► Fourth-generation Skoda Superb: the debrief
► Physical controls, reinvented interior, 62-mile PHEV
► Plus, we drive a prototype model
The wraps have come off the fourth-generation Skoda Superb, and as the teaser pictures promised, it may be wearing a conservative set of clothes, but this is an all-new car with a massively updated interior, now underpinned by VWG’s MQB Evo platform and built alongside the new Passat.
Unike its German sister car, the Superb is available as a hatchback as well as estate, and the sleek new flagship comes with a range of petrols and diesel engines as well as a plug-in hybrid.
It has a lot to live up to as the outgoing model is a favourite of long-distance drivers, chauffeurs, antique dealers and car journalists everywhere – in fact anyone who appreciates its squidgy ride, voluminous cabin and utter lack of pretentiousness. The early signs are good, though. We’ve already driven the newcomer in Superb Estate form (see below), and it’s a distinct improvement.
Give us the low-down
The Superb Mk4 might look same-again, but it’s much sleeker and more ‘premium’ in the metal. Both models get second-generation LED Matrix beam headlights, which flank the sharper-looking front end and octagonal Skoda grille. Aerodynamics have taken a step forward with an impressive Cd of 0.23 for the hatch and 0.25 for the estate – a reduction of 10-15%.
Moderate increases in length and height have further improved the overall dimensions in the interior. Boot capacity has grown by 20 litres to 645 litres for the hatch and by 30 litres to 690 litres for the estate. This means it remains at the head of the class, for luggage space, while rear legroom remains as impressive as ever.
The Skoda and the VW were developed in parallel, so there may have been concern in some quarters that the Superb was going load-lugger only as well – although not if you’ve read our earlier reports on the Mk4, which made the hatchback’s presence clear.
What’s it like inside?
Skoda, it seems, has listened to the cacophony of grumbles that touch sensitive buttons and the removal of all physical controls has resulted in across models from all brands. VW Group has been hit hard by this criticism, particularly with models like the Mk8 Golf and ID.3, and has had to backtrack on their rollout. Skoda, it seems, has taken a more considered approach with the new Superb and the upcoming new Kodiaq.
That doesn’t mean there still isn’t a massive screen in the new generation, however. In fact, the latest Superb features a 12.9-inch central touchscreen as standard, likely running a new-generation infotainment system set to be rolled out across many brands within the VW Group.
Beneath that, though, is a set of three physical dials and a couple of additional physical buttons. Skoda says the dials in the middle can be customised to allow quick access to the controls you use most using small screens inside them. The good news is that the quality seems. tohave taken a distinct step forward, with some very tactile materials used, as well as tasteful use of colour.
Elsewhere, Skoda says it’s used olive tanning in its latest leathers, which is more environmentally friendly than regular tanning – and a technique Bentley also uses with its Bentayga EWB Mulliner model. And, in order to provide more space in the centre console, Skoda has moved the shifter onto the steering column, much like VW’s ID models.
The interior trim packages follows a similar structure to the Enyaq, offering seven ‘Design Selections’ The Studio Design Selection with black and grey fabrics is included with the basic Essence trim level. In addition, you can choose the Loft, Lounge, Suite Black, Suite Cognac, L&K Black and L&K Suite Cognac. It remains to be seen how many of these will make it to the UK.
What else should I know?
Skoda has fiddled with the Superb’s dimensions. Now, we’re not convinced that the Superb needed to get any larger – the current car is already an absolute unit – but the next model will be 43mm longer and 12mm taller than before.
Skoda says the changes liberate an extra 11mm of headroom in the front, 6mm of headroom in the rear and 20 litres of boot space, taking the hatchback’s seats-up capacity to a whopping 645 litres. However, legroom is comparable to the current car, as the Superb Mk4’s wheelbase remains unchanged.
