What is it?
Right since the first-gen model went on sale in India in 2004, the Skoda Superb has always punched above its weight. Solidly put together, incredibly roomy, nice to drive and even good value for what it offers, the Superb has always been a brilliantly-rounded model that’ll have you question the need to spend so much more for a like-sized German luxury sedan.
For 2020, the Skoda Superb gets a nip and tuck, a few feature revisions and makes the dramatic move to petrol-only power. The very likeable 2.0-litre diesel engine has been dropped while the 1.8 TSI turbo-petrol has made way for a newer and more powerful 2.0 TSI turbo-petrol unit. There are two distinct flavours of the Superb on offer – the driver-centric Sportline and the luxury-oriented Laurin & Klement (L&K) – though the distinction is merely down to exterior and interior packages.
What's it like on the outside?
You’ll have to keep a photo of the pre-facelift Superb handy to be able to pick out what’s new on this 2020 model year car; the styling tweaks are really that subtle. Your biggest giveaways of this being the latest iteration of the Superb are the slimmer headlights that now fuse into the marginally larger grille. The redone front bumper helps give the Superb a fuller face while the restyled air dam now comes flanked by aero-enhancing Air Curtains on L&K trim cars such as the one pictured here.
Changes to the exterior are on the subtle side.
At the rear, ‘SKODA’ lettering replaces the badge on the boot lid, in line with the carmaker’s latest styling treatment. The full-LED tail-lights have been re-profiled too and are now bisected by a chrome strip that runs the width of the tail. Chrome has also been used to good effect to embellish the rear bumper. Attractive new 17-inch alloy wheels complete the makeover.
Sportline trim gets blacked-out detailing instead of the chrome elements seen on the L&K we've tested.
Sportline trim cars tone down on the bling with sportier blacked-out detailing on the grille, windows and tail, and can also be identified with a discrete lip spoiler on the boot lid. Sportline or L&K, the Superb stands out for its well-proportioned design and clean-cut styling.
What’s it like on the inside?
Little has changed on the inside but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As before, the Superb’s cabin feels plush, with a generous use of soft-touch materials, fine detailing (the door pockets are felt lined!) and a built-to-last feel to everything. It’s thoughtfully laid out, too, with all important controls in easy reach. If anything, it’s that the dashboard looks generic.
Solid build quality and great ergonomics a typically Superb trait.
Do note, while the L&K features a more conventional black-on-beige look for the interior, the Superb Sportline adopts a sportier all-black theme. The Sportline’s Alcantara upholstery, racier front seats with integrated headrests, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and digital dials promise a sportier driver environment too.
Front seats offer good support and are 12-way power adjustable.
Those seated up front don’t have it bad in the L&K either. The seats are large and supportive, and 12-way electric adjust makes it really easy to find a comfy seating position. However, this being a Superb, it’s the rear seats that will be of more interest to the majority of buyers. As ever, the news is good. Legroom is fantastic to start with and, on the L&K, can be enhanced further for the all-important rear left passenger with the ‘Boss Button’ that has the front passenger seat slide forward. Also exclusive to the Superb L&K are new, Kodiaq-like rear head restraints that feature fold-down extensions to limit side-to-side head movement. You can spend long hours on the Superb’s back seat, though some might find the backrest a touch too upright. Also, should you need to travel five-up, the rear-middle passenger will feel like an unwelcome guest. The high centre tunnel and hard backrest are to blame.
While space at the rear, especially legroom, is excellent, the middle passenger won't be as comfortable.
The Superb’s cabin is full of stowage spaces, while the 625-litre boot offers cargo van-rivalling luggage room. With the rear seats folded, there’s 1,760 litres of luggage space.
What features does it get?
Both versions of the 2020 Superb get eight airbags, ESC, LED headlamps, keyless entry and go, powered front seats, three-zone climate control, configurable ambient lighting, a single-pane sunroof (it’s not panoramic as advertised) and a powered tailgate, among other features. An 8.0-inch touchscreen is also standard fit and impresses for its crisp graphics and slick touch responses. There’s no connected tech on offer, though.
