All-new Skoda Superb boasts impressive practicality and plug-in powertrains
Skoda’s fourth generation ICE flagship has all the trappings of success: greater efficiency, improved styling, and specification choices galore. But will it be enough to lure buyers away from its more premium VW Passat sibling?
If you aren’t familiar with the Skoda Superb's prowess in the saloon segment, you might think that badge is a little brazen. Bold it might be, but Skoda can’t have been far wrong given the Superb has thrived over the last two decades, whilst competition in the shape of Ford’s Mondeo and Kia’s Optima dwindled and eventually went extinct entirely.
No doubt a large part of this success was due to the taxi and fleet markets, although that’s far from a slight on the Superb’s character — the big saloon excelled in these roles due to its alluring value for money and ability to wear huge mileages without complaint.
Has the new model stuck to the tried and tested recipe, then? Well, yes and no. The styling treads a careful line — opting for minor tweaks and improvements rather than a ground up overhaul. And most would agree that the new fourth gen car is handsome and tasteful, if somewhat unremarkable on this front.
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A new octagonal grille (as seen on the Enyaq IV and several other models) helps to reinforce a strong brand identity and pairs nicely with the 40% more powerful LED Matrix beam headlights. The new shape is also slipperier than before; aerodynamic drag has been chopped by up to 15%, which should afford improvements in both fuel economy and performance.
If it looks like the new Superb’s had a growth spurt, that’s because it has. A 40mm increase in length will likely entice criticism from those who argue cars are becoming too large for our outdated road network, however, the Superb was already a sizeable machine, so what’s the harm if it offers more practicality? And that it does, adding up to 30 litres to the old car’s cavernous 660-litre luggage capacity.
Gen 4 Superb plays its true trump card when you delve into configurations; the sheer range of different variants is almost unheard of for a modern car of any type. This means that there’s a Superb for almost every buyer, perfectly tailored to any intended application.
The stalwart petrol and diesels models are present and correct in both two and four-wheel-drive flavours — offering a variety of power outputs from 148 bhp through to 262 bhp. A 148 bhp 1.5 litre mild hybrid petrol also features for the first time, but it’s the new PHEV that’s grabbing headlines. Capable of 60 miles of electric running, the plug-in should offer the most compelling blend of performance and efficiency if you can stomach the slightly loftier asking price.
If that wasn’t enough choice, Skoda will even sell you most of those powertrains in estate guise. Interestingly, though, no all-electric Superb is on the cards for now.
We can’t yet comment on how this spacious Skoda handles (or how it feels when you put the foot down) although we do know that the Czech marque has endowed the Superb with some serious grip, courtesy of Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres (as pictured). After our thorough test of the same rubber on XPENG’s P7, we can confirm that the Skoda will benefit from confidence-inspiring traction and significantly improved refinement.
Skoda’s Superb should impress before you even set off, as the ergonomically designed cabin benefits from pneumatically controlled massage cushions in the seats (spec dependent), a fully digital instrument cluster, a central infotainment screen up to 13 inches, and 100% recycled interior textiles – Volvo EX30 and Renault Arkana, eat your hearts out.
That leaves just two questions: when can I get one and how much will I need to spend? Well, you can expect to see the new Superb in showrooms around summer 2024, but pricing data is less concrete. Given the previous model started at around £33,000, a similar, if slightly increased price tag sounds likely. Equally, best guesses suggest that Skoda will undercut its Passat stablemate, although it’s unclear just how wide that gap will be.
With so much in its favour, the latest Superb should have no trouble carrying the flag for ICE saloons a little longer. As a classy, well-specified, and keenly priced alternative to its costly German siblings, has Volkswagen Audi Group made this Skoda a little too sSuperb for its own good?
Hero image credit: Skoda