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First drive: Skoda Superb iV. Image by Skoda.

First drive: Skoda Superb iV
Skoda goes electric for the first time with the plug-in hybrid Superb. Enough to tempt you out of diesel?

 



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Skoda Superb iV

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Skoda's Superb iV mixes petrol and electric power to good effect, and maintains (almost) all of the strong points of its conventional sister models.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Skoda Superb iV Style (saloon)
Pricing: From 31,970
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder + 85kW electric motor
Transmission: six-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door liftback (saloon)
CO2 emissions: 35g/km (Band 1-50 alternative fuel cars - 0 year one, then 135 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 148mpg
Top speed: 138mph
0-62mph: 7.7 seconds
Power: 218hp at 5,000-6,000rpm
Torque: 400Nm (system total)
Boot space: 485-1,610 litres

What's this?

This is Skoda's first electric car. Well, almost - it's actually a plug-in hybrid, of course, and there's an all-electric version of the Citigo going on sale shortly too, but this is the first mainstream Skoda with a battery for anything other than turning over the engine.

It uses, basically, the same 1.4-litre TSI turbo petrol engine and electric motor set-up as the mechanically related Volkswagen Passat GTE. So you have a 156hp petrol engine, tied into an 85kW (115hp) electric motor for a system total of 218hp, plus a maximum torque figure of 400Nm. All of which is enough to make the Superb feel decently brisk - 7.7 seconds to 62mph is not bad for a car weighing 1,730kg at the kerb.

It's also, potentially, hugely frugal too. Charge up the 13kWh battery, mounted under the back seats (charging takes between three and five hours, depending on how powerful a socket you've hooked it up to) and Skoda claims you can go for 38 miles, burning only electrons (I know electrons don't burn, but still. . .). That's enough to give the Superb iV a combined economy figure of 148mpg, and hugely tax-friendly CO2 emissions of just 35g/km.

Is there a possible downside to all of this? Well, yes - the boot has shrunk. I know, I know; the Superb's gargantuan boot is often one of the major reasons for buying one in the first place, and thanks to the need to package the battery with a 50-litre fuel tank, luggage space has shrunk from 610- to 485 litres. That's not too shabby, even so, and the boot seems just a little more shallow than normal, subjectively.

The rest of the interior is untouched, which is a good thing. These iV Superbs get a little extra equipment across the board - standard six-speed DSG automatic transmission, and the larger touchscreen infotainment system, among some other toys - but the basics in the cabin are as right as they are in any other Superb. So there's Club Class legroom in the rear, tremendous seat comfort up front, and the sort of quality that would make you seriously question the wisdom of spending any more cash on an Audi.

On the outside, aside from the discreet little iV badge on the boot, there's nothing to distinguish the plugin Superb from a conventional diesel or petrol version. The flap for the charging point is neatly tucked into the radiator grille, and other than that only iV-specific alloy wheel options will give the game away.

How does it drive?

It drives like a Superb. Well, that might seem rather obvious, but it just does. The same smooth, uncluttered (but also rather short of feedback) steering; the same soothing, but not too-squishy, ride quality (impressive, considering the extra heft of the hybrid system). There are few differences between this and any other Superb in terms of driving. Which is kind of the point, really - Skoda wants the iV to seem as conventional a choice as a 2.0 TDI or 1.5 TSI. Being environmentally aware should not come with a penalty of being different.

Where you will notice a difference is in refinement. Obviously, when you're swishing around on the battery, the Superb iV is going to be more refined than a petrol or diesel version as there's no engine noise. There is a distant, Star Trek-y 'wooooooorrrrrr' at low speeds, to warn pedestrians and cyclists that you're coming, but what you sense is that Skoda has worked hard to quell any excess tyre or wind noise (and it also seems to have eradicated the all-too-frequent cabin rattles that bedevilled early versions of this generation of Superb).

What about fuel consumption? Well, if you have a driveway at home, and can charge at work, there's a good chance that you could do your Monday to Friday commuting and never burn a single, solitary hydrocarbon. Skoda's claim of 38 miles on the battery might be a touch far, but we reckon 25-30 miles is probably doable on average, so the Superb iV will be for many buyers, for much of the time, a purely electric car. It'll reach 80mph in electric mode, and while it's obviously not as brisk as it is running as a hybrid, it's hardly disgraced, either.

When the petrol engine wakes up, that refinement generally continues - it's really only noisy when you ask for significant amounts of acceleration. The six-speed DSG 'box works mostly very smoothly, and actually includes an extra clutch to manage the work of the electric motor, making it - technically - a triple-clutch gearbox.

Driving in hybrid mode, over a roughly 75-mile test route, we recorded 3.4 litres per 100km fuel economy, which works out at around 75mpg overall. Pretty impressive, although it's worth noting that this test route was in the flat, hill-free hinterlands of Amsterdam, so as ever your mileage may vary. We reckon a diesel-matching 45-50mpg average when running in hybrid mode is probably a realistic level, so you'll need to keep the battery topped up regularly if you're to maximise the Superb iV's economy levels. You can top the battery up as you drive, though, and we managed to give it a 50 per cent charge, from flat, in less than 30 minutes of driving, so you should always be able to arrive at a city centre destination with plenty of zero-emissions running time available.

Drawbacks? Well, as ever the Superb doesn't like to be rushed through corners - it's a more languid sort of car than that, and the regenerative brakes make for a mushy, inconsistent pedal feel that takes a little getting used to.

Verdict

The Superb plug-in is a Superb, first and foremost, so you're getting the same cabin space, the same quality and the same relative affordability (it's usefully cheaper than a Passat GTE) as with any other big Skoda. The plug-in capability merely means that this iV one (aside from its smaller boot) has an extra string of flexibility and eco-friendliness to its bow. As long as you have a driveway for charging, it's a tough car not to recommend.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Neil Briscoe - 3 Dec 2019









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2020 Skoda Superb iV Style Amsterdam. Image by Skoda.2020 Skoda Superb iV Style Amsterdam. Image by Skoda.2020 Skoda Superb iV Style Amsterdam. Image by Skoda.2020 Skoda Superb iV Style Amsterdam. Image by Skoda.2020 Skoda Superb iV Style Amsterdam. Image by Skoda.

2020 Skoda Superb iV Style Amsterdam. Image by Skoda.2020 Skoda Superb iV Style Amsterdam. Image by Skoda.2020 Skoda Superb iV Style Amsterdam. Image by Skoda.2020 Skoda Superb iV Style Amsterdam. Image by Skoda.2020 Skoda Superb iV Style Amsterdam. Image by Skoda.








 

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