2013 Skoda Superb review
* Face-lifted Skoda Superb driven * Hatch and estate versions get more kit and cleaner engines * On sale July, priced from £18,555...
The 2013 Skoda Superb has been given a thorough makeover to keep it competitive against newer rivals, such as the Mazda 6 and Hyundai i40.
Both the hatch and the estate get a new grille, head- and foglights, while LED tail-lights are now standard. There are also new colours and alloy wheels.
The 1.8 TSI gets engine stop-start, while all diesel models and the 1.4 TSi get this plus energy-recuperation braking. That's why fuel economy is up and CO2 emissions are down across the range.
Inside, the changes are restricted to a new steering wheel, gearlever and interior fabrics.
What’s the 2013 Skoda Superb like to drive?
Skoda hasn't changed any of the mechanicals, save for adding a sixth gear to the Greenline version (it previously had five gears).
Despite the extra gear, though, the Greenline still struggles to pull its lanky ratios. The engine is just about eager enough at motorway speeds, but you have to be careful with your gear selection on slower roads – let the revs drop and the engine will start to labour.
This isn't a problem in the stronger 168bhp 2.0-litre. It pulls eagerly from low revs and the automatic gearbox does a quick, smooth job of moving through the gears. This engine also transmits less vibration through the pedals than the 1.6.
Sitting between the two is the 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel. This engine is punchy enough in almost all situations, and the smooth delivery means it doesn’t feel that much slower than its more powerful sibling.
What’s more, the six-speed manual gearbox helps deliver CO2 emissions of 119g/km, so this model sits four company car tax bands below the higher-powered automatic. The latter is also £2240 more expensive.
The Superb is reasonably agile for such a big car, in both estate and hatchback forms. It has consistently weighted, accurate steering and good body control, although the ride can be a bit jittery, and the the car tends to hop sideways over expansion gaps and larger ruts when cornering forces are involved.
The Superb is at its best on the motorway, remaining effortlessly stable and keeping wind and road noise at bay.
What's the 2013 Skoda Superb like inside?
As before, the Superb has an enormous boot, and the estate version features practical touches such as luggage hooks, an LED torch, lashing points and an optional sliding floor that extends over the rear bumper to assist with loading.
The hatchback keeps its party-piece tailgate, meaning it can be opened as both a hatchback or a saloon. It's just a pity the rear seats aren't as clever as the tailgate – you have to flip up the bases before the backs will lie flat, and even then there's a step into the extended load area.
In fact, some smaller estates are actually more practical; the new Honda Civic Tourer, for instance, has a completely flat load bay, with a maximum capacity just nine litres less than the Superb’s.
The Superb is no longer streets ahead of other Skodas on space, either. The latest Octavia hatch has just five litres less luggage space, for example, even if its rear legroom is still some way behind.
The Superb's dash is also made to look less impressive by the quality of the new Octavia's. That said, it's well ordered and the controls are big and clearly labelled.
Cabin space is good, with masses of head- and legroom in both rows. Most people should be able to find a comfortable driving position, too, thanks to the wide range of adjustment in both the seat and steering wheel.
The surfaces you touch most in the Superb are covered in soft-touch plastics, and build quality still feels reassuringly solid.
The only notable change is the redesigned standard leather-wheel. It looks and feels classy, and its volume and menu roller controls are now recessed, meaning you're less likely to accidentally catch them when turning.
Should I buy one?
The Superb's starting price has risen by £520, but it now comes with a leather multi-function steering wheel and cruise control as standard, which used to cost extra.
Private buyers are still best off with the entry-level 1.4 TSI S, which is good value at £18,555 – especially when you factor in that extra kit and improved fuel economy.
However, given that Skoda believes fleet buyers will account for 60% of all sales, the Superb's combination of big space and low running costs isn't so convincing.
For example, although the Superb Greenline III S now emits just 109g/km, it costs just £70 less than the smoother Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI SE. That car also gets more kit, more power, similar luggage space and it sits in the same 16% company tax bracket.
Ford's newly trimmed Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Graphite comes with less kit and emits slightly more CO2 – putting in the 18% company car tax bracket – but still offers lots of space, more power, better handling and costs nearly £1900 less.
Strangely, then, while the Superb is better than ever before, it actually makes less sense now than when it first went on sale – especially for company car drivers.
By Rory White and Ed Callow
What Car? says...
Skoda Superb 1.6 TDI Greenline III
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £20,070
Torque 184lb ft
0-60mph 12.3 seconds
Top speed 121mph
Fuel economy 67.3mpg
Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI 170 DSG
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £24,365
Torque 258lb ft
0-60mph 8.7 seconds
Top speed 137mph
Fuel economy 53.3mpg
Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI 140
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £20,305
Torque 236lb ft
0-60mph 10.0 seconds
Top speed 131mph
Fuel economy 61.4mpg
Skoda Superb 1.4 TSI
Engine size 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Price from £18,555
Torque 148lb ft
0-60mph 10.6 seconds
Top speed 126mph
Fuel economy 47.9mpg