Volkswagen’s Skoda continues to push harder in to Australia in a battle to win the hearts and minds of local buyers. Despite producing many great models, it hasn’t been an easy job with Skoda yet to hit the sweet spot down under.
Nonetheless the Czech based car maker is only getting started and the latest model in its ammunition is the Skoda Superb Wagon.
The world got its first glimpse of the Superb Wagon at Frankfurt last year and the model has now made it to Australia with a starting price of $40,990*.
From the front, the Superb Wagon keeps the same familiar face as its Superb Sedan brother whilst the rear gains a clean modern look that seems to complement the overall design better than in sedan guise.
In daytime the Superb Wagon’s chrome grille and touted lines combined with its unique front headlight design portray a sense of masculinity whilst also remaining elegant and modern.
Nighttime brings an entirely new dimension to the Superb Wagon thanks to its rear design. Although looking somewhat conservative during the day, each rear taillight comprises of a C-shaped light broken into three sections that shine through when engaged.
Creating elegant shapes for front or rear lights is nothing new to the Volkswagen-Audi team, but the night-look for the Superb Wagon gives that extra edge to the Skoda design.
The 2010 Skoda Superb Wagon measures 4,838mm long, 1,817mm wide, and 1,462mm high (stretching to 1,510mm with the standard roof rails). You wouldn't be buying a Superb Wagon if boot space wasn't an issue and the Superb Wagon delivers an impressive 1,865 litres of capacity with the rear seats folded down or 633 litres with the seats in place (only beaten by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon in its segment).
Moving inside the Superb Wagon delivers European-quality luxury at an affordable price. Even with two tall adults sitting comfortably in the front, rear legroom is big enough to easily fit two basketball players and a normal adult for long journeys.
The front seats offer great side support and are wrapped in European quality leather.There is soft plastic used throughout the cabin and you'll be amazed as to the how quiet the cabin is even on rough country roads.
There are some "simply clever" design elements to the Skoda as well, for example there is room for an umbrella inside the rear left door.
Then there is the luggage restrain system which thanks to the rails in the boot can be adjusted to any location.
There is also a removable magnetic battery-powered LED flashlight that can be used at night to change a flat, or just for illumination.
Overall it's easy to note that some considerable thought has gone into the car's interior design. As expected it's made up of parts from the Volkswagen factory (so it lacks that little bit of uniqueness).
To test drive the new Superb Wagon, Volkswagen handed us the keys to drive from Melbourne out through rural Victoria along twisty mountain roads as well as a variety of city and highway sections. First on the test drive schedule was the base model 118TSI Superb Wagon Ambition.
If you're wondering how a 1.8-litre petrol engine can catapult a car as big as the Superb Wagon (which weighs 1583kg - tare mass) from 0-100km/h in just 8.6 seconds and deliver a fuel economy figure of 7.5L/100km? You're not alone. The figures are nothing short of surprising and goes to show that engine-size really doesn't matter. Even though the figures might sound good on paper the crucial test is real-world figures.
From Melbourne airport directions were followed out towards Bacchus Marsh and then onto Werribee Mansion. The 118TSI feels like it can be a 2.5-litre, but alas it's a tiny 1.8-litre. Thanks to its turbocharging technology and Volkswagen's impressive engineering it outputs 118kW of power and 250Nm of torque.
The figures are not all that high when you consider how fast it accelerates given its weight. The missing piece of the puzzle is the 7-speed DSG transmission (Direct Shift Gearbox). You can be assured that if this was a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) instead, the Superb would be noticeably slower.
Volkswagen's DSG transmissions have been around for some time (and arguably set the standard for an automatic gearbox industry-wide) but the 7-Speed found in the Superb 118TSI is relatively new and helps the small petrol engine deliver power smoothly and across the rev range.
Driving around corners the Superb behaves just like a Passat Wagon. Smooth, planted and with a hint of torque steer out of tight corners. It would be nice if all variants were all-wheel drive but even driven via the front-wheels the Superb is composed and well behaved across Victoria's dreadful roads.
Controlling the car is Skoda's multi-function 4-spoke leather steering wheel. This can (and should be) upgraded to an optional $440 3-spoke multi-function steering wheel with paddles for controlling the DSG (this should be a standard feature). If you're thinking paddles are just a gimmick, think again, they allow instant access to gear changes when the time comes to have some fun in the superb (and for the price, it's worth it).
118TSI aside, the engine above is the people's choice. The Superb Wagon 125TDI makes use of a 2.0-litre diesel engine that delivers 125kW and a massive 350Nm of torque. This means a 0-100km/h time of 8.9 seconds whilst using just 6.6L of diesel per 100km. Not bad at all. Real world testing during our drive returned 6.8L/100km.
The acceleration to 100km/h is marginally slower than the 118TSI due to an extra 44kg of weight (added by the diesel engine) and its 6-speed DSG. The reason for the DQ-350 6-speed transmission is, as the name suggests, it's ability to take up to 350Nm of torque. The 7-speed is better suited to less powerful engines.
The diesel performs well once its running and delivers most of its torque down low (between 1750-2500rmp) but does seem to lack that instant response you gain from the turbo petrol.
Even so, diesel does make more sense given its better fuel economy and higher pulling power. Skoda expects diesel Wagons to take about 70 percent of sales with the remainder to be split largely in the favour of the 118TSI followed by the top-of-the-range Superb Wagon Elegance 4x4 V6 191FSI.
Both four-cylinder diesel and petrol models provide sufficient power and torque around town but lack that little bit more power for comfortable highway overtaking. Hence the V6.
The V6 makes use of a 3.6-litre with 191kW and 350Nm of torque coupled to a 6-speed DSG (similar engine to that found in the Passat R36). This variant was not driven during the media launch (check back in the next few weeks once we've driven the 4x4).
After a three hour drive program out and back into Melbourne, it's fair to say the Skoda Superb Wagon is yet another great addition to the Skoda range. With the backing of Volkswagen, Skoda is here to stay and potential buyers of European large wagons would be mad to miss out on a test drive.
It may be a little quirky and unique, but that's what Skoda is all about. It has character and in this day and age that's a rarity!
Additional luxury features of the Elegance and Elegance 4x4 variations:
- Satellite navigation ‘Columbus’,
- Leather interior in combination leather/artificial leather,
- Bi-Xenon headlights with AFS (Adaptive FrontLight System),
- Electrically-adjustable driver and passenger seat with driver seat memory function,
- Alarm system
- 400W, 10 channel amplifier and 10 speakers.
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