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Superb is big and clever. Image by Alisdair Suttie.

Superb is big and clever
Skoda's new Superb has found even more interior space and has a clever new tailgate.

   



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| First Drive | Salzburg, Austria | Skoda Superb |

If there's one thing the previous Skoda Superb didn't really need it was more rear leg room. However, that hasn't stopped the Czechs coming up with a new second generation Superb that provides more legroom than even Inspector Gadget could fill. Along the way, Skoda has made the new Superb more handsome and bold to look at as well as upping cabin quality to Audi-esque levels. Then there's the new 'Twindoor' rear tailgate that works as either a boot or a tailgate.

In the Metal

The new Superb is a handsome car that won't look out of place picking up and dropping off busy execs at the airport, which is undoubtedly where many examples of this new Skoda will end up. Lucky execs is what we say - they can even avail of a fitted umbrella built into the rear doors so they don't get soaked in wet weather.

More sales will come from family buyers who will find the Twindoor tailgate a boon. In normal circumstances, the boot opens like a saloon's, but press a second button and the whole rear hatch lifts up to reveal the full enormity of the luggage space. Tip the 60:40 split and fold rear seats and the Superb offers more luggage capacity than an Audi A6 Avant.

What you get for your Money

Skoda has yet to establish prices for the new Superb in the UK, but expect it to cost between 16,000 and 24,000 depending on which model you choose. There are three petrol and three turbodiesel engines to pick from. We'd avoid the range-topping 3.6 V6 with its permanent four-wheel drive as the ride is too brittle and for the same money you could be driving something with more sporting credentials.

However, back in the real world of Superb buyers, the 2.0-litre turbodiesel model is an absolute star. There are two versions of this engine, with 138- and 167bhp, and the more powerful engine provides economy that is only fractionally behind the entry-level version's 47.8mpg (combined cycle). However, the less powerful engine will be cheaper to buy and still provides ample performance and refinement.

Mondeo drivers will whimper when they see the massive amount of space given over to passengers and driver alike in the Superb. It is enormous inside and incredibly well made, with materials and construction that easily bear comparison with those of more expensive rivals.

Driving it

Let's concentrate on the fine-riding turbodiesels that will make up the huge bulk of sales. Quiet and refined at all speeds, this version is a very real threat to the class leaders. With suspension componentry borrowed from the Octavia and Passat, the Superb handles with a nimbleness that belies its size, though it's not quite as deft as a Ford Mondeo through the lanes. Much more like the Mondeo is the way the Skoda suppresses all manner of lumpy roads to ride with admirable finesse.

The steering has well considered assistance to be light around town yet feel stable on the motorway and quick enough on twistier roads. This set-up helps overcome any worries about the size of the Superb, which acquits itself well in narrow city streets. The only drawback for family buyers might be the lengthy rear doors, which could make entry and exit a squeeze in tightly packed car parks.

With 138bhp and 236lb.ft of torque, the 2.0-litre turbodiesel Superb has class average acceleration off the mark, but is commendably hushed at higher speeds. It's great for long trips, where the excellent driving position and decent all-round vision add to the Superb's sense of ease.

Worth Noting

Space and the vast amounts of it are the big story with the Skoda Superb. The Czechs have managed to find almost 25% more boot space than in the previous model. With the rear seats in place, the new Superb can easily swallow holiday luggage or several sets of golf clubs. Getting luggage in also a cinch thanks to the Twindoor. It's a clever piece of design and works very well, though shorter users may find it a tiptoe stretch to pull the hatch shut.

Fold the rear seats and cargo space expands from the standard - and generous - 565-litres to a whopping 1,670-litres. That's more acreage than in an Audi A6 Avant estate and the Skoda isn't even a wagon. The other use of space is for rear seat passengers. It's hard to imagine anyone could ever feel short of leg room in the new Superb and shoulder and head room are both generous too.

Summary

The Skoda Superb may not fire up buyers' passions in the way some of its rivals do. However, this is a family car that we strongly suspect will soon gain a very loyal band of owners. The quality that shines through in the Superb's cabin is clear to see and touch, while the driving experience is on a par with all but the very best. That said, the Skoda is easily a match for any other family car when it comes to refinement and comfort. Of course, the huge amounts of space will remain a major selling point for the Superb, but now it's so much more than a saloon with a single USP.

Alisdair Suttie - 23 May 2008



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2008 Skoda Superb specifications: (Entry-level 2.0 TDI)
Price: To be confirmed
0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
Top speed: 129mph
Combined economy: 47.8mpg
Emissions: 155g/km
Kerb weight: 1490kg

2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.



2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 Skoda Superb. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 






 

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