The Skoda Superb, until the arrival of the Kodiaq SUV, functioned as the Czech brand’s flagship for more than 15 years and it has always been about lots of space for not a great deal of cash. The thing is, where the MkI was a re-bodied, long-wheelbase, Chinese-market Passat, and the MkII was an ungainly-looking thing, this MkIII – launched in 2015 – is a brilliant, stylish machine. It comes with a range of tried and tested Volkswagen Group four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, there’s the option of four-wheel drive, and the gearbox choices are a manual or a dual-clutch automatic. With a five-strong trim line-up and plenty of options, there should be a Skoda Superb Estate to suit every possible need.
MRP from lb21,330 – lb37,590
Did you know? Although the modern-day Superb began life in 2001, Skoda built the original Superb way back between 1934 and 1949.
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It’s hard to think of a reason why you’d need any more car than the exceptional Skoda Superb Estate. It’s a supremely well-rounded vehicle that’s incredibly strong in nearly every department and, to cap it all, is priced to make distantly related stablemates like the Volkswagen Passat Estate and Audi A4 Avant (which use a lot of the same hardware) look ridiculously expensive.
For a big car, it’s a bit strange that there isn’t at least one engine option with more than four cylinders, as there are a couple of nice 3.0-litre V6s floating around the Volkswagen Group that would work well in the Superb, but given that there’s a 276bhp turbocharged petrol version as a halo model and a strong 187bhp diesel for those who like a bit of frugality with their powerful performance, then there’s little problem. Using the word Superb as a model name could have seen Skoda fall flat on its face, but this excellent executive/family car thoroughly lives up to its brave billing. It’s one of the finest all-rounders in the modern motoring marketplace.
Design & Exterior
Interior & Comfort
Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Spec & Trim Levels
Running Costs & Fuel Economy
We Don’t Like
Inert handling at the limit
Lack of a six-cylinder option
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Design & Exterior: (8/10)
Without being extraordinary in the looks department, the Skoda Superb nevertheless manages to cut a dash – it’s an imposing thing, given it’s the best part of five metres long, but it doesn’t appear bloated or utterly lost on smaller wheels. Talking of which, even base models have 16-inch alloys as standard and all Superb Estates have LED rear light clusters too. As with almost all modern estates, the rear screen of the Superb Estate is angled in a rakish manner, which does ultimately cut down on load-lugging capacity – but, as we shall come to see, that really doesn’t matter too much.
The roof rails switch from black to silver as soon as you step one level up the specification tree and there’s no doubting a Superb wagon is improved by the larger alloys that are fitted from mid-ranking SE L Executive (18-inch) upwards, but you’ll struggle to make the Skoda estate look ugly. The Sportline trim near the top of the range beefs up the looks with a body kit.
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Interior & Comfort: (10/10)
If we’re going to criticise the Skoda’s interior, then the only thing we can say is that the dashboard design lacks for much in the way of visual flair. Regardless, it is laid out intelligently and is made of high-quality materials, feeling as solid and shot-through with excellence as anything else in the Volkswagen Group. Leather upholstery makes an appearance in the SE L Executive and Laurin & Klement cars, while Alcantara sports trim can be found in the Sportline; lower-grade Superbs have cloth seats. But, unless you want really dramatic architecture for your car’s control fascia, there’s little to grumble about with this cabin.
You will not get much more commodious vehicles than the Skoda Superb Estate, and it’s chock-full of what the Czech manufacturer calls ‘Simply Clever’ touches to make your life easier. While the space for front-seat passengers is generous, to say the least, it’s the rear accommodation that will take your breath away. Little this side of a Mercedes S-Class has as much legroom in the back, and there’s more than enough space to get three adults across the beam. Up front, all cars have height-adjustable seats, but electric adjustment of the driver’s chair is reserved for the SE L Executive grade and above.
With an absolute mass of huge storage cubbies in the interior, plus an air-conditioned glovebox, stowage is absolutely not an issue in the Superb Estate. And then there are the great little touches, like a plastic clip on the A-pillar to hold parking tickets, cup holders with rubberised, knobbly mats that allow for one-handed opening of drinks bottles, an ice scraper housed in the fuel filler cap, and – on SE cars and above – umbrellas stashed in each of the front doors; that’s right, umbrellas.
All of this, and we’ve not even mentioned the cavern that’s attached to the back of the Skoda’s passenger compartment. The boot holds 660 litres with all seats in place and a goliath 1,950 litres with the rear row folded away, so you’re going to need a panel van to beat the Superb for cargo capacity. The only shame is that the back seats are only 60:40 split and that having additional levers near the boot hatch to drop them is an option, although – unless you have ventilated seats or the base S model – the front passenger seat can also be folded flat, to allow for items 3.3 metres long to be packed in.
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Technology & Connectivity: (9/10)
Base models come with DAB, Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch touchscreen in the dash, a USB port, a multifunction trip computer (controlled by a leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel), and Skoda’s CareConnect with Emergency Call software. Only one level up, Adaptive Cruise Control, an eight-inch touchscreen, SmartLink+ (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink support), and dual-zone climate control make an appearance, while SE L Executive is the first grade at which 3D satnav mapping on a lovely 9.2-inch Columbus touchscreen system and an electrically operated boot are standard. The 10-speaker, high-end Canton sound set-up and tri-zone climate control are reserved for the Laurin & Klement specification.
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Performance & Handling: (8/10)
The Skoda Superb Estate uses familiar engines from the Volkswagen Group portfolio, all of them turbocharged and all of them four-cylinder units. There is a 1.4-litre TSI with 124bhp and 148lb ft, although it’s limited to the cheaper versions and it’s dealing with a lot of car here. Better to step up to the 148bhp version of the same engine, which is boosted to 184lb ft and also features clever cylinder deactivation technology, meaning it can run on just two pistons when the throttle loads are light to save fuel.
However, we reckon you might as well steer clear of the 1.4-litre units – and the 1.6-litre TDI, for that matter – and go for one of the 2.0-litre motors that the Superb truly deserves. The diesel is offered in 148- and 187bhp variants, and there’s little in it between them in terms of performance, economy and price, so we’d advocate going for the beefier diesel, as its 295lb ft is most welcome in terms of moving the Superb Estate’s bulk briskly about the place.
There are a couple of petrol 2.0-litre TSI petrol options, the first a 217bhp unit that – until recently – saw service in the Skoda Octavia vRS and Volkswagen Golf GTI, while at the top of the tree is a bonkers 276bhp/258lb ft petrol engine that’s a derivative of the motor seen in the Golf R, SEAT Leon Cupra, and Audi S3 hot hatches. Installed in the sober exterior of the Skoda wagon, and paired exclusively to a DSG automatic transmission and four-wheel drive, it makes for a car that is capable of 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. It’s a stunning thing, but it’s not cheap and you’d be far better off with one of the 2.0 TDIs, which are almost as quick for mid-range surge.
Despite this, all the engines and gearboxes used in the Superb are smooth, reasonably frugal, muscular, and quiet. Indeed, the whole car is aimed squarely at giving the driver and its occupants the most relaxing motoring experience possible. Ride quality is magnificent on all sizes of alloys, noise suppression is fantastic throughout, and in general the car is an absolute delight to command in day-to-day driving, with light yet well-judged controls and good visibility out.
What it isn’t, though, is particularly thrilling. The steering is good and so is the body control, but no more than that – hence why the high-revving, 2.0 TSI 280 is such a strange choice of engine at the top of the tree. Driving the Superb fast doesn’t bring a huge amount of driver reward, so it might have been better to just offer a lazy, torque-rich 3.0-litre V6 as the flagship instead.
One final word: the 4×4 system, an option on some cars and standard fit on others, doesn’t bring any appreciable benefits to dry-weather handling, while it significantly blunts economy and emissions, plus it’s more expensive to buy. Unless you really need it, the Superb is better off without.
Recommended engine: 2.0 TDI 190 SCR DSG
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Safety Features: (10/10)
Every Superb Estate has seven airbags and ABS with a whole morass of three-letter initialised safety systems – things like ASR, HBA, EBV and so on. In essence, these mean the car comes with an electronic differential lock, corner braking control, steering input assistance, traction control, anti-slip control, and more, as standard. There’s also a tyre-pressure monitoring system, Front Assist with an automatic braking function, and ISOFIX child seat fittings across the board. Cornering fog lights, a driver fatigue monitor, and full LED lights front and rear quickly become common spec from SE upwards, while the Superb has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
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Specs and Trim Levels: (9/10)
There are 12 colours in total for the Superb Estate, although they are not all available on all cars. Most come with the choice of a rather dull palette, and Pacific Blue flat is the only non-cost paint; it’s lb195 to switch to Candy White (also non-metallic). Any metallic or pearlescent paint is more than lb500, and they include Petrol Blue, Magnetic Brown, Business Grey, Moon White, Cappuccino Beige, Brilliant Silver, and Quartz Grey (all metallic shades), with the sole pearl-finish being Black Magic. The Sportline trim doesn’t quite follow these rules, though, offering Laser White as an exclusive non-cost paint, with only five of the above coats (Black Magic Pearl, Business Grey, Moon White, Brilliant Silver, and Quartz Grey) available for a fee. However, it gets its own, daring lb800+ metallic called Dragon Green on the options list.
