Skoda Superb Estate iV plug-in hybrid long-term test
The Skoda Superb Estate iV plug-in hybrid promises a great blend of practicality and efficiency. But does this translate to the real world? At the end of its time with us, we have the answer...
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 13,100 List price £36,100 Target Price £33,355 Price as tested £37,370 Test economy 50.9mpg Official economy 188.3mpg Running costs Fuel (£937), minor service (£199) Dealer trade-in value now £25,740 Dealer price now £29,316 Private price now £26,059
6 January – An amicable separation
It’s no secret that the Skoda Superb Estate is a What Car? favourite; a glimpse at our full review – which ends with the line “it's a spankingly good all-round estate car”– is all the evidence you need. So, I was right to be confident that I’d made the right choice when I signed on the dotted line for my SE L iV plug-in hybrid – a car that sets out to blend the Superb Estate’s renown practicality with the fuel-efficiency that comes with cutting-edge hybrid technology.
And for, the most part, it kept that promise. From the very outset I knew that its commodious rear end would be just the job for the daily routine of a What Car? photographer; it easily swallows the heavy, bulky bags of photographic equipment I lug from shoot to shoot, and there’s the flexibility to add even more without any hassle whatsoever. Indeed, when it fell to me to oversee the relocation of our photography studio, I had no need to hire a moving van; once the seats were down, even the most inconveniently shaped kit slid in with very little effort. As a beast of burden, the Superb takes the strain with consummate ease.
As for mechanical reliability, I have no gripes whatsoever. While many cars get to settle into a predictable 9-5 life, a photographer’s steed has no such luxury; it might be called to make a two-hundred mile journey at the drop of a hat one day, or many short, local trips on the next, and the Superb has never complained.
There have, however, been issues with the electronic side of things; soon into my stewardship the infotainment system went through a phase of disobedience, refusing to switch on at all for certain journeys and leaving me without navigation. There was another, unseen gremlin in the works, too; a fault with the SOS system was found during the Superb’s first service, requiring re-booking for a replacement part to be fitted. I doubt I’d have been aware of the fault had Skoda’s workshop staff not noticed it, though. That service, at £199 was the only upkeep it required – aside from £937 worth of petrol.
So, would I order a Skoda Superb Estate SE L 1.4 iV plug-in-hybrid again? Well, in terms of spec, I reckon I got things almost bang on. Software glitches aside, the upgraded infotainment that SE L spec brings over SE, adding an 8.0in touchscreen, sat nav and integrated Wi-Fi, is indispensable if you spend a lot of time on the road. The active LED headlights make light work of dark roads, too.
I’ve no regrets over the options I added, either, particularly the heated steering wheel (£245) for the luxury it brings on wintry days. The Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display (£475) contributed to my safety, too, by providing navigation pointers in easy view without having to turn my head towards the infotainment system. I would have loved to have made more use of the integrated tow bar (£820), but a hectic schedule and Covid-19 restrictions put paid to using it with my bike-carrier.
For a repeat purchase, the only thing I’d change is the engine – but, as with the line that’s so feared at the end of a first date, “it’s not you, it’s me.” The Superb iV’s plug-in hybrid system has more than proven its ability to return incredible economy; the peak I saw was 79.9mpg – astonishing for such a responsive and rapid car. On the other hand, at one point my economy dropped to 43.4mpg – only fractionally better than the 42.8mpg official figure given for the non-hybrid 1.5 TSI petrol. This all comes down to the unpredictable journey lengths I subject the car to.
On days when all my activity is local I’ve managed the lot on electric power alone. Frequently, though, electric running has been limited to the bit between my house and the motorway, and once the iV’s (respectable) official 35-mile electric range is used up, I was back to petrol power in a car made heavier by its batteries. But if, for you, long journeys are the exception and not the rule, and you need an incredibly spacious, comfy, quick and well-equipped family car, the Superb Estate iV plug-in hybrid gets a big thumbs up from me.