Skoda positions itself as an affordable European brand but the Skoda Superb could be considered something of an anomaly in the line-up of the Volkswagen Group's Czech spin-off.
Skoda prices their 2.0-litre 125TDI Elegance Superb wagon at $50,490 (before on-road costs) while the Volkswagen Passat wagon 2.0-litre 125TDI is priced from $45,990 albiet with less generous standard features such as eight airbags instead of nine, halogen headlamps (the Skoda gets Bi-xenon headlamps) and 17-inch alloy wheels to the Superb's 18-inch alloys.
Make no mistake, the Superb wagon has all the hallmarks of a luxury car and then some. This is a sumptuously appointed family wagon with more space than many large SUVs offer.
There’s full leather trim, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, electrically adjustable folding door mirrors with auto dimming, auto dimming rear vision mirror, heated front and rear seats, automatic directional bi-xenon headlights and auto wipers, a luggage restraint system and 18-inch alloy wheels, along with a host of other conveniences.
It even gets a special storage compartment for a wet umbrella built into the inner panel of the left rear door – James Bond style.
As Skoda’s range-topping model, the Superb wagon also picks up the Park Assist automatic reverse parking system but misses out on an electrically operated tailgate, at least as standard equipment. It’s a convenient option that also comes with an automatic retractable luggage compartment cover.
There’s a premium finish inside with plenty of soft-touch materials and lavish appointments such as wood veneer and real metal accents along the fascia and door trim. The dash itself presents a smooth, flowing design, incorporating four different materials that provide an upmarket look and feel.
But as with most wagons, space is the standout feature, and the Skoda Superb gives new meaning to the word.
There’s enough rear legroom to make Gold Class cinema seating seem almost tight. It’s ludicrously generous but perfect for a pair of oversize basketball stars.
Boot space is equally cavernous with 633 litres of load space with the rear seats up and 1865 litres when folded. The downside is that the rear seats don’t fold completely flat, which is more of a minor nuisance for some rather than a deal-breaker.
Also part of the Skoda Superb wagon’s generous standard inventory is a clever luggage restraint system that can prevent the likes of runaway grocery bags from spilling their contents all over the boot.
It’s a decent looking wagon, with smooth lines, a tapering roofline and a stylishly raked tailgate that gives it a sleeker profile than the Superb sedan.
It’s well screwed together, too. There are no rattles or creaks, even over some shockingly rough surfaces and the doors close with a dull thud, much like flagship models from the more expensive German marques.
The Skoda Superb wagon is available with two petrol engines and two diesels, all of which meet Euro 5 emissions standards. The petrol range includes the entry-level 118TSI and the range-topping V6 191FSI, while the diesel line-up includes the 103TDI and the Skoda Superb 125TDI Elegance, tested here.
You can also get a Skoda Superb wagon with a 4X4 drivetrain for the same money as the 125TDI ($50,490) but with the less-powerful 103TDI engine.
The Skoda Superb 125TDI produces 125kW of power and 350Nm of torque between 1750-2500rpm and is well matched with its six-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission. The 191FSI is also equipped with a six-speed DSG, while the 118TSI and 103TDI variants get a seven-speed DSG.
There’s ample low down torque available from the 125TDI and the gear ratios are well spaced to move the Skoda along more than adequately. Push on, though, and that pulling power tends to dry up relatively quickly, although it never feels slow or unresponsive thanks to the quick-shifting DSG gearbox.
There’s a sport mode that holds the shift points until higher up in the rev range for more rapid progress, or drivers have the option of switching to the sequential manual mode using the shift lever.
It’ll go from 0-100km/h in 8.9 seconds and has a top speed of 218km/h.
Despite its lengthy proportions, the Skoda Superb wagon never feels its size from behind the wheel. In fact, it’s quite a sporty drive – to the point where you’re reaching for paddle shifters, but unfortunately, they aren’t part of the Superb wagon kit – standard or optional.
Ride and handling is also well sorted with typical Volkswagen Group competency. Blemishes, bumps and potholes are simply absorbed by the Skoda’s suspension system.
Not only that, the car feels remarkably well composed and settled over rougher surfaces and there’s low-level body roll on turn in.
It’s good on a long trip on the freeway too, with a high level of noise insulation inside the Superb’s cabin, making for a particularly serene driving experience, even at maximum legal speeds.
Apart from all the luxury kit on board, it’s also got all the right safety gear including nine airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, anti-skid reduction and whiplash-optimised head restraints.
For such a large family load-lugger the Skoda Superb wagon is surprisingly frugal. On long distance hauls Skoda says you can expect to use as little as 5.6L/100km, but our average combined reading over the weeklong test period was 6.7L/100km.