There’s a five-strong core grade line-up, which runs S, SE, SE L Executive, Sportline, and then Laurin & Klement (so-named after the founders of the forerunner company to Skoda). There’s also SE Technology, which adds navigation, half-leather/Alcantara upholstery, and parking sensors to the SE for a nominal fee. While even base Superbs are well-equipped with a good range of comfort and safety technologies, it’s really SE L Executive you want to be aiming at. It has all the luxuries on board that you’d expect of a car that challenges anything from a Ford Mondeo Estate up to a BMW 5-Series Touring, you could happily drive one out of the showroom without ticking any options boxes, and it’s priced more reasonably than the Sportline and L&K cars.
Size and Dimensions
The Superb Estate is not a barge that is going to slip easily into all garage moorings. It’s nigh-on five metres long and more than two metres wide with its mirrors out, although that decreases to 1,864mm with the mirrors folded in.
2,031mm (including door mirrors)
1,477mm (including roof rails)
Max towing weight without brake
730kg (1.4-litre TSIs) to 750kg (all 2.0-litre models)
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Running Costs & Fuel Economy: (9/10)
Apart from the range-topping petrol model, all Superb Estates can return more than 40mpg on the government combined cycle, with some – the eco-focused 1.6 TDI Greenline III model, for example – said to be capable of over 70mpg. Low emissions figures (and low list prices) across much of the range mean benefit-in-kind tax levels as low as 22 percent and great-value company car tax costs, while the fact that every Superb Estate is less than lb40,000 (without options) means first-year road tax will be no more than lb500, with all cars qualifying for the lb140 flat rate of VED from year two onwards. For a giant machine, it’s ludicrously cheap to run.
Reliability and servicing
Like so many cars nowadays, the Superb has an on-board, condition-based servicing monitor that announces when the vehicle requires attention. Various servicing plans are offered by Skoda to make maintenance a hassle-free affair, while a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty is unlimited mileage for the first two years, and can be extended for up to five years and 100,000 miles for a fee of around lb600. Skoda’s dealers have a great reputation for customer service and the brand scores highly for owner satisfaction.
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This is the Superb’s strongest suit: when you consider it’s a cavernous, luxurious great estate that’s easily the match of anything in the D-segment, or that it could even be considered a rival to the likes of the Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5 Series Touring, and Mercedes E-Class Estate… and yet, in its most basic trim, it costs about the same as a top-spec Ford Fiesta Vignale, you realise just what a bargain this thing is. Go right to the top of its specification and drivetrain tree for the unhinged Q-car that is the 2.0 TSI 4×4 model and you still won’t surpass lb40,000 unless you start adding a shedload of options. It’s hard to know how Skoda could have priced the Superb any more aggressively, short of giving them away for free in dealerships.
COMPANY CAR BUYER
If low monthly tax costs are your absolute priority, stick with the Greenline version of the 1.6 TDI and team it to SE L Executive spec. We’d say that the 2.0 TDI 150 is worth the relatively small extra monthly tax bill, though.
Go for that bizarre range-topping 2.0 TSI petrol model: 4WD, DSG, capable of 0-62mph in less than six seconds… and it looks like a base model S. What a Q-car.
The Laurin & Klement cars are the winners in terms of interior opulence and if you opt for the 187bhp 2.0 TDI, you’ll find it the most cosseting Superb of all.
BMW 3 Series Touring
If your estate car needs to be sporty to drive, you’d better have the 3 Series. Thing is, it’s considerably smaller within and more expensive than the Superb.
Ford Mondeo Estate
Criminally overlooked car time and again, mainly because of anti-Ford snobbery. The Mondeo wagon is a class act; it is, though, beaten by the Skoda for space and value.
Mercedes E-Class Estate
This is ostensibly a car from two classes above the Skoda Superb, so you can imagine the price difference. And which has the bigger boot? That’s right, the Superb.
Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer
A huge car physically and much improved in its latest incarnation, the Insignia Sports Tourer nevertheless isn’t as well packaged as the Superb, nor as premium in feel.
Volkswagen Passat Estate
One of the few cars that can get near the Skoda for carrying capacity, the Passat is a fine machine, but it’ll never get your pulse racing in the slightest.
What others say
“The Skoda Superb Estate makes a brilliant family car, because it’s comfortable, classy, well-priced, and incredibly spacious.”
“The Skoda Superb Estate is the consummate all-rounder, offering lots of space, impressive comfort, and great value, making it an interesting alternative to an SUV.”