Simple and unassuming from the outside, getting to know the Skoda Superb is like going on a treasure hunt to discover the many quirky inclusions on the inside.
It's interesting to note that 440 cars bearing the Skoda badge were sold in May 2016, a figure that is very close to Porsche's 424 vehicles sold. To put that in perspective, Renault sold 779 vehicles which is double Skoda's figure, while the top-selling passenger car marque was Toyota at 17,201.
The Skoda Superb is a rare car - not just when it comes to the sales figures either, those that already own one would know that the rarity factor is far deeper than that. The Superb offers impressive value for money, with lots of space and lots of equipment.
After spending a week behind the wheel of the Superb 140TDI Wagon, I suspect many new car buyers don't know what they're missing out on. The Superb matches premium badges for kit, quality, space and handling - often at a cheaper price.
The Superb falls into the large passenger car segment and competes with the likes of the Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore, Hyundai Genesis, Peugeot 508 and Toyota Aurion - all priced under $70,000. It could also be cross-shopped against medium passenger like the Mazda 6, Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo.
The Superb line-up is pretty simple. The petrol 162TSI and diesel 140TDI have the same trim-level, and the top-spec petrol 206TSI gets a few extras like 4x4 and chrome-tipped tailpipes. All three variants are available in sedan - though the boot is roof-hinged so it's almost a hatch - or wagon style, and have a six-speed direct-shift gearbox.
The Superb 140TDI Wagon is priced at $45,690 before on-road costs, and our test car is finished in Moon White which is a metallic paint and an optional extra that adds $700. It also has the $4700 tech and image optional packs, bringing the total price as tested to $51,090.
The image pack adds keyless entry, smart start, LED interior lighting, 19-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, paddle shifters and drive modes - all of which are standard on the top-spec 206TSI - while the tech pack adds adaptive chassis control, blind spot monitoring, lane assist, rear traffic alert, traffic jam assist, automatic parking, premium sound system, hands-free tailgate and emergency assist.
There are clever touches and hidden surprises in the Superb, with ingenious ideas 'borrowed' from more expensive, premium cars, like umbrellas in the front doors. Very Rolls-Royce.
Elements like super-soft Alcantara appointed seats are more commonly found in the prestige realm, yet you'll find the material adorning the seats of the Superb. As well as being gorgeous to the touch, classic and comfortable, the drivers seat is heated and electrically adjustable with memory function as well.
The pocket in the door is lined, and there is a handy bin receptacle that fits into the space. No more random rubbish floating around the floor or securing a plastic bag via the glove box. Another quirky inclusion is a mounting system for a tablet that hooks on to the drivers headrest.
The centre console bin is also lined, and there's a slide open storage nook in front of the gearshift that houses 12V, USB and Aux points. It's quite shallow and long, stretching back under the centre stack, and it's actually quite tricky to reach all the way in.
The green, blue or white LED ambient lighting that includes strips along the dash, doors and in the footwell, is very cool and the brightness can easily be adjusted via the hub of the interior - an 8.0-inch touchscreen with rear view camera. As well as lighting and other car settings, the menu includes navigation, traffic, radio, media, phone and voice.
When it comes to convenience, the Superb has tyre pressure monitoring, auto headlights, auto start/stop, adaptive cruise control as well as a WiFi hotspot and SmartLink which facilitates the use of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's a CD player tucked away in the glove box, along with two SD card slots.
The instrument cluster features an information display that is incredibly easy to use and full of helpful tidbits. As well as showing navigation details, you can scroll through recent destinations and make quick and easy changes on the move.
It also shows audio and media information, phone, vehicle and driving data as well as menus for driver assist systems that allow you to change the volume for each different alert. The system is clear, well laid out and using the controls on the steering wheel it's easy to scroll through the multiple options for each section.
No dual-zone climate control but don't be disappointed, instead it has a three-zone air conditioning system that includes separate controls for rear passengers. The back seat doesn't miss out on LED ambient lighting either and there is an abundance of space.
The seats are Alcantara trimmed and they're flat, wide, spacious and comfortable. The centre armrest is big and solid, and the cupholders fold out. The lined door pockets have a special spot for a 1.5-litre bottle, there are pull-up window shades and also a working cigarette lighter or 12v outlet and an ashtray - unusual to see these days. Rear passengers are considerably well catered for and can expect to travel in comfort and style.
Cargo space is a whopping 660-litres, expanding to 1950L with the rear seats folded down. The loading lip is nice and low, while the shape of the opening is almost square, doing away with strange angles that can sometimes make it difficult to load large cabinets or even big-screen TVs (speaking from experience).
The practical and functional theme continues, with plenty of additions even at this end of the vehicle. As well as the electric tailgate, there are shopping bag hooks, cargo hooks, levers to flip the seats from the boot, a 12V outlet, cargo net and cargo blind. The blind is very interesting - it has three different stop points. Simply press down on the front edge, and it releases and slides back to the next stop point.
There are so many great ideas packed into this car, short of adding a fridge and ice-dispenser it's not missing much!
Under the bonnet lies a 2.0-litre four cylinder turbocharged diesel engine, also found in the Volkswagen Passat, that produces 140kW and 400Nm. It's teamed with a six-speed dual-clutch DSG.
There's only a little bit of turbo lag in the lower rev-range, but once you're in the mid-range it's a cracker. The DSG does tend to fuss about a little but smooth and confident inputs on the throttle can help it decide what it wants to do.
It feels quite light on the road for its size, and while it's never going to tackle corners like a go-kart, it retains a good level of balance without body roll. Just watch it in the wet, particularly when taking off from a standstill; the turbo packs a bit of punch and you can easily spin the front wheels in these conditions. If you want all-wheel drive, you'll need to spend more.
The ride is quite comfortable around town, and particularly on the highway at speed. Larger, softer angled undulations are easily absorbed, though the 19-inch alloy wheels and sports suspension result in a slightly harsher experience from time to time over sharper lumps and bumps.
The diesel engine is fairly unobtrusive when it comes to the amount of noise that permeates the cabin, though you will notice a little bit of road and tyre noise.
Combined fuel economy is a claimed 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres. Over various trips in mostly urban environments, we averaged between 7.0 and 8.5L/100km.
The Skoda Superb has a three-year warranty with roadside assist and you can choose to add a pre-paid servicing plan that would cost $1299 for three years or $2650 for five years, and extend the warranty by a further two years of $1699.
The Skoda Superb does its name justice. It's loaded with features for the price, practical, comfortable, confident and spacious. There are many interesting and useful little additions - you'll have a lot of fun discovering them.