Space, economy and equipment - all for a decent price
Space, economy and equipment - all for a decent price
The latest VFACTS figures reveal that 638 Skodas had been sold from January to June this year, up on last year's 477 for the same time period. Of those, 130 were Superbs; if it doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s not. In the Large Car under $70,000 category, it only represents a tiny fraction - 0.3 per cent.
The Superb's competitors - Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore, Honda Accord, Nissan Maxima, and Toyota Aurion - have all wiped the floor with the Skoda. Part of the problem is a relatively small product range. So, to help it to gain traction sales-wise, Skoda Australia has just released its station wagon version, the aptly named Superb Wagon.
Of the sedan and wagon, it’s the wagon which is the looker. Its large rear end seems to balance out its stubby snout, but there are also nice design cues like the curved crease in the side of the tail light which goes from the bumper cutline and matches up with the swage line running along its flanks.
The roof rails and chrome window surrounds imbue a sense of expense, while there are other neat touches like the car’s name embossed into the headlight surround. Finished in the Platin Grey paint of our test car, it's not exactly a show stopper, but it’s not an optical assault, either. It sits somewhere in the middle – bland but safe.
The interior fares slightly better, with neat, wood highlights which aren’t over the top, but break up the masses of grey leather and black plastic. The steering wheel’s chrome upside-down arc mimicking the chrome surround on the Superb’s grille is a neat touch, while the wheel-mounted buttons and scroll-wheels make it cinch to navigate through stereo and vehicle functions.
Volkswagen’s RNS510 satellite navigation is included as standard, with touchscreen and voice activation. It’s such a simple system to use, and features an SD card input as well as MP3, CD and DVD playback. With such a variety of formats it’s a shame the speakers which go with it can’t handle any bass at high volumes. The speakers don’t emulate a tight bass without vibrating and sounding floppy. At least the treble is crisp and clear.
Instrumentation is very Volkswagen-like, meaning clear, readable dials with a multifunction display in between. Dual-zone climate control, four seat-heaters, parking sensors front and rear (both displayed on the central touchscreen) and enough storage space – including a nicely sized glovebox – make the Superb well equipped. But there’s another handy feature which comes standard.
Park Assist helps the driver to parallel park the car by taking over steering control. It uses the front and rear parking sensors to detect the distance from the surrounding cars, while all the driver needs to do is apply gentle accelerator and brake inputs and the car parks itself. Given the length of the Superb and consequently the diminished ability to judge its outside corners, it’s a handy feature to have.
By virtue of its length, the Superb Wagon discloses another interior secret – its colossal space. There is no wagon on the market today that has anywhere near the legroom of the Superb Wagon. Front seat passengers can put their seats back as far as they like without encroaching on the rear passengers; there’s no compromise.
The overall interior width doesn’t really allow for it to be a permanent adult five seater, although on short trips, the middle rear seat will be fine, and perfect for a young child. Really though, how many times do you carry around five adults on a long-term basis? Treated as a full-time four-seater/occasional fve, the Superb’s combination of boot space, head, leg and foot room surpass anything else in its price range.
At 633 litres, the boot is just enormous, but being a wagon, it’s easily accessible, too. With the rear seats folded down, an amazing 1865 litres becomes available. There are luggage holding straps ensuring nothing goes astray on your journey, as well as a space-saver spare wheel hidden underneath the boot floor. There's even an umbrella hidden in the rear passenger side door.
On the road, the Superb Wagon feels like a Volkswagen - no real surprises there. It receives a softer suspension tune than the very firm V6 version meaning it’s able to absorb the bumps and undulations our roads offer with surprising ease. It also handles decently, with a neutral stance unless it’s really pushed, so while it’s no sports car, it turns in and hangs on as you’d expect from a luxury family wagon.
The steering is a little numb in feel but well weighted, and doesn’t suffer too badly from all 350Nm running through the front hoops; torque steer isn't an issue. The Superb’s brakes aren’t over-assisted either, so it doesn’t suffer from any snatchiness, but rather offer a progressive feel, and plenty of deceleration when called upon.
Volkswagen’s six-speed DSG and smooth 2.0 litre diesel combo again are put to use in the Superb – a drivetrain we’re pretty familiar with by now. The transmission supplies rapid shifts when rolling, while off the mark it can be a little laggy, something you’d get used and account for after a short time.
But what came as a real surprise was the Superb’s fuel economy. With most press cars we expect to use slightly more than their ADR sticker figure. During testing under ADR compliant procedures, Skoda’s Superb Wagon returned a figure of just 6.6 litres/100km. So what amazed us the most was in our week of driving, through our regular mix of city freeways and suburban backroads, our test car used just 6.1L/100km.
Think about this: no other car in this category could go near that sort of fuel use, not to mention that none of the Superb’s competitors (sedan or wagon) come as a diesel variant. The diesel Superb wagon isn’t slow, either. At 8.9 seconds from 0-100km/h it’s no ICBM, however its mid-range pull (between 2000rpm-3800rpm) helps when darting through city traffic as well as overtaking on country roads.
As a car-buyer who’s looking for something with a lot of room, with quality fittings and comfortable surroundings, then the Superb Wagon could well be a worthy contender.
Throw in brilliant fuel economy, an unlimited kilometre warranty, excellent ride, standard sat-nav and park assist, and it's not just families who should be taking a serious look at the Superb Wagon. Taxi companies should also be looking very seriously at this car.
Of course, we know that’s happened overseas, but in a country where we’ve become accustomed to large cars, then the big Skoda should be sized up by plenty of buyers. Some would say that the looks don’t do it for them. That may be so, but do looks always matter? After all, look many AU Falcons Ford sold...
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