2009 Skoda Superb - First Steer Review
How cheesy, we arrive at Sydney Airport and the limo waiting to collect us is none other than a Skoda Superb.
Sitting in the back seat of a car we are yet to drive, while a glorified taxi driver dodges and weaves through Sydney traffic to get us to our hotel – what a horrible way to begin a car launch! So I thought.
The chauffeur loaded our luggage (three adults worth, along with my gigantic camera bag) into the boot and we all jumped in – with me riding behind the driver.
After closing the door, I was at a loss for words. I could literally stretch my legs out comfortably and not have my head of hair touching the roof, an absolute first for me in almost any car.
It turns out our equally tall driver had his seat in his preferred driving position (which was almost all the way back), so there wasn’t any trickery involved with first impressions.
To top it all off, the drive to the hotel was a non-event in terms of near misses and regular Sydney drivers, not a bad start I thought.
The following morning we set out on our drive route, which was to cover a great portion of the bush north of Sydney, eventually winding back and stopping at the Rose Seidler house, which is a very interesting place and most certainly worth a visit if you’re in the need for something to do over the weekend.
My co-driver and I started the trek in the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel Superb. Producing 125kW and 350Nm of torque, this feisty diesel is mated to a six-speed DSG. For a car that weighs some 1655kg, the diesel really hauls it along with great ease.
Hills are dismissed with a dollop of throttle, while gaps in traffic are taken care of with a light hearted jab at the throttle.
As I have previously mentioned in my Skoda Octavia review, there is just something strange about the new DSG arrangement. It stutters and jolts off the line randomly if you’re inconsistent with your take-offs from a standing start.
Pricing for the 2.0-TDI starts at $45,990 for the Ambition grade and $48,990 for the Elegance grade (more on the grade divisions later).
Ride quality is absolutely spot on for cruising. The suspension simply soaks up holes in the road and made light work of the wavy New South Wales roads we endured.
Fuel consumption for the frugal diesel is just 6.9-litres/100km. While a dash from 0-100km/h takes just 8.8-seconds – just slower than the much more powerful and smaller, bog stock VE Commodore.
Where the 2.0-TDI liked a bit of roll-play in the corners (and I’m not speaking about the theatrical sense), the flagship 3.6-litre V6 laughed them off with each successive lob of the steering wheel.
Powered by the same engine fitted to le Passat R36, the 191kW V6 produces a hearty 350Nm of torque, with a note sonorous enough to get the ears tingling.
The engine is extremely smooth and deliciously linear. Gearshifts are smooth in the regular drive mode, but bordering on vicious when the six-speed DSG is placed in sport mode.
Although the ‘4x4’ insignia all over the car is a bit ‘puhleese’ – as are the four exhaust pipes – the top of the range Superb well and truly makes up for it in terms of handling and performance.
Where the 2.0-TDI felt a bit wishy-washy through the corners, the V6 effortlessly trounced them. The vehicle we were driving was fitted with the optional 18-inch wheels, so there was a significant increase in ride firmness, but it wasn’t overdone and tiresome.
Steering feel is very impressive with plenty of feedback on offer through the wheel, and the steering wheel size itself is also the way it should be, with enough space to grip it from each side in comfort.
Where the 2.0-TDI is the frugal model of the bunch, the V6 is respectively the least frugal, sipping through a combined 10.2-litres/100km.
The V6 gets bigger brakes than the 1.8TSI and 2.0-TDI. The 1.8TSI and 2.0-TDI receive 312x25mm front ventilated rotors and 286x12mm solid rear rotors. The V6 on the other hand receives 345x30mm ventilated front rotors and 310x22mm ventilated rear rotors.
Pricing for the V6 begins at $56,990 and is available in a single grade – Elegance.
In addition to the 2.0TDI and V6 models available in the Skoda Superb range, a 1.8-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol variant is also available, known as the 1.8TSI, but due to limited availability, we weren’t able to drive this variant.
It offers 118kW of power and 250Nm of torque and is priced at $42,990 for the Ambition grade and $45,990 for the Elegance grade.
The difference between Ambition and Elegance is $3000 in monetary terms. The difference in price nabs you Bi-xenon headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting System; electronically adjustable driver’s seat with memory; leather seats; alarm system with interior monitoring and an optional 400W, 10-speaker sound system.
One of the innovative and cool options is the solar cell sunroof, and before all those Toyota Prius fans start jumping up and down, Skoda had the idea first.
The sunroof, unlike a conventional sunroof, is fitted with solar cells that absorb the sun’s rays and use the power generated to operate the vehicle’s internal ventilation system. This allows the temperature of the cabin to be reduced by up to 25-degrees Celsius on a hot day, and it’s free! Well, the power generated is, not the sunroof, it’s a - gulp - $2290 option.
Parking assistance is also available as an $890 option on the Superb, it’s a feature that automatically parallel parks the car in the event you can’t be bothered or don’t know how – and it works really well!
Interior space across the range is remarkable. There’s 585-litres on offer in the boot (more than both Falcon and Commodore), while the rear leg room is just astonishing and needs to be seen to be believed.
Skoda has patented the technology it uses to split-open the tailgate. The technology allows the operator to open the tailgate as a boot or as an entire tailgate. The innovative technology works quite well and would well and truly come in handy when it comes to loading and unloading large items.
Safety equipment standard across the range includes nine-airbags (driver and front passenger front and side airbags, rear passenger side airbags, full length curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag). Electronic Stability Control is also standard across the range and the car scored a five-star EuroNCAP rating overseas and this was recently translated into a five-star ANCAP rating.
I may sound like a broken record here when it comes to Skoda products, but it’s nigh on impossible to fault what the Czech arm of VW is doing.
Although some may not agree with the design (I know it hasn’t grown on me just yet), it’s far from offensive and the rest of the car well and truly makes up for it.
Everything from the drive to the ride is done with the utmost precision, it’s any wonder half the limousine companies in Australia don’t purchase a large fleet of these cars.
If you’re in the market for a new large sedan and want something big enough to haul family and friends, your local Skoda dealership MUST be your first stop.
Innovation and creativity is key to the functionality and design of this car – it’s something the Japanese and Australian’s are yet to hear about.
*Please note: Pricing is pre on road costs.