Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The entry-level, 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine is just about adequate with a couple of people aboard, but it feels rather weak if you load the car up much further. It’s worth upgrading to the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, which pulls strongly from well below 2000rpm and has more than adequate performance to accelerate the Superb to motorway speeds in a hurry. There’s also a more powerful 187bhp version that feels more at home when taking on longer motorway journeys, but we don’t think it’s worth the extra expense.
There are also three engines to choose from if you’re after petrol power. The 1.5-litre TSI produces 148bhp, but feels a little lacklustre after the low-down pulling power of the diesel. There’s also a 2.0-litre with 187bhp, but those who want a real turn of speed will prefer the seriously potent 268bhp engine. As it comes with four-wheel drive only, it has enough traction to utilise all that power should you want to embarrass any but the hottest of hatchbacks.
Suspension and ride comfort
On standard suspension and smaller wheels, the Superb is relatively comfortable, even when compared with the supple Ford Mondeo. Around town, it makes you aware of patchy surfaces and you’ll feel vibrations over coarser roads, but it soaks up large speed bumps and expansion joints with ease and settles down on a motorway cruise. The Superb is prone to feeling rather floaty on undulating roads, though, due to its suspension allowing quite a lot of vertical movement over crests.
Optional on all models from SE (and standard on Range-topping Laurin & Klement models) is Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), which incorporates adaptive suspension with Normal, Sport and Comfort modes. Comfort mode is the softest and allows the Superb to waft along, soaking up all but the sharpest of bumps. Unfortunately, it doesn’t resolve the floatiness over crests that the standard suspension suffers, though. Selecting Sport mode 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 tend to make the ride more fidgety and prone to thumping over large intrusions. This is even more pronounced on four-wheel-drive versions.
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 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine and mandatory with the 268bhp 2.0-litre petrol, provides added traction and better stability on greasy winter roads.
The steering is rather light, especially at low speeds, and this helps when manoeuvering in town. But, although it does get heavier when you gain speed, it offers little genuine feedback and can make the car feel quite twitchy on the motorway. This weight difference is highlighted in Sportline Plus, which has ‘progressive dynamic steering’. This varies the weight according how much steering lock you apply, helping to make the car more stable at speed.
All that taken into account, though, an enthusiastic driver will find the Superb a little dull. If you prefer a more exciting drive you’ll find the Mondeo a more engaging proposition, even compared with Sportline Plus models. Meanwhile the premium competition, such as the Audi A3 Saloon, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE, offer more thrills for keen drivers.
Noise and vibration
At speed, you’ll hear a flutter of wind noise from around the Superb’s windscreen and mirrors. The largest wheels 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 rivals and 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. The vibration you can feel through the steering wheel and pedals can get quite tiresome on long journeys, too. By comparison, all the petrol engines are smooth and quiet.
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. There’s also a noticeable lag before the gearbox kicks down a gear when you want a burst of pace. This can hinder progress when pulling out at roundabouts or making quick motorway overtakes.