Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
If you need a diesel engine because you're a high-mileage driver, the entry-level 118bhp 1.6 TDI 120 is adequate rather than great, but the 2.0 TDI 150 is much better. It pulls with far more vigour, which is useful when building speed on the motorway, and will be appreciated if you're towing a caravan. There’s also a more powerful 187bhp TDI 190 model that makes even lighter work of those duties, but we don’t think it’s worth the extra expense.
In fact, it's the 1.5-litre TSI 150 petrol that's our the pick of the range. With 148bhp it has enough poke to match the 2.0 TDI 150 from 0-62mph (for the record, both take 9.0sec ) and while you have to work it harder up hills than the diesel, it has the requisite oomph for most people's requirements. If you think you need something more sprightly there’s also the 2.0 TSI 190 with 187bhp, or for those who want a real turn of speed, the seriously potent 268bhp 2.0 TSI 272, which can hit 62mph from rest in just 5.6sec That engine comes with four-wheel drive, so it has both the power and traction to embarrass hot hatchbacks away from the lights.
A plug-in hybrid is also available and is highly recommendable. This version is badged 1.4 TSI iV 218 and uses an 85kW electric motor paired with a 1.4-litre petrol engine. With a total power output of 215bhp, it's one of the quicker versions of the Superb (0-62mph takes 7.7sec), and it also has an official electric-only range of 35 miles.
Suspension and ride comfort
With the standard suspension and smaller wheels fitted, the Superb is relatively comfortable, even when compared with the supple Ford Mondeo. It soaks up large speed bumps and expansion joints with ease and settles down nicely on a motorway cruise. Because it's set up to be quite soft, the Superb is prone to feeling floaty on undulating country roads, and it can thud over really nasty potholes.
Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) is Skoda's term for adaptive suspension, and it's optional on all models from SE (and standard on range-topping Laurin & Klement models). It offers you Normal, Sport and Comfort modes, the latter being the softest. For an idea of what the Superb is like in this mode, imagine laying on a motorised waterbed and bobbing gently up and down as a series up bumps pass beneath you. Selecting Normal and Sport modes tightens everything up, but leaves passengers exposed to road surface imperfections.
Whichever setup you choose, it’s best to avoid the larger 19in alloy wheels that come as standard on Sportline Plus models. These make the ride more fidgety and prone to thumping over large intrusions and is even more pronounced on four-wheel-drive versions.
The Superb offers safe, secure and predictable handling, but it's geared more for comfort than for careering around corners. The front-wheel drive versions have plenty of grip, while four-wheel drive, which is available with the 2.0 TDI 190 and mandatory with the 2.0 TSI 272, provides added traction and better stability on greasy winter roads.
The steering is quite light, especially at low speeds, which helps when manoeuvring in town. It gets a little heavier as you gain speed but offers little of the feedback and connection to the road that you'll experience in sportier executive offerings. Sportline Plus trim has ‘progressive dynamic steering’; this varies the weight according to how much steering lock you apply and is the closest the Superb gets to feeling sporty.
The Volkswagen Passat is a little more inspiring on a twisty road, but all-in-all, enthusiastic drivers will much prefer the premium competition, such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE, which are all more thrilling to drive.
Noise and vibration
At speed, you’ll hear a flutter of wind noise from around the Superb’s windscreen and door mirrors. The larger wheels and tyres also kick up extra road noise, including noticeable tyre slap over motorway expansion joints. There’s some noise from the suspension as well, but these quibbles could be levelled at any of the Superb’s chief price rivals (the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia) and don’t prevent the car from being a relaxed cruiser.
The diesel engines produce a bit of vibration through the pedals and steering wheel. They're also slightly gruff under hard acceleration but settle to a distant hum at cruising speeds. By comparison, all the petrol engines are pretty smooth and quiet – including the plug-in PHEV model, which also has the ability to run near-silently on electricity alone.
The manual gearbox has a slick gearchange and a positive clutch action, making it easy to drive smoothly around town. On the other hand, the dual-clutch automatic gearbox (offered with all engines) can be jerky in stop-start traffic and when edging into a parking space.
The i40 is showing its age; it’s neither great to drive nor lu...
Classy, comfortable, roomy and a sound alternative to a BMW 3...
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport offers competitive pricing a...
The Mazda 3 Saloon combines performance with low running costs...