Skoda Superb hatchback performance
The entry-level 118bhp 1.6 diesel engines feels a little lacklustre when the car is heavily laden. The 148bhp petrol engine, on the other hand, is gutsy enough to cope with a car this size, although you do need to rev it hard to make decent progress.
The 148bhp diesel isn’t quite as quick as the petrol but, with more torque lower down in the rev range, it offers better real-world pace; it’s also quicker than an equivalent Ford Mondeo. In fact, it’s so good that the higher-powered and more expensive 187bhp diesel isn’t worth the extra.
For a real turn of speed, there’s the 2.0-litre petrol engine with 217bhp or a super-quick version with 276bhp and four-wheel drive.
Skoda Superb hatchback ride
On standard suspension and smaller wheels, the Superb rides well, even when compared with the smooth-riding Mondeo. Around town, it picks up on patchy surfaces but soaks up large speed bumps with ease, and it settles well on a motorway cruise. Because it’s so soft, the only problem is some unwanted body float along undulating roads.
Adaptive suspension is standard on the top-of-the-range Laurin & Klement trim and optional on everything else apart from entry-level S. The system enables you to choose between modes, 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 mode tightens everything up, but you feel more general surface imperfections. 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 option you choose, it’s best to avoid the larger 19in alloy wheels. These tend to make the ride more fidgety and prone to thumping over large intrusions. This is even more pronounced on four-wheel-drive versions.
Skoda Superb hatchback handling
The Superb offers safe, secure and predictable handling, whichever version you go for. The two-wheel-drive cars have plenty of grip, while four-wheel drive, which is available with the 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, throws 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 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, the car can feel a little dull. If you prefer a more exciting drive, you’ll find the Mondeo a more engaging proposition, , even compared with Sportline models, while the premium competition, such as the Audi A3 Saloon, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE, offer the most thrills for keen drivers.
Skoda Superb hatchback refinement
At speed, you get a flutter of wind noise from around the Superb’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 rattly from cold and slightly gruff under hard acceleration, but settle to a distant hum at cruising speeds. You also feel some vibration through the controls, particularly the pedals. All the petrol engines are smooth and refined.
The manual versions have a slick gearchange and a positive clutch action, making them easy to drive smoothly around town. On the other hand, the dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which is offered with all engines bar the 1.4 TSI 125 petrol, can be jerky in stop-start traffic. Once on the open road, it changes up and down through its ratios seamlessly, though.