The ŠKODA Superb vs. Brand Snobbery
It’s only brand-snobbery that prevents this car from dominating New Zealand’s large car sales figures says DAVE MOORE.
The truth is, if you care more about what a car can do for you than what kind of badge it has, Skoda builds the best large sedans and wagons under $100,000 – and they start at well-under half that.
What makes it so good? It has more legroom and luggage space than anything else, while offering a selection of the best VW-Audi Group powertrains, which includes diesel and petrol turbo fours, six and seven-speed DSG automatic transmissions, and even two and four wheel drive – depending on how intrepid you are and what job you have to do.
It’s also so well put together and so reliable, that it’s one of three Skodas in the list of top five most dependable cars in Europe, according to JD Power. If that’s not enough, it has gained crisp, chiselled new lines which makes it a much better looker than previous Superbs (this is the third generation), though its frontal ‘beak’ can look a little overwrought from some angles.
Add-in the car and wagon’s comfort, handling, and refinement, not to mention the very latest gewgaws, involving communications, chassis tech, home comforts, navigation and active and passive safety and you realise that it leaves no boxes unticked.
Oh, and did I mention that it also has a thoroughly well-sorted chassis and is a treat to drive? Which makes it all the more puzzling that the Superb wagon and sedan – as well as some other Skodas – don’t loom large on the Government’s order books, particularly for Parliamentary, Police and associated services who will soon have to be doing without Falcons and Commodores.
Ordinary civilians have already started to realise that Skodas, and the Superb in particular is as good as other European offerings asking two and three times as much. I think it’s a pity that these cars won’t be replacing the highway patrol’s Ocker sixes. They have engines that use from as little as 40 percent of the gas to do the same job, and offer more room in their rear seats for the biggest of perps, while the boot, particularly on the wagon can swallow swags of gear and if necessary, ill-gotten gains.
And don’t think that just because the engines range from ‘only’ 1.8-litres and top-out at just 2.0-litres, that they don’t have the punch of the 3.6 and 4.0-litre sixes used by patrol cars. The entry-point 132kW TSi manages a zero to 100kmh sprint in just over eight seconds and it feels like it, while the 206kW TSi does it in less than six seconds, as you’d expect with what is effectively a Golf GTi engine doing the work.
Even the two diesel options – offering 110kW or 140kW do a good job, with 8.9 and 7.6 seconds being quoted by Skoda for that zero to 100 dash. Inevitably the more powerful petrol car is the thirstiest, at 7.1L/100km, while the lowest user of fuel is the 110kW diesel at an exceptionally frugal 4.4L/100km (about 60mpg in old money!).
The two most powerful Superbs come with all-wheel-drive as a sedan or wagon, but the load-carrier is well-worth the extra $3000 and is better-looking to boot.
All models ride and handle well, with the all-wheel-drive cars adding extra traction and better steering precision, particularly when the surfaces get wet or broken-up. The 4x4s can tow a bit more than the front-drive cars: 2,200kg rather than 2,000kg.
The dynamic chassis control – standard on the TSi 206 and optional on others – gives you a driving mode select feature and a choice between cosy, normal and firmed-up sports like ride and handling. The driving mode select can be optioned without the dynamic control.
Big, supportive, wraparound power seats feature up front with heating standard across the range, while the top 140KW get heated rear seating too, they’re optional in the ‘lesser’ models.
But that’s just it, there really isn’t a lesser model in the range, even without taking options from the models expansive manifest which offers-up everything from leather and self-parking to rough road suspension set-ups and radar cruise control.
Last year, I voted for the new Superb as the best new large car available in New Zealand. Now there’s one better. The Superb wagon.
Skoda Superb sedans –
- TSi 2WD 132kW $45,900,
- TDi 2WD 110kW $48,900,
- TDi 4×4 140kW $55,900,
- TSi 4×4 206kW $60,900.
Wagons add $3000 in each case.