Skoda Superb hatchback review
"The Skoda Superb hatchback has more space, comfort and capability than just about any car for the price"
- Impressive amount of safety kit
- Acres of interior space
- Plug-in hybrid model
- Some rivals cheaper to run
- Not sharpest handler in the class
- Three-year warranty a little disappointing
We’ve come to expect cars from Skoda to offer more than just value and competence, but the Skoda Superb hatchback offers enough to confound even the highest expectations. With a lovely interior, incredible versatility and plenty of equipment, the Superb is one of the best Skodas we can remember.
While priced to compete directly with rivals like the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia, the Superb provides customers with the roominess and refinement of a BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class or Jaguar XF, which cost thousands of pounds more. And if you disregard its price tag altogether, the Superb can still give far more prestigious rivals a stern test in several areas.
A facelift in 2019 added new bumpers, a different grille, LED headlights and new Skoda lettering on the boot, along with various specification upgrades. The facelift didn’t noticeably alter the car’s appearance. Skoda also launched the Superb iV plug-in hybrid model in 2019, which is a great addition to the range and is predicted to account for up to a quarter of sales from 2020.
Since its launch the Superb has always left us impressed and perhaps our only criticism is that it’s not overly exciting to drive – but this isn’t really its purpose. For most journeys, there are few cars for the price that can beat it for comfort and relaxation. With excellent build quality, there’s little chance of this Skoda’s rear badge turning out to be ironic. In fact, its biggest challenge might be a global trend that's seen customers turn away from large family cars towards SUVs like the Skoda Kodiaq.
With numerous power outputs available from a range of petrol and diesel engines, there’s plenty of choice for anyone considering a Superb. We reckon the entry-level 1.5-litre TSI petrol with 148bhp is a great choice, offering smooth power delivery to complement its refined nature. There’s enough power to get from 0-62mph in just nine seconds, while fuel economy of up to 44.8mpg isn’t too shabby for a large petrol car.
The majority of engines are available with a DSG automatic gearbox, and it’s also possible to specify the 197bhp diesel and the 268bhp petrol engines with four-wheel drive for extra traction on slippery surfaces. Choose the latter, however, and fuel consumption becomes excessive. It's an engine shared with hot hatches like the Volkswagen Golf R and SEAT Leon Cupra, but you'll struggle to manage over 33mpg.
With a fuel-efficiency figure of around 188mpg, the Superb iV plug-in hybrid is far more likely to strike a chord with business buyers. It uses a 1.4-litre petrol engine, electric motor and battery pack to deliver an electric range of up to 34 miles, covering off most daily trips. It also boasts big company-car tax cost savings versus the equivalent diesel.
Trim levels include SE, SE L, the racily styled SportLine Plus and the range-topping Laurin & Klement. Even the SE model has the basics covered, with air-conditioning, Bluetooth and DAB radio with an eight-inch touchscreen. Climb the range up to Laurin & Klement (whose name pays tribute to Skoda’s founders) and features like 18-inch alloy wheels, full and adaptive matrix LED headlights, a Canton 10-speaker stereo, keyless entry, heated windscreen and heated seats boost comfort, while the 9.2-inch touchscreen navigation system on top models is very impressive.
A recent update has also introduced ‘care connect’ on all models, which automatically contacts the emergency services if the safety restraint system is activated. Depending on spec, there’s also a Skoda Connect app that allows you to access and activate the lights and horn of your Superb from your smartphone.
We tend to expect larger cars to be safe and the Superb doesn’t disappoint, with a full five-star score after Euro NCAP crash tests conducted in 2015. There are seven airbags fitted as standard, while options include Crew Protection Assist (£475), which closes the windows and sunroof and tightens seatbelts if a crash is deemed imminent. Driving aids like lane-keeping assistance and blind-spot monitoring are also offered.
The Skoda Superb finished 10th out of the 75 cars ranked in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK, and Skoda as a brand finished fifth out of 30 manufacturers.