From £19,1408
Not the most exciting of fast estate cars, but probably a truer Superb, and a more appealing car, as a result

Our Verdict

Skoda Superb Estate

Skoda plots to grab a bigger slice of the pie with its likeable and hugely practical Superb range

What is it?

The Skoda Superb 2.0 TSI Sportline might be the answer to a question nobody asked. Something along the lines of: “What would happen if we dropped an engine good enough for one of Volkswagen’s pokier Golf GTIs into one of the most notoriously comfy and unexciting, yet legendarily spacious, family cars in the world?”

You’d end up with a car much too incongruous to work, right? One likely to appeal to precisely no one with a clear idea of the wider choice contained within the current mid-sized saloon-slash-estate car market. Wouldn’t you? Well, perhaps not. This car certainly appeals to me – and for surprisingly rational reasons.

Sportline trim has just been added to the Superb showroom range, as it has to that of other models within the Czech firm’s catalogue, as part of a model-year refresh. Unlike some sporty derivative treatments, it sits in the mid-range of the Superb buying hierarchy; there are Sportline Plus and Laurin & Klement options above it, and another three trims below.

Plump for a Superb Sportline and you get just enough mechanical and cosmetic purpose to suit a car like this, and not a hint more. Nineteen-inch alloy wheels, understated sports bumpers and a light dusting of gloss back body trim mark out the exterior, along with badging discreet enough to be overlooked by the majority. On the inside you get Alcantara sports seats, a very mildy promising three-spoke steering wheel, polished pedals and some slightly generic but inoffensive-looking faux carbonfibre decorative trim.

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Under the skin, you get lowered, stiffened sport suspension and a hint of additional brake-based torque vectoring over and above what a normal Superb is capable of. Sportline Plus cars get ‘progressive’ passive variable-ratio power steering as well; our test car didn’t have that, but did combine its sport suspension with optional adaptive damping at extra cost.

And that’s it. It’s the go-faster treatment done with a particularly light touch – and it’s surprisingly easy to like.

What's it like?

You can have a 148bhp petrol or diesel engine in your Superb Sportline, or a 187bhp diesel, if you fancy one; the punchier diesel’s the only other four-wheel-drive option. Those other versions are cheaper than this one, predictably, and might make you feel a bit less like you’d lost touch with the real world than you do as you feel this generously sized estate car bound up steeper gradients with most of the urgency of a decent hot hatchback.

But here's the thing. Once you get beyond to the unlikeliness of the idea of this car, it’d be easy to convince yourself that the reality of owning it, and driving it on a daily basis, could make sense.

The Superb is big; big on the outside, big on the inside (even by the standards of a lot of £40,000 saloons), conventionally laid out, solidly built (albeit a touch plain-looking in places) and persuasively comfortable. The Sportline derivative treatment doesn’t change any of that. It’s not one of those sporty options that misses out on boot space, or room for a spare wheel, for the sake of having a subwoofer because it’s mid-level trim; and so that gigantic 660-litre boot, rising to nearly 2000 litres with the seats folded, is present and correct – and is sufficiently cavernous to swallow more stuff than you’ll get in the back of most largish SUVs.

In the second row seats there’s room for even taller adults to stretch out, with the slight sense of narrowness-of-cockpit with which owners of previous-generation Superbs will be familiar having been banished at the last major model redesign.

Up front, the car’s driving position is fine – not particularly low, but all the more convenient-of-hip-point for daily use as a result of that – and the car’s sports seats offer a nice blend of everyday comfort, lateral support and understated material richness.

The 2.0-litre engine isn’t piped through the kind of sports exhaust made to attract attention, and if its audible note is digitally augmented by the car’s stereo when you use Sport driving mode, it isn’t made overly loud or contrived as a result. It’s just a really good engine: smooth and quiet when you want it to be, torquey when punting around, rangey and waspish when you’re in the mood, and – even here – ready to chip in with a high-30s-mpg economy return when you need one.

It’s got lots of mid-range punch but not so much that the accelerator pedal loses its linearity, and still feels nicely responsive and very willing to rev beyond 5000rpm. None of which is news: it’s just how the EA888 is. But you don’t have to drive many directly comparable engines from rival manufacturers to realise that it’s a rare combination of qualities.

It’s perfectly easy to drive the car smoothly because the controls make it so. Even in Sport mode, the Superb’s accelerator isn’t overly sensitive and its gearbox isn’t given to sudden unwanted downshifts.

But if you get stuck into the farther reaches of that powertrain’s performance, you’ll find plenty of appetite for speed. The car has all the traction it needs courtesy of its clutch-based four-wheel-drive system, taking off front T-junctions at full power without much more than a hint of wheelspin and very little power-on understeer. There’s A-road overtaking urge to spare whenever you want it, too, and more motorway grunt than anyone would be well-advised to deploy in 2019.

But it’s the Superb’s ride and handling that perhaps best characterise it. The sheer size of this car’s wheelbase, and its considerable width and bulk, would make it very challenging to endow with the agility and involvement of a first-order performance car – and very likely unrecognisable as a Superb if Skoda tried. Which is why it’s with some relief that you find out they haven’t tried that. They have, instead, simply made this car better-controlled, more accurate-handling, more assured and easier to drive at speed than other Superbs.

There’s a degree of extra lateral body control about the car, and a shade of extra handling urgency as you negotiate corners – but nothing you’d go so far as to describe as an incisive turn-in. The standard car’s tendency to heave and pitch when you tackle uneven surfaces has been dialled out, but Skoda’s stopped short of replacing it with a sense of untapped damping authority – because that’d only have made it less comfy-riding at the speeds it’ll mostly be driven. And so there’s just suppleness, and a sense of calm, level control, about the car over most A- and B-roads, with only sharper edges able to tease out a slightly short, hollow feel about the ride.

