The third-generation Skoda Superb liftback was revealed in Europe overnight ahead of its public premiere at the Geneva motor show on March 3 and launch in Australia during the first quarter of 2016.
Skoda’s new range-topping model made its premiere in the Czech capital of Prague, and was immediately given the rather daunting moniker of “the best Skoda ever” by the brand. The company has sold about 700,000 first- and second-generation Superbs.
Taking more than a handful of design cues from the Vision C concept that premiered almost a year ago to the day — just as Skoda promised — the new Superb is also pitched as a more upmarket proposition, and a more stylish one to boot.
It will bring new levels of multimedia, safety and driving technology to the brand, will offer more cabin and cargo space, and be a faster and more nimble offering than before, according to Skoda.
While the outgoing model is somewhat utilitarian in design, the new one adds more flair — adding “pepper and salt” to the company’s styling language, as Skoda CEO Winfried Vahland told CarAdvice it would do, during an interview in Paris last October.
The car’s proportions, body contours and that new C-pillar design all hark to the Vision C, with only head- and LED tail-lights and other minor details altered substantially. The overall body shape is almost coupe-like, though Skoda’s signature square-edged design remains in part.
This new version of the famed nameplate that dates back to the 1930s is now 80mm longer in the wheelbase than the current Superb, freeing up even more cabin space, and 28mm longer overall, though the front overhang is 61mm shorter, meaning a more dynamic stance.
The current Superb is a feature on the limo circuit due to its big cabin, but this new one is even roomier. Front occupants get 39mm more elbow room and more headroom, while rear leg room is a “stately” 157mm. Crucially, rear elbow room is also up 69mm over the narrow outgoing model.
The 625-litre boot capacity is 30L more than in the second-generation model and spanks that of most rivals. However, attendees at the launch have noted that, unlike the previous Superb’s dual-mode boot opening, the new model gets a conventional (optionally foot-operated) electric hatchback.
According to UK media, an Estate version of the new Superb will be revealed in the Northern Hemisphere spring, meaning some time around March-April.
But despite the increased dimensions, the use of Volkswagen’s MQB architecture — understood to be a stretched iteration of that used on the all-new VW Passat rather than the Golf as with the outgoing car — has shaved up to 75kg off the kerb weight. There’s a completely redeveloped chassis with MacPherson strut front and a multi-link rear axle.
Inside, Skoda is promising an even greater array of clever touches than before. True Skoda fans will be relieved to hear that the Rolls-Royce-aping umbrella holders in the doors remain — in fact, instead of just one umbrella in the rear-left door, there is now one in each of the front doors.
Other interesting touches include: a mechanically retractable towing device, a tablet holder in the rear and a tablet storage compartment in the front Jumbo Box, a USB port and 230V socket in the rear, grippy bottle holders that allow single-handed opening of 0.5-litre bottles and an extra high-visibility vest storage compartment in all four doors.
Both front and both rear doors will each hold a 1.5-litre bottle. The interior’s versatility is increased by the option to fold down the back seats from the boot. The passenger seat can also be folded down. New cargo fasteners secure loose objects in the boot. In addition, there are new storage nets on the inside edges of the front seats and a removable LED torch in the boot.
There are also new air-conditioning systems, including for the first time a new three-zone system. There’s also the latest generation of Park Assist, and the overdue addition of a rear-view camera. The traditional handbrake is replaced by an electric parking brake as standard.
There is also a total of four new infotainment systems based on the Volkswagen Group’s MIB suite. The infotainment includes MirrorLink, and can integrate both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s the option of a WiFi hotspot, too.
There are eight engine options available in Europe, all EU6 direct-injected turbocharged units (five TSI petrol, three TDI common-rail diesel) based on VW Group MQB technology and matched to DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions.
Expect Australia to get the fettled 140kW and circa-400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel that premiered in the new Passat, plus a 132kW/280Nm 132TSI petrol version.
There is also expected to be the option in Europe — and hopefully Australia — of the EA888 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine from the Golf R pumping out about 206kW/380Nm, matched to an AWD driveline with Haldex 5 clutch. This engine will replace the 191kW/350Nm 3.6-litre V6.
The new Superb is the brand’s first model to offer adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control, a system of adjustable driving modes from Sport to Comfort. VW’s XDS+, a function of the electronic diff lock that brakes the inside front wheel, is also standard fare.
Safety equipment includes Multi-Collision Brake, low-speed autonomous braking and seven airbags. You can also option — and remember, Australian-market standard equipment is yet to be finalised — radar-guided cruise control, Lane Assist and a blind-spot monitor.
“This car marks the beginning of a new era for ŠKODA,” said CEO Winfried Vahland.
“In recent years, we have renewed and expanded our model range. The new ŠKODA Superb demonstrates our aspirations in the automotive mid-class segment. In terms of creativity and technology, it reaches a new level of performance, shows ŠKODA’s reclaimed position and leads the way into the future of the brand.”
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