August part 1

* Skoda Superb tested * Year-long review * Tested by Andrew Golby...

August part 1

Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI 140 Elegance DSG
List price 23,975
Target Price 22,546
Run by Andrew Golby, publishing director
Why its on test Can the Superb compete against the established prestige players and deliver luxury family motoring on a budget?

Don't worry, we're not getting ideas above our station at What Car?, but a year with our Skoda Superb has been, well, just grand.

Thats not only grand as in just fine, but also grand as in good grief its roomy. It has made us reassess quite what a luxury car is, because the big Skoda even has a brolly tucked away in the nearside passenger door, la Rolls-Royce. Skoda really has hit the big time.

Thats why we wanted a Superb, big time. Original keeper Mel Nichols chose a 2.0 TDI 140 Elegance DSG in 400 Brilliant Silver metallic paint. The only other option he added was the 345 Park Assist: this includes front and rear parking sensors, and also gives the car the ability to steer itself into parking spaces. It never ceased to amaze everyone who saw it.

Mel picked up the car from Allams Skoda in Epsom, Surrey (08445 020324), and immediately began to enjoy the cars lengthy standard equipment list. It included a touch-screen satellite-navigation system, bi-xenon headlights, cruise control, electrically adjustable heated leather seats and an air-conditioned glovebox.

Change of owner
All that was mind-boggling enough, but then I took over ownership and was equally amazed by just how much rear-seat space is available. Every adult who travelled in the back of the Superb was astounded by its legroom (9cm more than that in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class).

Taking on the Superb meant I was landed with chauffeur duties on a regular basis; any journey with four adults always ended up with my car being the default choice usually with me doing the driving. Thats why I had a very sober trip to the rugby at Twickenham, and also ended up ferrying some of my wifes friends around regularly. Even when my sons (aged four and eight) were in residence, they never came close to kicking the backs of the front seats, which
did wonders for my nerves, as well as the interior.

The kids loved the car, too, because for once, the best seats really were in the back. The outside temperature display in the rear meant that we got regular weather reports and the boys also found the centre armrest a good place for stashing small toys, as well as for placing water bottles without spillages. The only issue was raised by younger son William, who has an aversion to the sun streaming in, but the Skoda was perfect because it had a rear blind.

There are times when you simply want a car to get you home effortlessly. Thats when the Superb was fantastic. I can remember several night drives at the end of a long day where I felt genuinely relieved not to be in something else. Journeys like this are an important measure of a car, and the Superb was great.

It was a refined cruiser, with little wind-, engine- and road noise, and it rode comfortably despite the fact it was on large 18-inch wheels and fairly low-profile tyres. Importantly, the car still felt as good as new at the end of our 18,000-mile test. In fact, apart from a loose drivers door hinge, the Superb behaved faultlessly.

It was especially faultless over Christmas and through the cold snap in the early part of the year. The semi-auto DSG box allows plenty of control at low speeds in difficult conditions, which meant the Superb was one of the first two-wheel-drive cars to get out of our snow-packed road. In fact, it felt surprisingly stable and secure on the snow, much more so than my wifes Volvo V70.

When I was feeling enthusiastic and the weather was a bit better, I was glad to have the DSG box because it was great to slip it into manual mode, then flick up and down the box as my speed and enjoyment required.