New Skoda Superb iV vs used BMW 530e: which is best?
A new and entirely sensible plug-in Skoda Superb, or a luxurious used BMW 5 Series for similar money? Which would you choose?...
The future of driving, we’re increasingly being told, is to go electric. Using batteries to drive a car has many benefits, not least to air quality in urban environments, allow cars to trundle around without burning any fossil fuels. It makes things much quieter, too, without the cacophony of revving engines. But a battery-powered car tends to be very expensive to buy for the average motorist, so what should you do?
The answer could lie in a plug-in hybrid and in particular, our 2020 What Car? Awards price-point winner the Skoda Superb iV. No other car in its class can quite match the Superb for its mixture of space, equipment, practicality and electric driving range for the money when looking for a new car.
However, if you’re prepared to go for something second-hand, your options are opened up further. instead of having to go for a well-equipped executive car, you can have the full-fat luxury experience with a BMW 530e. The regular 5 Series was an overall car of the year winner when it arrived a few years ago, and this plug-in hybrid version has been a popular choice with company car drivers, so there are plenty of examples on the used market. But, can a year-old BMW for similar money to a factory-fresh Skoda tempt you into buying a pre-owned car? Read on to find out.
Skoda Superb 1.4 TSI iV SE Technology List Price: £31,970 Target price: £27,289 Official fuel economy: 168mpg Emissions: 35g/km CO2 Power: 215bhp 0-62mph: 7.8 sec Top speed: 139mph
BMW 530e SE Price new: £46,830 Price today: £26,000* Official fuel economy: 128.4mpg Emissions: 49g/km CO2 Power: 252bhp 0-62mph: 6.1 sec Top speed: 146mph
*Price today is based on a 2019 model with average mileage and a full-service history
New Skoda Superb iV vs used BMW 530e – interior & equipment
Long have the days passed that an entry-level BMW was as spartan as a brick outhouse; today, an SE trim 5 Series gets 18in alloy wheels, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, leather seats (heated in the front), dual-zone climate control, cruise control and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Sadly for the BMW, the Skoda goes a bit further, including as it does everything the BMW has, but adding electric lumbar support adjustment (a cost option on the BMW), adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and exterior mirrors that can also dim at night.
The interior of the Superb has soft-touch materials in all the right places and the leather used has a quality feel to it. The design of it isn’t the most imaginative, but you can’t complain too much about that for the price.
Naturally, with the 530e being a much more expensive car when new, there is an added richness about the choice of finishes used to dress the interior of this BMW. You also feel more cocooned inside the 530e; the centre console and dashboard are much higher than they are in the Superb.
In terms of the infotainment system, both have their strong points. Neither are particularly difficult to use once you’ve spent some time with them, but there are perhaps a few too many sub-menus used in BMW’s iDrive system. You do get a handy set of short-cut buttons around the rotary dial that controls the screen to makes it easy to control, though. The Superb may have the upper hand in terms of menu layout, but it's hamstrung by being a touchscreen. These can be harder to use on the move; it's tricky to stab icons accurately while you're being jostled around.
New Skoda Superb iV vs used BMW 530e – space & practicality
This is the area where the Superb really is superb: practicality. Whether you’re in the front, sitting in the back or packing the boot full of holiday luggage, the Superb is more accommodating than the 530e.
The Superb's driving position is also one step ahead; you get electrically adjustable lumbar support that enables you to fine-tune your posture at the touch of a button. All the door pockets can take a big bottle of water and are lined with felt, preventing loose items such as keys from rattling around. The glove box is even cooled by the air-conditioning system should you need somewhere to store a bar of chocolate.
Wide-opening rear doors and a low sill aid access to the back seats of the Superb, and the two outer perches have near limo-like levels of space for passengers to stretch out into. The middle seat occupant has to straddle a raised central tunnel, and has to endure the reduced headroom of a slightly higher seating position, but on the whole, the BMW is again found wanting for room in comparison.
Then there is the Superb’s party trick in that it is a hatchback, which means you get a much larger opening with which to put items into the boot through. And what an enormous luggage area it is, because it has enough capacity to embarrass most estate cars. The battery pack of the Superb does intrude somewhat, but it’s such a large area anyway, you won’t really notice. In some ways, it's better than the regular car because it reduces the noticeable lip between the boot entrance and the floor.
The 530e, being a saloon car, has a much smaller opening that prevents you from loading taller items. Furthermore, its battery pack is more intrusive, making the overall volume not much more than that of a family car.
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