2009 Skoda Superb TDI & TSI Review & Road Test
The big car's not dead, but the big engine might as well be.
- 2009 Skoda Superb MkII TDI Elegance; 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel; six-speed DSG automatic; hatch - $48,990*
- 2009 Skoda Superb MkII TSI Elegance; 1.8-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol; seven-speed DSG automatic; hatch - $45,990*
Options (As Fitted):
- Metallic Paint $990; Six-CD Stacker $790; Park Distance Control $590; Satellite Navigation $2890
Words: Matt Brogan Photography: Paul Maric
Seldom does a car's name actually describe its nature in any way at all, I mean think about it, the Fiesta is hardly a celebration of life, the Colt is by no means a young male horse and the Camry, well just what does that mean anyway?
However, when it comes to describing Skoda's latest long-wheelbase hatch, more apt a word could not be considered than its own name.
Now before I get down to the nitty-gritty, let's tackle the big one first, Superb's ambiguous, and slightly ungainly looks.
The Superb is a car truly built for function. It's shape and design, while unlikely to win any beauty pageants, does make an incredible amount of sense once you open the doors and step inside.
Inside all the odd, out of place curves and awkward lines allow Superb an incredible amount of space. There's lengths of legroom, hectares of headroom, and a boot that just seems to go on forever.
More than this the Superb offers an elegant ambiance and a level of comfort that, were you to remove the badges, could easily be considered on par with German rivals that sport a much heavier price tag - and all this before even turning the key.
A quick glance around the sensible, contemporary styled cockpit and you'll find standard features that are sure to impress, and should you have deep pockets, an option list that will make the Superb the envy of all your friends.
As standard equipment Superb offers dual-zone climate control; trip computer; self dimming centre and wing mirrors (which are also electrically operated, heated & self-folding); single-CD tuner with auxiliary input, SD card reader, 10GB hard drive and steering wheel mounted remote controls; cruise control; auto headlamps and wipers; remote keyless entry; and electrically adjustable front seats with three memory positions and lumbar support.
Functionality is simplistic, intuitive, and the driving position excellent, especially when you consider that most long wheel-base offerings are designed purely to pamper those in the rear seat, though I'm not for a moment suggesting the Superb fails to do exactly that.
The rear pew is a veritable acreage of space and with seat heaters as standard, a centre armrest with ski hatch - and even an umbrella holder in the door - is a rather cosy and practical proposition as well.
Road noise is acceptable at 71dB at 100km/h, though personally speaking, a little more sound insulation wouldn't have gone astray given the coarse chip asphalt found on most of Victoria's roads.
In terms of ride we found that, thanks to a strut front, multi-link rear suspension arrangement, Superb's comfort levels drew many favourable comments from even the most die hard German car enthusiasts who happened to grace the back seat.
Best yet, the compliant ride has done little to impede on the car's handling with the Superb managing impressive levels of stability and responsive steering even when driven to a level one would not accustom with a vehicle of such decadence.
Over the course of a fortnight we were fortunate enough to test two offerings from Skoda with both the 2.0-litre TDI, or turbo diesel, and 1.8-litre TSI, let's just say turbo petrol for simplicity's sake, availed.
For my money the TDI is the pick of the pair with a requisite 350Nm of torque on hand quite low in the piece and smooth shifting six-speed DSG transmission.
Performance is quite capable for the car's purpose and manages brisk, almost lag-free acceleration from standstill. Overtaking too makes highway travel a confident affair, even with a car full of people and luggage.
The TSI model is similarly impressive and manages to hold its own in city traffic, thanks primarily to the wallop of torque being available from just off idle and the additional cog of the petrol model's slippery seven-speed DSG.
Fully loaded the petrol Superb is kept a little busy in the gears, and high in the rev range when tackling steep hills, but it's not that you'd notice. The gearbox is meticulously smooth with no hunting or muddled grabs for low gear evident. In fact with the exception of a slight stumble off the mark, I'd even go so far as to say the 'box is one of the best I've driven this year.
Fuel economy returns are impressive whichever option you choose and, given the TSI model can run on 95RON petrol quite comfortably, make the economics of the situation a matter of clarifying your priorities. For the record, our week in each vehicle returned 8.7 litres per 100 kilometre and 7.2L/100km for the petrol and diesel respectively.
As is becoming the trademark for most large Skoda's of late (think Octavia) the Superb features a versatile split level boot that sees the car transform between a large sedan or a large hatch at the push of a button.
Cargo capacity is a capacious 565 litres when used as an ordinary boot and can be expanded to a cavernous 1670 litres with the 60:40 split fold rear seats down and cargo cover removed.
Safety comes courtesy of front, side, curtain and driver's knee airbags as well as ESC with Traction Control and ABS brakes with EBA and EBD. The Superb scored the highest possible five-star rating in stringent EuroNCAP crash testing.
With these remarkable lower capacity engines proving themselves as both capable and efficient in either petrol or diesel guise, the large car equals large fuel bills challenge is dead in the water when it comes to Superb.
When you consider the value on offer, this is one large car certainly worth a look in.
*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go: