Skoda Superb estate performance
Both the 123bhp 1.4-litre petrol and 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel engines feel a little lacklustre when the car is heavily laden, and the enty-level petrol is also the only engine in the range that can’t be had with an automatic gearbox.
The 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol, on the other hand, is gutsy enough to cope with a car this size. Meanwhile, the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel is better still, because you don't have to work it so hard to make brisk progress; it’s quicker than an equivalent Ford Mondeo and we’d say it’s so good that it’s not worth paying the extra for the really gutsy-feeling but more expensive 187bhp diesel.
Completing the range are 217bhp and 276bhp 2.0-litre petrols, both of which are only available with the automatic gearbox. We haven’t tried the 217bhp car yet, but the higher-powered engine delivers fantastically quick pace and comes with four-wheel drive as standard.
Skoda Superb estate ride
On standard suspension and small wheels, the Superb Estate is very comfortable, even when compared with the smooth-riding Ford Mondeo Estate. Around town, it deals admirably with patchy surfaces and large speed bumps, and it settles well on a motorway cruise. The only problem is some unwanted body float over undulating roads.
Adaptive suspension is standard on the top-of-the-range Laurin & Klement trim, and optional on everything else apart from the entry-level S version. It enables you to choose between various modes, ranging from Comfort to Sport. In the softest Comfort setting, the Superb Estate wafts along, soaking up all but the sharpest of bumps but, as with the standard set-up, the trade-off is a fair amount of vertical movement over crests. Selecting Sport tightens everything up, but you feel more general surface imperfections. We’d therefore say it’s not worth adding the adaptive dampers. Sportline models, meanwhile, get a ‘sport chassis’ that has stiffer suspension than the standard models. The result is a slightly firmer ride that, while not uncomfortable, doesn’t cope with road imperfections in quite the same composed manner as the other suspension options.
Whichever suspension set-up you choose, it’s best to avoid the 19in wheels. These make the ride more fidgety and prone to thumping over large intrusions. This is especially pronounced on the four-wheel-drive versions.
Skoda Superb estate handling
The Superb Estate offers safe, secure and predictable handling. Even the two-wheel-drive versions have plenty of grip, while the four-wheel-drive cars throw in added traction and better stability on greasy winter roads.
Although the steering offers little genuine feedback, it is at least precise and well weighted, making it easy to place the Superb Estate where you want it in corners and keep within your lane on the motorway. Opt for a Sportline Plus model and you’ll get ‘progressive dynamic steering’, which is designed to make the car more stable at high speeds and more manoeuvrable at low speeds. The system achieves this by increasing the sensitivity of steering inputs at low speeds, while decreasing them at high speeds; in truth, you’ll hardly notice the difference in everyday driving. The brakes on all models are strong, with enough feel through the pedal to make the Superb easy to drive smoothly and with confidence.
That said, it all feels a little dull; if you prefer a more exciting drive, you’ll probably find the Ford Mondeo more to your taste.
Skoda Superb estate refinement
At speed, you get a flutter of wind noise from around the Superb Estate’s windscreen and mirrors; larger wheels also cause some road noise, accompanied by tyre slap over motorway expansion joints. There’s some noise from the suspension as well, especially in Sportline models. However, these issues could be levelled at any of the Superb’s chief rivals and they don’t prevent the car from being a relaxed cruiser.
The diesel engines – particularly the 187bhp version – are noisy from cold and slightly gruff under hard acceleration, but settle into a distant hum at cruising speeds. All the petrol engines are smooth and quiet.
The manual gearbox has a slick shift and a positive clutch action, making it easy to drive smoothly around town. The dual-clutch automatic gearbox, on the other hand, can be jerky in stop-start traffic, but once on the open road it changes up and down through its ratios seamlessly.