By EWAN KENNEDY
C. 2014 Skoda Superb wagon
Skoda Superb is a large family car; longer than the Australian family sixes, indeed more in line with the Holden Caprice and Ford LTD than the standard Commodores and Falcons. However, the Czech car is not as wide as the Aussie cars.
The Superb has limousine-size rear legroom and appeals to families consisting of Mum, Dad and a couple of hulking teenage sons. Three adults in the rear work without too much shoulder rubbing, but two makes more sense.
While the Superb would work beautifully as a limousine, it’s a brave driver that turns up at a client’s place with something other than a German prestige marque.
The Superb sedan / hatchback (see below) arrived in Australia in May 2009, May 2010 saw the launch of the station wagon. The Superb has never been as big a seller as its should – a statement that can be applied to the entire Skoda range in this country.
Push one button at the rear of a Skoda Superb and a conventional bootlid opens. Close the bootlid and push a different button and a large rear hatch opens. Great fun and guaranteed to bemuse your neighbours!
There are some very clever touches; the rear passenger doors have a compartment for a folding umbrella, thus doing away with the dangerous practice of carrying an umbrella on the rear parcel shelf. There’s a detachable torch housed in the tailgate of the wagon. It not only shines into the boot, but also illuminates the area outside the back of the vehicle. The torch is battery powered and is automatically recharged when it’s in it cradle.
Ride and handling show typical European characteristics, with the Superb having the solid feel of all vehicles designed by the Volkswagen group.
Some may find the ride is slightly too firm, particularly on roads that should be in better conditions. But keen drivers will appreciate the firmer rid and will like the relatively neutral feel of the chassis. It doesn’t really show any signs of understeer until you’re going pretty hard into corners.
The most common powertrain in the Superb is the Volkswagen 2.0-litre TDI turbo-diesel engine linked to a DSG double-clutch gearbox. (See note in the What to Look For section of this report for emission cheating information.)
The DSG has the usual failing of being lumpy and awkward at low speeds on light accelerator pressure.
Other engine options are a four-cylinder 1.8-litre petrol and a 3.6 litre V6 in the 4×4 model. The six-cylinder is a delight to sit behind, smooth and torquey, but not many sold so it’s hard to find on the used-car scene.
There aren’t a lot of Skoda dealers in Australia and those that do exist are chiefly in the major metro areas. Then again most of the Superb’s out of sight parts are shared with Volkswagen and Audi vehicles so getting spares, servicing and repairs shouldn’t be a hassle if you shop around.
These are relatively complex vehicles and we don’t feel the unskilled owner should do anything other than the most basic work on the Superb. Should you wish to tackle it, it makes sense to get hold of a workshop manual. As always, leave anything related to safety to the experts.
Insurance charges for this big Skoda vary more than normal from company to company, probably because the numbers are too small to have built up a steady body repair history. Shop around, but make sure you do accurate apples-with-apples comparisons.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Skoda has been caught up in the dirty diesel Volkswagen Group engine scandal. Cars with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel may be defective. Get onto www.skoda.com.au/dieselinfo and enter the VIN, it’s visible from the outside of the windscreen on the passenger side.
The DSG gearbox has had more than its fair share of problems. During your test drive check that it doesn’t jump from gear to gear unnecessarily, or even slip into neutral for no reason. Repairs can be expensive, some Superbs may have had the DSG replaced altogether, check the service books.
While on the subject of service books, it makes sense to buy a Superb with that book rubber stamped by an official dealer.
Look for signs of previous body repairs. The easiest to spot are ripples in the panels and tiny specs of paint on non-painted surfaces. If in doubt either skip the car or have a profession after-smash repair, preferably in a workshop.
Look for excessive wear and tear in the rear seat area and the luggage compartment. The sheer usability of these big Skodas mean they are often worked hard as family transport.
CAR BUYING TIP
When considering a relatively rare used vehicle it’s smart to do homework in your local area on the availability of spare parts and servicing.