Should I buy one?

Do you like the sound of a dynamically well-rounded, fast, practical, decently priced family car? Are you in the apparent minority that recognises you’re less likely to get one by buying an SUV with a raised centre of gravity than you are by buying something lighter and lower, in which your money will probably go further as far as performance bang-for-the-buck is concerned? Then quite possibly.

Dismissing this Superb on the basis that it might not be fast enough, exciting enough or desirable enough to be worth your attention would certainly be pretty daft; dafter, even, than the idea of the car might have seemed in the first place, believe it or not.

Because this car has all the pace and poise you’re likely to need on the road – and it won’t annoy you on the office commute with a tetchy ride, a noisy engine or over-sensitive controls. It’s smart and stealthy, and it doesn’t shout “look at me” at every other poor soul trapped in that traffic jam on the ring road. It doesn’t have the sort of model badge you might feel sheepish about explaining to someone.

It could be more exciting, admittedly. But, on top of everything else, this is every inch the big, quiet, solid, comfy, easy-going underground bunker of a car that we’d all want a Superb Estate to be.

Skoda Superb Sportline 2.0 TSI 272 4x4 DSG Estate specification

Where Middlesex Price £36,495 On sale Now Engine 4 cyls in line, 1984cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 268bhp at 5500-6500rpm Torque 258lb ft at 2000-5400rpm Gearbox 7-spd twin-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1554kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 5.5sec Fuel economy 30.1-33.2mpg (WLTP combined) CO2 197g/km (WLTP combined) Rivals Vauxhall Insignia 2.0T GSI, Peugeot 508 SW Puretech 225

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Comments
22

1 March 2019

If you want the real stealth look, you can have this drivetrain, all 272ps, in SEL Executive trim. And with a bit of hangling, probably £32-33k. That's a lot of car for the money.

1 March 2019
Will86 wrote:

If you want the real stealth look, you can have this drivetrain, all 272ps, in SEL Executive trim. And with a bit of hangling, probably £32-33k. That's a lot of car for the money.

I hear you and totally understand where you are coming from. However, resale is the only issue with that. Sadly of course :-(

1 March 2019
Wait a couple of years and this will be a true bargain.

1 March 2019

Sportline trim level on the Superb has been around longer than mentioned. Looks good coupled with Dragon Green paint finish.

2 March 2019

What a very nice car i will not essitate to get my hand on very smart and sporty, i really love this.

Gistfx

2 March 2019

So if I look up Q car in the dictionary will I find a pic of this? Seems the ultimate Q car to me being so subtle and unassuming, and it retains its comfy almost luxury bias instead of being hard riding and sporty, a brilliantly judged car, in my opinion, and far superior to its brittle riding alternative sports estates and suvs.

2 March 2019

I currently own a 2.0TSi Mk2 Superb, tweaked to 252 ps & my only real gripe is that the FWD can't cope with a full-throttle departure. Not a big problem, but a bit annoying when I've been driving SWMBO's R estate....

I can't really fit the new Superb into my mid 1960's garage, (can't get out, the door is too big), so I might have to resort to leaving it one the drive, otherwise it would be just what I need. 

I need to talk to my insurers re. any possible premium increase. 

I still have a soft spot for Skoda cars, still a bit of the underdog in Joe Public's opinion but decent build quality & capable of surprising other drivers. If only Skoda would sell a 4WD petrol vRS, that would be my sensible choice.

They do list a 190 ps petrol 4WD estate but only in SE-L trim, & after adding all the desirable options it's £6K above list, which is kinda crazy.

Drgaon Green excepted, quick Superbs are very nice cars.

 

Delticdavid

2 March 2019

I bought a Passat 190GT estate because there weren't enough used Sportlines around and it's turned out to be a car better car than I imagined (the needs of my job dictate the type of car I buy, not what I want to run). The Passat / Superb wagons really are Swiss army knives of cars and nothing from holidays to the worst farm lanes to an ability to cruise in utter comfort to an ability to drive hard when the roads allow has proved too much for it.

I do look at 320d estates on the motorway occasionally then I remember the boot just isn't big enough for all the gear I carry. I think the V60 might tempt meeting to look there next time but again the boot just doesn't have the space I need...

2 March 2019
SamVimes1972 wrote:

I bought a Passat 190GT estate because there weren't enough used Sportlines around and it's turned out to be a car better car than I imagined (the needs of my job dictate the type of car I buy, not what I want to run). The Passat / Superb wagons really are Swiss army knives of cars and nothing from holidays to the worst farm lanes to an ability to cruise in utter comfort to an ability to drive hard when the roads allow has proved too much for it.

I do look at 320d estates on the motorway occasionally then I remember the boot just isn't big enough for all the gear I carry. I think the V60 might tempt meeting to look there next time but again the boot just doesn't have the space I need...

I've been searching for almost new 190GT Passat's without much sucess. If you feel that you could use a bit more power, AMD Racing quote an increase to 260ps for your engine.

FWIW I've had 5 cars remapped by them & been very pleased with the results, including my current Superb which was mapped about 6 years ago, from Skoda's claimed 200ps to 252ps. Makes a noticable difference to the performance & better economy too.

 

Delticdavid

2 March 2019

in a Superb recently, and I was greatly impressed, then sat in a Q8, and was totally underwhelmed, try this test, put on a blindfold,  jump in a Superb, wind down the window and put your elbow on the sill, and generally around the door card, then do the same in a Q7 or Q8, and then tell me which feels the more expensive car, the Superb, or the Q with quality that has no place in a Lada never mind an Audi..  Sit in the third row of seats in a Q7, and put your ouside elbows on the rest with the cupholders, now tell me whats quality about the feel, more 80's Fiesta than 21st century premium. 

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