable all-rounder with a magnificent cabin and loads of top-end toys.

There are further plus points, as well. The Sportline enjoys a 15mm suspension drop, wider sports tyres and the electronic diff lock to boost its driving credentials. Where the standard Superb is commendably capable up to a point in the corners, the Sportline layers on top a useful veneer of driver interactivity and engagement that makes the trim grade more than merely a styling exercise. This is comfortably the most rewarding Superb to drive, so much so that it would almost be fairer to simply call it a vRS and be done with. And have we mentioned the marvellous Dragon Green paint? We have? Oh. Well... it IS marvellous.

However, the fat rubber at each corner promotes more tyre roar in the Superb. While it is by no means unrefined, at a 70mph cruise the Sportline hatch is noticeably louder than its unadorned siblings, while the ride is just a little less graceful over lumpier road surfaces. Nevertheless, we wouldn't call these deal-breakers - especially since we were enjoying the Superb's performance charms so much that we did more than 825 miles in it in a week; it even gave back 32.9mpg overall, which is remarkable considering how many times we had to teach other drivers 'The Lesson of 280hp and Four-Wheel Drive'.

But the main problem with the Superb Sportline, especially in splendiferous Dragon Green metallic (stop this at once! - Ed), is that it loses the 'sleeper' status that a Superb 280 normally possesses. As evidenced by some utter clots in German tin trying desperately to park their cars in the Skoda's boot while it was on the move, as if we were attempting to recreate the famous scenes in Knight Rider where Michael and KITT would motor smoothly into the back of Devon's truck. No one is in any doubt, looking at this lurid, be-spoilered Superb on big wheels, that it's an upstart capable of handing out spankings to other cars from time to time. It therefore seems to make you an enemy of anyone who's driving a Teutonic machine with less than 220hp - or, at least, that was our experience for the week.

So, slightly noisier at a cruise, slightly less comfortable on corrugated roads, notably sharper to drive in the corners and looking the best it ever has done (DRAGON GREEN! YES!!!), there's a heck of a lot to like about the Skoda Superb Sportline. Just be aware that you're going to be looking at a mass of Audi grilles in your rear-view mirror if you decide to buy one. Us? We reckon we'd stick with the stealthier Laurin & Klement model, for the maximum embarrassment factor being heaped upon inconsiderate fellow road users when you finally do unleash that brutal turbocharged petrol engine...

Alternatives:

Audi S4 Avant: About as close as you'll get to the Sportline 280 TSI within 'Group', and while the Audi is undoubtedly lovely, what with its V6, it's pricey and the Superb is the more likeable machine.

BMW 340i GT: Lots of space like the Superb and lots of pace as well, but BMW doesn't offer the 340i Gran Turismo with xDrive here in the UK - and you'll be paying at least 43 grand for it, too.

Jaguar XE S: Uprated to 380hp in 2017, the XE S has a sublime sports saloon chassis which does make the Skoda look a bit lumpen... but then, the XE S is cramped and it costs a heck of a lot more.


Matt Robinson - 4 Jan 2018









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2018 Skoda Superb Sportline. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Superb Sportline. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Superb Sportline. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Superb Sportline. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Superb Sportline. Image by Skoda.

2018 Skoda Superb Sportline. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Superb Sportline. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Superb Sportline. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Superb Sportline. Image by Skoda.2018 Skoda Superb Sportline. Image by Skoda.








 

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