Kodiaq-like rear headrest extensions are new on the Superb L&K.
The Sportline distinguishes itself for its sportier front seats and is also the only one with digital dials. Curiously, given that the Sportline is intended for owner drivers, it misses on heated/ventilated front seats and drive modes that are offered on the L&K. The L&K also packs in a tyre pressure monitoring system, fatigue alert system, and a hands-free tailgate. An 11-speaker sound system (vs eight speakers on the Sportline) and the aforementioned Boss Button and drop-down head supports are also exclusive to the L&K.
While the L&K gets analogue dials and a MID, the Sportline trim gets Skoda's 'Virtual Cockpit'.
What’s it like to drive?
The 2020 Superb comes powered by the VW Group’s latest 2.0-litre direct-injection, turbo-petrol engine (shared with the VW Tiguan Allspace) and is solely on offer with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The engine makes 190hp at 4,200-6,000rpm and 320Nm of torque at 1,450-4,200rpm. That’s 10hp and a meaty 70Nm up over the earlier Superb’s 1.8 TSI-DSG combo.
The new 2.0-litre TSI engine is more accomplished than the previous 1.8-litre unit.
As fans of the older 1.8 TSI engine, we’re happy to report that the new 2.0 TSI is an even more accomplished unit. At typical city speeds, the engine is remarkably smooth and refined, while its responsiveness makes the large Superb feel surprisingly light on its feet. Drive with a bit more enthusiasm and the engine is quick to change character. There’s a noticeable tug in the mid-range, followed by a sustained charge to 6,000rpm, all of which is accompanied by an entertaining snarl from the engine. The engine feels alert, ready and willing at all times and the quick-shifting gearbox plays its supporting role well. Sure, the DSG gearbox isn’t absolutely fluid in shifts (more so at low speeds), like a torque converter auto would be, but it’s far from a weakness. Keen drivers will love to take manual control via the paddles and gear lever.
A feature of interest on the updated Superb is launch control, which does its job remarkably well. Put to the test on a wet road, the Superb 2.0 TSI posted a launch control-aided 0-100kph time of 8.43sec. In standard test conditions, it’ll be easy to match Skoda’s claimed 0-100kph time of 7.7sec. Remarkably, the 2.0 TSI’s wet-weather acceleration time bettered the old 1.8 TSI’s time by a tenth! There isn’t much difference between the Superb’s old and new kickdown timings, though we’ll wait for final test figures before we can pass final judgement.
Ride and handling are good, if not great.
Drive modes, exclusive to the L&K, help fine-tune the driving experience and what’s nice is that you have the option to mix and match steering, powertrain and air-con settings. Eco and Normal are fine for the most part but you get the most out of the car in Sport. The comfort-oriented suspension means the Superb is not quite the corner-carver, even at its sportiest setting, but there is a satisfactory weight to the steering, and it does change direction diligently. More pertinently, in tight confines, you’ll like how the Superb disguises its size, feeling much smaller than its outside dimensions might have you expect.
Skoda hasn’t tinkered with the suspension setup, which is just as well because the Superb makes light work of potholes and imperfections. Bump absorption is really good, though, there is some bit of movement at higher speeds.
Should you buy one?
The Superb looks the part, pampers rear-seat occupants with acres of room and a cushy ride, and, as an added plus, is good to drive too. Some might argue that the facelift isn’t as comprehensive as it could have been but given that the fundamental package is so strong, it really shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
The Skoda Superb Sportline comes in at Rs 29.99 lakh while the Superb L&K trim sports a Rs 32.99 lakh price tag. The Skoda’s not cheap by any means but then let’s not forget, its only direct rival, the Toyota Camry Hybrid, starts at Rs 39 lakh. See the Superb in light of like-sized German sedans and you’ll see the Skoda for what it is – a car that breaks the class ceiling.
All prices, ex-showroom, India
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