Every version of the Superb Mk4 comes as standard with the VW Group’s latest suite of safety features – including an autonomous emergency braking system that can now detect cyclists. There’s also a new Crossroad Assist function that uses radar sensors in the bumper to monitor traffic at blind junctions and issue you a warning if you’re about to drive yourself into an accident.
Skoda has also increased the number of airbags in the Superb. The new car will be available with up to 10. As standard, you’ll get front, side and head airbags, a driver’s knee airbag and a central airbag to prevent the front passenger from headbutting each other in the event of a side impact. Skoda will also offer two side airbags for the rear seats as an optional extra.
What engines are available?
Surprisingly, given current trends in the new car market, Skoda hasn’t gone all-in on electrification. The next Superb will be sold with both plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid powertrains for the first time, but the company still plans to offer the car with two diesel engines and a pair of high-powered petrols. That’s good news considering the Superb is designed for covering ground conveniently.
The range will open with an all-new 1.5-litre four-cylinder mild hybrid petrol unit – and the petrol engine is from the Volkswagen Group’s latest EA211 Evo 2 family of engines which run on the fuel-efficient Miller cycle (like Toyota’s petrol engines) and feature cylinder deactivation technology. Like the current Superb’s 1.5-litre petrol engine, it’ll have an output of 148bhp.
We found the new Superb PHEV rather interesting, too. Skoda has more than doubled the capacity of its battery pack, increasing it from 12.7 to 25.7kWh. The company says that will allow the car to cover up to 62 miles on electric power alone. It’ll even be compatible with 50kW DC rapid charging, which will trim charge times and allow owners to make the most of its electric range.
The petrol engine backing up the electric motor is the same basic unit used in the mild hybrid Superb, although it’s mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox rather than a seven-speed unit. The system will have a maximum combined output of 201bhp, which is the same as the current Superb PHEV.
Skoda hasn’t upset the apple cart with the Superb’s non-electrically assisted petrol and diesel engines. They appear to be retuned versions of the same range of 2.0-litre four-cylinder units that power the current car.
The petrol engines have outputs of 201bhp and 261bhp, while the diesel produce 148bhp and 187bhp. All four engines send drive through a seven-speed automatic gearbox as standard, while the most powerful options come with four-wheel drive as standard.
What’s it like to drive?
Although this was a static reveal, we’ve already driven it in prototype form. Our early run in the ppetrol and diesel models gave us an early taste of the new generation car. As you’d expect from the spec sheet, there’s little in the way of surprises in how it goes and what it sounds like. It’s a relaxed and confident performer, and although it’s not the last word in responsiveness, we couldn’t help admire how finished this prototype felt – but then, the drivetrain’s not really changed that much over the old one.
The suspension set-up’s moved on, though. The outgoing car’s body control is acceptable once you stick it in Sport, but a little flabby otherwise. This one, now underpinned by the latest version of adaptive suspension (now called Dynamic Chassis Control Pro) is a great deal more responsive. Yes, the ride is stiffer than before, but it’s well damped and never could be described as uncomfortable. In bends, it turns in with more eagerness, and it tracks corners accurately. It’s no 3-Series, but it’s certainly an improvement.
Definitely noteworthy are the fabulous front seats. They’re supportive and the driving position is spot on, and we love the headrests that adjust fore and aft as well as up and down. There’s as much space as the outgoing Superb up front, but thanks to that column-mounted transmission selector, there’s loads of space for your phones and other nick-nacks. There’s excellent space in the rear, as you’d expect, and there’s a fold-down centre armrest with integrated tablet holder. Nice.
When does it on sale, and how much?
More than the current car. Skoda hasn’t confirmed prices and specs yet, but, the existing Superb hatchback has a starting price of around £32,605, and we expect the Mk4 model, with its larger dimensions, fancy new hybrid powertrains and lashings of fresh technology, will start from around £34,000.
Prices for the estate will likely start from roughly £35,000 and UK sales are expected for all models is expected to commence in towards the end of Q2 2024.