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Rating 9 9

Skoda Superb 1.8

6th Dec 2009 8:00 am

The luxury saloon that pulls out all stops.

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  • Make : Skoda
  • Model : Superb

The new Superb sports a more radical design as compared to the earlier model –which was conservative with simple lines and traditional proportions. Its new dimensions are unconventional with a lot of edgy details, making it a design that’s difficult to immediately relate to.

The attractive-looking wraparound headlamps grabs your attention first. They have a sharp edge and upward sweep to them and there are cuts and details on the nose section that look very attractive. The skinning of the body is tight, and the chrome detailing practically everywhere gives the car an upmarket look. However, the Superb’s silhouette is where it all goes a bit wonky. The stubby nose, upright cabin and large rear overhang don’t gel perfectly, and the proportions tend to look odd at certain angles.

The short nose is down to the transverse engine, the cabin looks bulky as the rear windscreen is pushed well back for increased headroom and the large rear overhang helps stretch the platform to its limit. The new Superb’s wheelbase is shorter than the earlier model – being built on an extended VW Passat floorpan stretched to 2761mm (shorter than the Accord’s wheelbase and overall length). 

The new Superb also shares its lineage and platform with both the current VW Passat as well as the Laura, but has its own unique bits and pieces.

The new car has all four corners independently sprung. The Superb latest tech is its electrical steering system –which is developed to deliver much more feel and feedback. The chassis, which is considerably stiffer than the outgoing Superb, also helps the new car’s dynamics.

The sense of a well crafted, thoughtfully put-together car is carried over to the interior as well. First impressions inside the cabin are staggering. The combination of rich tones, quality textures and perfectly finished real chrome are simply stunning, worthy of a luxury car twice the price. It’s so good, you immediately think this is just too good to be true and start looking for blemishes and low quality bits — of which you find almost none. Okay, the doorpads could have been built better with softer materials and the design of the central console is quite old fashioned, but apart from these niggles, the insides are . . . well, just superb. The quality and shape of the steering wheel is exceptional, it’s really comfortable to hold and the chrome ‘smile’ and Skoda badge make it look special. The hooded circular dials look terrific, the air con is easy and intuitive to use, and the puddle lights inside the cabin add to the luxurious feel. Even the quality of the ‘wood’ and manner in which small knobs have chrome piping is impressive.

Other salient features of the new Superb include a central touch screen that controls everything from the radio and in-dash CD-changer to the phone and navigation system.

The front seats are ample, very supportive and electrically adjustable in every direction. With acres of legroom and full sized seats, you are unlikely to find more comfortable seating anywhere in this class. With seat memory and electric lumbar support, finding your ideal driving position is easy. But, if you really want to be comfortable, there’s no place like the rear. There’s enough legroom here for a pro basketball player and unless you’re Shaquille O’Neal, you don’t have to tuck your feet under the front seats. The headroom isn’t equally generous, thanks to the high-mounted seat which gives you a good view forward. Generous shoulder and under-thigh support and a backrest reclined at just the correct angle add up to give a true limousine-like experience. We only wish the seat cushions were a bit softer.

Having raised the suspension by 20mm, and with almost 160mm of ground clearance, Skoda has stiffened the Superb’s springs and dampers for good straight-line stability. The Superb tracks dead straight even at speeds as high as 180kph with little sensation of speed or shuffling or rocking. The car responds in a measured manner to every tweak on the wheel even at high speeds. This allows you to confidently carry masses of speed into corners, even on upcountry single-lane highways.

Grip from the tyres is very strong and the new electric steering transfers masses of feel to your hands. Very direct and with no slack, this is one of the best electric power steering units we’ve used. Long high-speed corners are dealt with incredible confidence and the Superb just shrinks around you, tackling corners efficiently, with body roll well in control. The Superb doesn’t turn that eagerly on tighter corners and a bit of extra steering lock needed is in need. But once used to this, Skoda allows you liberties not expected of a car of this size. However, what takes a bit of getting used to at times are the brakes. While stopping power and bite are great, there seems to be a bit of initial tardiness to the pedal. Still, it’s a fabulous drive overall, not something you expect of a car of this size.

The flipside of the stiff suspension setup is that this car is less compliant and reveals more of the road surface to the cabin. It’s a touch noisy, and when rough surfaces filter through to the cabin you feel almost every expansion joint along the way. But you are never tossed around with its flat ride quality. The tall absorbent springs don’t allow the suspension to crash badly through potholes, and as speeds build up, the ride improves greatly.

Skoda Superb 1.8
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