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 also quicker than the 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 comfort
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 and Klement trim, and optional on everything else apart from the basic S version. It enables you to choose between various mode,s ranging from Comfort to Sport. In the softest Comfort setting the Superb 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 then you feel more general surface imperfections. We’d therefore say it’s not worth adding the adaptive dampers.
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 Skoda Superb Estate offers safe, secure and predictable handling. Even the two-wheel-drive versions have plenty of grip, while the four-wheel drives throw in added traction and better stability on greasy winter roads.
Although the steering offers little feel, it’s at least precise and well weighted, so it’s easy to place the car where you want in corners and keep within your lane on the motorway. The brakes are strong, with enough feel through the pedal to make the Superb easy to drive smoothly and confidently.
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’s windscreen and door mirrors, and the larger wheel options also cause some extra road noise. However, these are issues that could be levelled at any of the Superb’s chief rivals, and they don’t prevent it from being a relaxed cruiser.
The diesel engines – particularly the more powerful 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, which makes 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.
Smooth-sounding petrol engine needs to be worked hard to make progress and feels somewhat underpowered in a car of this size. It’s not as efficient as the more powerful 1.4, either.
1.4 TSI 150
The best all-round petrol engine in the range; it pulls well from low revs and remains refined even under load. Steady driving will produce decent fuel economy, while relatively low emissions make it affordable as a company car.
2.0 TSI 220
Offers plenty of power but it isn’t a cheap engine to run because of its relatively high CO2 emissions and higher than average fuel consumption.
2.0 TSI 280
This is a real wolf in sheep’s clothing. It looks completely standard from the outside, but offers the pace to rival a BMW 330i Touring. It’s very smooth and comes with four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox, but running costs are quite high.
1.6 TDI 120
This is the entry-level diesel engine in the range. It’s adequate but can struggle to pull such a big car when it’s fully laden. Worth considering for those business users who want a big car but don’t expect to carry a full payload very often.
Our pick 2.0 TDI 150
This is our favourite engine in the Superb. It’s particularly suitable for business users thanks to the low CO2 emissions. It can sound a bit gruff when you rev it hard but the combination of strong performance and low running costs compensate.
2.0 TDI 190
The more powerful diesel has a bit more punch but the margin over the less powerful version isn’t worth the slightly worse engine refinement and higher running costs.