Skoda Superb Estate iV plug-in hybrid long-term test review: report 1

The Skoda Superb Estate iV plug-in hybrid promises a great blend of practicality and efficiency. But does this translate to the real world? We're finding out...

Skoda Superb Estate 2020 long term front cornering

The car Skoda Superb Estate SE L 1.4 TSI iV Run by John Bradshaw, senior photographer

Why it’s here To find out if a plug-in hybrid can be the answer when journey lengths are unpredictable, and to put the Superb Estate’s legendary practicality to the test. 

Needs to have a big, versatile boot for use as a moving photographic platform, prove comfortable and economical on a mixture of journeys.

Mileage 1780 List price £36,100 Target Price £33,355 Price as tested £37,370 Test economy 56.6mpg Official economy 188.3mpg

Options fitted integrated tow bar (£820), Brilliant Silver metallic paint (£595), Virtual Cockpit display (£475), rear-view camera (£385), heated steering wheel (£245)

7 September – First impressions

Being a professional photographer isn’t always easy, and nor is life for the car that I rely on every day to get the job done. It needs to put up with non-stop use without complaining, it must eagerly swallow crates of photographic equipment, and – vitally – it must effortlessly take me to locations far and wide without causing me to dread the journey home.

On paper, then, the Skoda Superb Estate seemed eminently qualified for the role. It’s one of our favourite estate cars; our road test team raves about its comfort, quality and practicality, so I was eager to put their expert findings to the test for myself. Plus, I thought, by opting for plug-in hybrid 1.4 TSI iV power, the handy fuel savings promised would be good news both for the environment and my own wallet.

Skoda Superb Estate 2020 long term behind the wheel

I opted for SE L specification – our favourite for value and standard equipment – but also added a few choice extras. An integrated tow bar (£820) should future-proof it for the practical life that lies ahead of it, the Virtual Cockpit display (£475) to keep me amply informed behind the wheel, a rear-view camera (£385) to help me judge the Superb’s considerable length when backing up, and a heated steering wheel (£245) for a bit of indulgence as winter approaches.

On top of that, metallic paint (£595) is a must for resale values, and this Brilliant Silver finish helps to emphasise the Superb Estate’s form; some of its more subtle features can be rather smothered by the darker colours.  

First impressions? Well, I certainly can’t fault it for comfort. After my previous Peugeot 508 SW, the Superb’s seats initially felt rather firm, but a long run to Swansea had me convinced that Skoda’s interior design team knows its stuff. After the Peugeot’s tiny dinner plate-sized affair, the Superb’s steering wheel seems huge, too, but feels good in use and offers a clear view of the ample information in front of me.

Skoda Superb Estate 2020 left panning

Early fears that a smallish 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine might struggle to heave such a big car around proved unfounded, too. That little engine produces 154bhp, and when it works in concert with the iV plug-in hybrid system’s 113bhp electric motor, there’s 215bhp at my disposal. Put simply, there’s plenty of poke, and not once has this sprawling estate seemed underpowered.

Officially, it should manage 35 miles on electricity alone, but I’ve not yet put that to the test. I have been impressed with its efficiency, though. Where possible, I’ve kept the hybrid battery charged between trips, and by doing so have been rewarded with glimpses of 78mpg fuel economy. Okay, that’s some way short of what’s officially possible – 148.7 to 188.3mpg is quoted – so my everyday route must differ markedly from those test conditions, but it’s still a mighty impressive figure for a relatively heavy car.

Skoda Superb Estate 2020 long term front seats with John

And while only short periods of my journeys to and fro of Swansea made full advantage of the electric side of things, the fuel consumption still hovered around 50mpg, and my current average is 56.6. That would be a pretty impressive figure for a small diesel hatchback, let alone a big beast of burden like the Superb.

Quibbles? Well, so far, only one issue has blotted the Superb’s copybook: the infotainment system. It seems to take an age to boot up, displaying its very polite welcome screen for what seems like an eternity, and, on one occasion, failing to start up at all. However, had such a failure occurred in the 508 SW, I’d have been left without any control over its air conditioning. Not so in the Superb, thanks to it having standalone controls for the climate control.

I’m putting its recalcitrance down to a gremlin that might disappear with a software update, but the system has one issue that I fear I’m stuck with – it doesn’t recognise full UK postcodes. Given that other systems have managed this for years, I’m surprised Skoda’s can’t. It seems to be a rare case where Skoda’s “simply clever” strapline doesn’t apply.

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