New Skoda Superb: First Drive Review
Watch Exclusive First Drive Review of Skoda Superb
Skoda recently launched the all-new Superb with a host of new features, more power and more importantly an all-new design. We drove the car around the beautiful roads of Coorg to see what this new budget-limo is all about!
The luxury segment has evolved tremendously in India. You have all the top marques here vying for a piece of the action across all segments. Every manufacture makes sure that they have at least one premium luxury model in their portfolio standing alongside the other lower rung models. In fact it’s these luxury cars that create a halo around the brand by showcasing the best technology and features that they can offer.
Skoda like that is a little different. Right from their inception, they have been around only towards the luxury end of things. Even the Fabia when launched had luxury features, which were unheard of in a hatchback, and that trend has stayed true till today. The Skoda Superb which is the car in question here, also made its mark by offering luxury and space offered in higher segments at a way lesser price tag. And now after multiple updates, we finally have the all-new Superb, which is all set to raise the benchmark even higher.
One of the biggest issues with the last-gen Superb was its design. While it looked elegant, the stretched look made the overall design a little awkward. The new car is anything like its predecessor. Chief Designer, Jozef Kaban has totally transformed the car from something that you would consider buying to something extremely desirable. While it’s got the family design traits from the smaller Octavia, there is no mistaking the proportions. The stretched look is gone and the car now boasts a very cohesive design. Lots of angular contours and dynamic lines give it a sharp look.
The front looks unmistakable Skoda thanks to that moustache grill and those intricately designed angular headlights look fabulous. The side profile give out the car’s huge 2841 mm wheelbase (in comparison a Mercedes-Benz E-Class is marginally longer at 2874 mm) thanks to the large glass area, but still looks extremely proportional.
The 17-inch wheels look fantastic in both Style and L&K trim. The rear too looks fantastic thanks to the interaction between the convex and concave forms, which creates a striking interplay of surface light. The new LED tail lights fit in perfectly too. The lower part of the bumper now gets a faux diffuser and completely hides the exhaust. Overall we love how the new car looks. It’s the right blend of sporty and elegant unlike the last car, which had a way more functional design. Well-done Jozef Kaban!
This was one of the strong points of the original car and Skoda has made sure that it remains the same. The doors open nice and wide for easy ingress and egress. You’re hit by that lovely leathery smell that you typically get in most luxury cars that are swathed in leather. The dashboard comes in combination of black and beige and feels extremely well put together. There aren’t too many jazzy elements, no faux wood but even then the dash looks very elegantly designed.
The center console is dominated by a 6.5-inch touch-screen display that gets radio, USB/Aux-in, Apple connectivity and an SD cars slot. It comes with SmartLink, which mirrors your phone, which enables the driver to safely use the phone while driving. Also on the menu is the Canton Sound System, which comes in the L&K variant and gets 12 speakers and a subwoofer.
Below the audio unit is the air-con unit, which worked, quite well even in Mysore’s sweltering heat but we think it looks a little old school considering touch is the way to go now.
The front seats are extremely comfy and can be electrically adjusted in a multitude of ways to find the right driving position. Moving to the back, it’s where you realize the Superb really has the edge over the competition. Legroom bests most cars above its segment and there is no car that can best the Superb when it comes to back seat comfort.
You can see in the image above how well my 6 plus feet colleague fits in. You get an air-con unit for the rear passengers and also something called the Boss Button with which the front passenger seat position can be adjusted from the rear seat. The only thing we thought could be better is the under-thigh support, which was a little lacking during our stint on the rear bench.
Skoda knows practicality like a few others do and this can be noticed in how storage friendly the cabin is. There is a jumbo storage box housed in the front armrest, which gobbles up your tablet, cools your snacks. If that’s filled to the brim, the glove box can also be used to keep your favourite colas cool.
Skoda has taken convenience to even greater heights when you move towards the boot. Firstly, it is now electrically operated and opens and closes at the touch of a button. Then there is the virtual pedal that enables you to open the boot with just a swipe of your feet below the rear bumper and the boot opens. This is a boon especially when your hands are full of shopping bags. And with 625 litres available, this is one of the largest boots in its class and above.
Engine and Performance
Skoda have heavily reworked the engines on the Superb. The 1.8 TSI engine is now a lot lighter and now makes 180 PS and 320 Nm of torque. There is also the 2.0 litre TDI unit, which puts out 177 PS and a very impressive 350 Nm of torque. But since we haven’t driven the diesel yet, lets concentrate on the petrol.
First up is the manual transmission. Now you might wonder if offering a manual here makes sense or not but it does. The Style variant with the manual petrol option makes for a very option as a chauffeur driven car. Apart from that, if you like to do your own driving, this petrol motor with that manual transmission is an absolute joy. Press the start/stop button and the Superb quickly settles into a muted refined idle. The 6-speed gearbox is extremely slick and shifting is more a joy than a bane. Acceleration is crisp and the Superb goes through the gears very quickly getting to triple digit speeds in no time at all. In-gear acceleration is good too and should you be in the wrong gear, all it takes is a downshift to pass those big trucks.
You also have the option of a 7-speed DSG gearbox, which gives you the convenience of an automatic but then with this gearbox you get 250 Nm of torque on hand as compared to 320 Nm in the manual. This does show a little when you need the thrust and use the paddles on the steering to downshift and use all the revs because of that slight deficit of torque. But then you do get one of the quickest shifting gearboxes out there. With the DSG variant you also get to choose between different driving modes depending upon the kind of usage. Overall, the 1.8 TSI comes across as a smooth and refined engine that offers very good performance and is decently frugal when you choose to cruise.
Ride and Handling
The Superb is meant for comfort and it does very well on that front. The ride quality is supple and absorbs most undulations with aplomb. The suspension feels extremely taut but never uncomfortably so. Skoda knows how to set up the suspension and it shows. But make no mistake, this isn’t just a straight-line cruiser. We were confronted with a barrage of corners en route Madikeri and the Superb was an absolute blast. Skoda informed that they have a new differential set up which helps vastly to get optimum traction. We can vouch that it works. Even with its generous dimensions the Superb had no problems stitching corners. Body roll is minimum and the car goes through the corners extremely flat. Very impressive!
Skoda had got it right with the Superb right from the word go and its no wonder that its one of the most popular cars from Skoda’s stable. The new car betters the older car on almost all aspects and makes for a brilliant buy offering fantastic new looks, spacious new interiors, plenty of features and a great drive. With prices starting at Rs. 22.68 lakh ex-showroom Mumbai for the base variant, the Superb is a complete package for those looking for a luxury sedan to be driven around in and is just as good should you decide to get behind the wheel!