Škoda’s second factory in Kvasiny can be proud of many of their achievements. The S110R coupe is still considered by many to be the epitome of Škoda design and desirability whilst the Roomster showed what Škoda could achieve when given free reign within the Volkswagen Group. However, their greatest achievements have occurred since the introduction of the Superb in 2001.
Since then, Kvasiny have produced 3 Superbs, each remarkable in their own merit. The mk1 proved that Skoda can do premium and the mk2 highlighted Skoda’s innovative approach to product design particularly with the Twin-Door feature, but it is the recently launched mk3 that the workforce at Kvasiny should be most proud of. Here is a car that truly showcases what Skoda is capable of achieving, and the results are staggering.
This third generation model is built on the MQB platform with deliveries starting here back in August with a host of 4-cylinder engines in both petrol and diesel guise. Fish Brothers Škoda in Swindon obliged in loaning me a 2.0TSI SE-L Executive for the day to see this achievement for myself. Finished in moon white metallic, the Superb is a breathtaking piece of design inspired by the Vision-C concept. Sharp creases, neat tucks and pert lines combine to create a striking, bold and classy design which puts many more premium models to shame. Genuinely, I can’t think of another car in this segment with such a unique design. It is magnificent, a fact you appreciate as you spend more time around the car. The detail in the headlights, inspired by Czech’s rich history of producing crystal glass, the sharp creases down the flanks and the sculpted tailgate – the best iteration of Škoda’s divisive C-shaped tailgate design to date – mean that you appreciate the car more as time goes on.
Pull the well-weighted door handle and open the sizeable doors – big enough to store an umbrella in the clever hideaway compartment – and you’re welcomed into a proper, bona fide Business Class cabin. Škoda has mastered the clever trick of keeping the design simple and neat but not bland. A subdued undertone of quality alludes from every orifice of the sizeable cabin in stark contrast to the crass, bling-inspired cabin found in rivals such as the Mercedes’ C-Class. The dash is dominated by an 8 inch touch screen which flows down to a chunky transmission tunnel which is not polluted by an unsightly handbrake lever, for this is the first production Škoda to benefit from an electric handbrake, for better or for worse.
Getting comfortable in the cabin is easy. The heated electric leather seats provide plenty of adjustment, as too does the steering wheel in both reach and rake as you would expect. Inching the car away under the watchful eye of Fish Brother’s Sales Manager was a heart-stopping moment. I drive an Octavia on a daily basis which is by no means a small car but the Superb does, at first, intimidate with its sheer size (some 4.86m in length). Creeping forward with heightened senses I am soon out onto the open road and I can properly get to know this luxury limo.
Whilst the Superb can’t ever hope to hide its size, it does a commendably good job of providing an engaging driving experience. I approached the first right hander expecting a numb, floaty response full of understeer, as you would usually expect in a car like this. The steering however provided reasonable feedback and the chassis remained remarkably composed. There was no floaty feeling, far from it. The Superb felt secure and planted as I plotted a course over the Salisbury Plains and so my confidence in the car’s ability grew and I pushed a little harder through the next bend. Whilst the seats lacked sufficient lateral support the composure of the car was a real surprise. Without the use of adaptive-damping and trick electronics, the Superb handles with real poise and puts in a good effort at shrinking around you as the road narrows and tightens, making it a pleasure to pilot on roads like these.
Of course, whilst this is reassuring to know for those Sunday afternoon blasts over the hills to the Fox and Hound for a Sunday roast, it is the motorway where the majority of Superbs will spend their time; and that is no bad thing. A myriad of driver aids help to make the task at hand as effortless as possible. Adaptive cruise control uses a radar hidden in the grille to keep you a safe distance from the car in front, slowing as your path is interrupted and resuming your chosen cruising speed as the obstruction clears. Blind spot monitor, lane assist and traffic sign recognition all further aid the driver on the motorway. The cabin is well insulated, the effective ventilation system easy to operate and the sound system and infotainment system are, as we have come to expect from Skoda, a real breeze to operate. DAB, Bluetooth, voice control and Satellite Navigation are all standard at this level in the range.
This particular car is the £27,020 2.0 petrol with a six-speed DSG gearbox. The engine is shared with the Octavia vRS and offers real potency, at times almost at odds with the executive cruiser feel of the car, with 220ps on offer and a 0-60 time of just 7.0 seconds! The Drive Mode Selection allows you to choose from three distinct modes. Eco mode rather blunts the throttle response and encourages the car to change gear at the earliest opportunity, great for the motorway, but a bind at any other time. Sport accentuates the throttle response and has the gearbox hold on to gears right up to the 6,200rpm red-line which can be fun, and is certainly the best way of catching a note or two of the sonorous tsi which is otherwise muted during operation, but personally I found Normal offered the best mannerisms for the car. But if truth were told, and it goes against my own principles to say this, I wouldn’t spec this 2.0 petrol in the Superb. Whilst this and the range-topping 280bhp 2.0tsi offers performance to rival and embarrass the Octavia vRS, I can’t help but feel that a 2.0tdi would suit the car better. Available in either 150bhp or 190bhp the diesels offer better economy and a power delivery better suited to an effortless passage from Milton Keynes to Basingstoke for the Quarterly Sales Review.
Rear passenger space is class leading, boot space equally so, although the twin-door arrangement hasn’t survived, the mk3 making do with a regular hatchback tailgate. Worse still, they seem to have forgotten to fit a rear-wash wipe. I thought they’d learned that lesson 20 years ago with the Octavia? Simply Clever touches abound throughout the car and are complemented by a range of cubbyholes, hooks and storage boxes to ensure that the Superb fits into your life without you even noticing. And it will! Certainly, your Bank Manager won’t notice for all of this starts at just £18,640 for the 1.4tsi S whilst even the L&K comes in at only £28,740; this for a car that Auto Express considered a rival of the Mercedes E-Class.
If anything, that is possibly the only criticism I could levy at the car. The car is so remarkable yet easy to live with that it almost becomes a victim of its own success. You could have this master of automotive design at your disposal without ever really noticing. That is until that dark, rainy night in the mist of winter. The svelte crystal inspired xenon headlamps light the way home magnificently, the detachable torch in the boot makes fishing errant children from the cavernous rear seats a doddle and the umbrella stored onboard shelters you from the rain as you make your way up the garden path. Then, at that moment, you’ll share the same sense of pride in your Superb as all the staff in Kvasiny.