Car reviews - Skoda - Superb - 162TSI
Space, ride comfort, features, value, exterior
Room for improvement
Front-end traction, DSG lag, brand image and resale.
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8 Aug 2016
Price and equipment
THE entry-level example of the Superb range, the 162TSI, priced from $39,990 plus on-road costs in liftback sedan guise tested here, is hardly equipped as such.
Standard fare includes the reach and rake adjustable multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio, phone and cruise controls, a comprehensive trip computer, tri-zone climate control, electric park brake, auto-folding and auto-dimming heated exterior mirrors with LED puddle lights, an auto-dimming centre mirror and 18-inch alloys on 235/45 tyres, although the latter was upgraded to 19-inch alloys with Pirelli Cinturato P7 235/40 tyres from the options list.
There is a USB input and 12-volt sockets are on offer in the front and rear, as well as in the luggage compartment, there are LED reading lights front and rear, the front armrest has an air-conditioned storage compartment, the rear armrest has a cup holder and load-through hatch and the door pockets can hold a 1.5-litre bottle.
This model’s infotainment system, controlled by an 8.0-inch touchscreen, has satellite navigation and SmartLink smartphone connectivity that allows the user to control the phone by Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or by conventional Bluetooth and USB input, with voice control.
The eight-speaker sound system can be fed by those systems or through a sensibly-positioned USB in the forward centre console, auxiliary input or two SD card slots there’s even still a CD slot, although this delivery method is disappearing from sound system input lists.
Also installed on the test car was the $1700 Image Pack, which ups the wheel tyre package to 19-inch alloys and adds keyless entry and start (with the button where the key would normally go) an alarm, the Driving Mode Selection system controlling 15mm lower sports suspension, LED interior ambient lighting and gearshift paddles, much of which is standard on the 206TSI 4x4 flagship.
The cabin is typically conservative but functionality is high. The Superb is seriously spacious, particularly in the rear where legroom is cavernous and headroom is more than adequate.
Not that the outgoing car was afflicted with a cramped cabin, but the MQB platform has allowed a wheelbase extension of 80mm to 2841mm and a wider track within sizeable overall dimensions – it’s 4861mm long and 1864mm wide.
Front occupants are also well-accommodated in comfortable – if firm – and heater-equipped seats that quickly bake your behind the driver is presented with a clear instrument panel, with a central information screen that offers myriad display options and dials with conventional increments.
Optional LED ambient lighting works subtly at night and chrome trim pieces abound within in concert with the beige interior trim the cabin does suggest a baby-boomer target audience, but the darker hue on offer would be less likely to show wear as quickly.
The boot space wasn’t tight before but it has also been improved, up by 60 litres to a considerable 635 litres or 1760 with the rear seats folded, accessed by an auto-opening hatch back bootlid well-disguised as a sedan lid.
The luggage area as a net as well as storage boxes behind the rear wheel wells, six anchor points, foldable hooks and room around the 16-inch steel temporary spare.
Clever features abound – manual side-window sunshades, a switch for front occupant control of the rear LED reading lights, a foot rest for rear passengers, the front cupholder with base grip bottle opener, handy umbrellas in the front doors and a bin in the driver’s side door pocket are all examples of the ‘Simply Clever’ slogan at work.
Installed options on the test car also included the Comfort Pack, a $1500 impost to add perforated leather-appointed seat trim (in beige as tested or black, which would be the preference for longevity), front seat ventilation, rear seat heaters and controls to allow the left-hand rear passenger to adjust the passenger seat in front – much fun for the child, less amusing for the parent.
Engine and transmission
The engine has been borrowed from the Golf GTI and it’s an enthusiastic unit.
The turbocharged direct-injection 2.0-litre produces 162kW at 6200rpm and 350Nm between 1500 and 4000rpm, but it does require 95RON fuel for that result.
The result is a sprint to 100km/h in seven seconds and a top speed of 245km/h, with fuel use (when not achieving the performance claims) of 6.4 litres per 100km on the combined cycle from the 66 litre tank.
