This is the facelifted Skoda Superb sedan that will be showcased at the 2014 New Delhi Auto Expo next month. Skoda's flagship saloon has received a refresh comprising mainly of revised front and rear styling and a bit more equipment, and we’ve just driven it from Mumbai to the neighbouring hill station of Lonavala, to assess the improvements.
First, a look at what’s new on the outside. The Skoda Superb facelift’s front end has been adequately redesigned for you to tell it apart from its predecessor. The most noticeable changes are an all-new ‘butterfly’ grille with the new, two-tone Skoda logo, reshaped head- and fog lamps, and a re-profiled bumper and bonnet. Keeping with the contemporary trend, Skoda has introduced bi-xenon headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights on the facelifted Superb which, on the top Elegance trim, get power washers. Further, the turn indicator is now a C-shaped strip of seven LED segments and looks quite sharp.
Move to the rear and the tweaks are a little more significant. You’ll immediately notice the new part-LED tail-lamps that seem to have borrowed cues from the Audi school of design. The rear bumper, spoiler and boot lid have all been tweaked to look more angular and the number plate has now been moved to the boot lid from the bumper. The boot lid also has the revised Skoda badge, and the ‘Superb’ badge, which uses the new company typeface, has now moved from the centre to the bottom right of the lid. While this new rear end is neat and modern looking, it’s no longer as unique and immediately identifiable as before. Another obvious change is the new set of ‘Helix’ alloys. The 10-spoke design looks a bit like the blades of a turbine and adds dynamism to the car’s profile.
Step inside, and the changes are limited. The tweaks are pretty much limited to a revised, three-spoke design steering wheel. What’s good though is that now, even in the base Ambition trim, you get the better ‘Bolero’ audio player with a CD changer and Bluetooth telephony.
Mechanically, nothing has changed under the skin. It will continue to be offered with either the 158bhp, 1.8-litre TSI petrol engine or the 140bhp, 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine, but the four-wheel-drive, 3.6-litre V6 petrol version has been discontinued. The TSI motor comes with the option of a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG automatic, while the TDI is available with a six-speed DSG only.
As you might expect on a car that has had no mechanical changes made to it, the Skoda Superb facelift drives exactly as the car it replaces. It retains that excellent combination of good body control in corners and unflappable poise at high speed, and the steering offers great feedback too. What’s more, we did feel that the ride was actually a tad plusher than before, which is a welcome improvement.
Overall, the facelifted Skoda Superb holds all the merits of the car it replaces and wraps them in a neater, more modern looking package. The restyling touches work well together and help mask the age of a design that was starting to show its age. Buyers will also appreciate that extra bit of kit that has been added to the base Ambition trim. The Skoda Superb has always been a spacious car, especially for the chauffeur driven and you’d still be hard pressed to come across a package that offers a similar blend of luxury, space, comfort and performance at this price point. Prices for the facelifted car are likely to be a bit higher than the outgoing car and will be officially announced in February.
As Skoda introduces this facelifted Superb to the Indian market, work on an all-new next generation Superb has already begun at Skoda’s global HQ. The next-gen car will be based on the VW Group’s MQB platform and will share as much as 50 percent of its parts with the upcoming next-gen Volkswagen Passat, which is also under development. While the new Superb won’t be introduced before 2015, this facelift does a good job of injecting some pizzazz into what is already a very capable luxury saloon in the meantime.