At the conclusion of our Superb stint, we had a thirst of 10.6L/100km showing on the trip computer with a 34km/h average, assisted by fuel saving idle-stop and a brake energy recovery system to help the power plant reduce its thirst.
A slender readout on the scales can also take some credit for the frugal numbers – this is a large car, make no mistake, but tipping the scales at 1463kg is a credit to the engineering team.
Where it does fall a little behind the heavier Commodore and Falcon is in towing capacity, although only by 100kg (it’s a 300kg margin for the Falcon) at 2000kg braked capacity.
The only gearbox on offer for the Superb is a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, directing the drive to the front wheels, which has a little bit of delay in getting underway when conspiring with a little bit of turbo lag the sensation is exacerbated a little.
If the driver chases a response from the right pedal, the drivetrain can catch up a little too abruptly and result in a far from tardy take-off, but once accustomed to the uptake it can be minimised.
Ride and handling
In standard form there’s nothing revolutionary about the Superb’s underpinnings – a MacPherson strut front end and an independent multi-link rear – but it’s been sorted reasonably well.
The ride quality is tending toward firm but not beyond the point of comfort on most surfaces, although it’s not without complaint on some of the nastier roads we are punished with in Australia the adaptive system offered in the options list might be worth considering if cosseting ride qualities are more your preference, but as a general all-purpose chassis tune the Superb has plenty to like.
The electro-mechanical power steering is light but not overly so and like the ride does not offend, nor does it inspire pitching it hard into bends is not beyond its remit either, but you’ll need to be delicate with the right foot.
Unlike the donor machine with a GTI badge, the Skoda can spin up the inside front wheel and while there are electronic safeguards against such tyre shredding, the next level of front-end trickery would not be unwelcome if you were set on carving through corners.
Safety and servicing
One of the areas where the Superb impresses is with standard safety fare – stability and traction control (which includes VW’s electronic diff lock function), as well as the group’s multi-collision braking function, the Front Assist with City Emergency Brake auto-braking system, anti-lock brake function, a reversing camera, driver fatigue detection and tyre pressure monitoring.
The Superb also gets a hill hold function, adaptive and automatic bi-xenon headlights, nine airbags (front, front and rear side, full length curtain and a driver’s airbag), emergency brake light warning, front fog lights with cornering function, rear foglights, rain-sensing wipers, LED daytime running lights, keyless entry and start and a warning light for seatbelt use on all five seats.
It was awarded a five-star safety rating from ANCAP earlier this year.
Maintenance is a capped-price affair for the first six scheduled services, once every 12 months or 15,000km, with prices ranging from $315 to a major 48 month/60,000km service at $786 the warranty is a three-year unlimited kilometre package.
The large family car market might well be changing given the SUV invasion and the cessation of local manufacturing, but the disappearance of the Commodore et al won’t mean the only choice for a family machine will be over 1.5m tall.
The Superb carries a comparable pricetag to the big locals and has the space, road manners and features to impress buyers wanting to steer clear of the SUV cliche.
Holden Calais V6 from $41,290 plus on-road costs
The shrinking segment has signed the death warrant of the locally manufactured Holden Commodore but there’s still a lot of metal for the money the big Czech offsets its asking price by upping the features ante, particularly in the safety realm. While some will still prefer the dynamics of the Adelaide-built sedan, which are the best they’ve ever been, its days are sadly numbered.
Ford Falcon G6E from $40,110 plus on-road costs
Even closer to its final fate is the Ford Falcon and while it too has the rear-drive dynamics and big-six pull that completed so many Aussie family road trip holidays, the big Ford has been left adrift when it comes to cabin updates and features lists.
Toyota Aurion AT-X from $36,490 plus on-road costs
Toyota’s Avalon is doesn’t lay claim to the dynamics that Holden and Ford have long spruiked, but it does offer space, refinement and a solid reputation for reliability the Skoda is a more handsome beast than the big Toyota and also pips it.
Volkswagen Passat 132TSI Comfortline from $39,990 plus on-road costs
Identically priced and built using the same platform, the Skoda’s VW cousin is a seriously impressive car but lacks the space of the Superb.
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