In search for a second-hand Skoda Superb - 23 March 2012
With the end of my time with the Skoda Superb estate fast approaching, I find myself contemplating the future and getting a little anxious. The thought of life without her and her big booty fills me with dread and fear. And so it is, late at night and after a couple of glasses of wine I find myself sat alone in the dark and online.
The Auto Trader website search boxes pops up on the screen, still filled with the evidence of my last automotive fantasy. I scrolled from ‘Ferrari’ to ‘Skoda’ and from ‘360’ to ‘Superb’ and let myself seriously entertain the possibility of buying a car. Of buying a Skoda Superb.
A total of 527 cars appear for sale secondhand in the UK. This may sound a good choice, but dropped to just 119 when I specified an estate model. This reflects the rarity of the Superb, and to put it into context if I were shopping for an Audi A4 Avant of the same age I would have double the cars to choose from.
The first page of Skodas looked good value indeed, with 2011 cars having covered half the miles of our long termer for just thirteen grand. On closer inspection these all turned out to be the poverty-spec ‘S’ models powered by the 1.4 TSI. Having grown accustomed to my cars top of the range Elegance trim I now feel unable to do without heated leather seats and xenons, so I go in search of something more befitting my status and typed ‘Elegance’ into my search criteria.
As the new page of search results flash up, I find myself staring at my car: a 2011 1.6 TDI Elegance Greenline finished in Candy White. They could have been twins. This model is on sale at a dealer, has covered 16,500 miles and is offered for sale at £18,000.
Food for thought indeed, but not the bargain I was hoping for. It seems that the resale values of Skodas now hold up well - their engineering soundness and improving image has bolstered secondhand Skoda values. Indeed prices for pre-owned Skoda Yetis are not far short of new prices due to a six-month waiting list for new cars.
Still, every cloud has a silver lining. If the secondhand values are strong, maybe it would make more sense to go for a brand new car in my personal choice of colour, engine and spec. It’s going to be a long night...
By Mark Fagelson
It's superb – 13 March 2012
As time goes by I find myself warming to the Skoda more and more. I even wonder to myself if I could and would, given free reign to choose whatever I fancied, buy a Superb over the competition.
It’s proven to be an ideal workhorse and family car. Plenty of space, good road manners and all the equipment I could wish for make it an attractive proposition. Given a straight choice I would rather be seen in an Merc, Audi or BMW – but what price would this vanity cost me? Up to £35,000 by my reckoning. My Skoda is £10,000 less, as well as offering more space than the C-class, A4 or 3-series.
I have been looking at Superb drivers when out and about to see what type of breed they are. Generally they seem to be over 50, but then so are most Ferrari drivers. What Skoda offers as a brand image is a refreshing lack of pretence. There is an uncommon lack of marketing spin on offer from the company.
I did not attend the press launch of the Superb, but I can well imagine that, rather than subject the roomful of journalists to a tightly orchestrated three-hour multimedia overview and detailed vehicle briefing, the good people at Skoda probably just said something along the lines of: ‘Here is our new model, the Superb. We’ve worked rather hard, so we hope you like it.’ I know I do.
By Mark Fagelson
Servicing our Superb – 20 February 2012
Hold the front page! After months of maintenance-free motoring the Skoda is asking for its first service.
Up until now I was under the impression that the car had its own band of spanner wielding Czech goblins that visited in the night. The car just runs. It needs no oil, unlike a previous 1.9 TDI Audi I owned which drank a good litre every 5000 miles. It needs no washer fluid, unlike the Mini Countryman which seemed intent on dehydrating itself in a vain attempt to keep its headlights clean. It barely even needs filling with diesel, the 1.6 TDI giving a 50mpg average in daily (hard) use.
Having covered over 19,000 miles I feel the car is well deserving of a first service. Fortunately, after many years bereft of a nearby Skoda dealership, Southend-on-Sea has been blessed with a brand new showroom and servicing facilities courtesy of Essex Autogroup, who have slotted the marque into a new building amongst its existing Ford, Mazda and Jaguar dealerships. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me, as it meant an entirely convenient two mile trip to drop the car in.
Usually a first service visit to a dealer with a car that is under warranty affords the customer ample opportunity to moan about small faults, squeaks and rattles in their new pride and joy. The dealer meanwhile is free to strongly suggest overpriced new tyres, brake pads and pollen filters costing more than a tank of fuel.
On this occasion there was none of the above. I had no faults to report, because the car has been faultless. The dealer had nothing to sell me beyond an oil and filter change because nothing had worn. Pads are fine, tyres are at a healthy 7mm tread depth all round, and the battery is at 80%.
The bill came out at £139.55+VAT which, if a little pricey for an oil change, is a bargain for a main dealer service on a big car.
By Mark Fagelson
The big spec of our even bigger Superb – 25 January 2012
Before launching into amusing anecdotes and wry observations about my new long-term test car, I thought it best to spare a moment to outline exactly what I have sat out on the driveway.
The Skoda Superb is the Czech company’s biggest, poshest, most expensive model – and I’ve got the even bigger Estate. But it’s in parsimonious Greenline II spec, which means a 1.6 TDI engine and a raft of fuel saving modifications to give it the impressive headline figures of 64.2mpg and 114 g/km CO2.
But so I don’t feel like a miser, it’s in Elegance trim level, a top-of-the-range spec level that doesn't leave any boxes unticked when it comes to goodies and extras. List price for our model is £24,260, which strikes me as altogether reasonable when you check the spec…
Heated and electric memory leather seats, colour touchscreen sat-nav, Bluetooth phone and music streaming, voice control, a multi-function leather steering wheel, rear parking sensors, and bi-xenon headlights that look around corners and dance when you switch them on. That's very much the tip of the iceberg as far as equipment goes – it's telling that the only extras from the options list fitted here are floor mats and front parking sensors. There is even an umbrella hidden, James Bond-style, in the rear passenger door. Just like a Rolls Royce.
Do I sound impressed? That's because I am. Try speccing a BMW to these levels and see where it gets you. I did just that. The answer is £34,015 for a 318d Touring. So it's great value. Time will tell if it's a great car.
By Mark Fagelson
Hello to our new Skoda – 3 January 2012
I awaited the arrival of my new long-term test car with great excitement: a Skoda Superb Estate was on its way and I for one couldn’t wait. Others haven’t been quite so enthusiastic: the first thing my older brother did when news of my new wheels reached him on the family grapevine was email me a long list of ancient Skoda jokes lazily culled from the internet.
My eager anticipation was not to be dulled however, and when delivery day arrived I was duly impressed. First, err, impressions are of a large, handsome estate. Finished in white (a favourite colour of mine) with dark tints to the rear windows and pretty light clusters it looks smart – if a little indistinct. The wheels are a let-down: 16 inches would look small on a Micra, but here they are a necessary part of the fuel saving Greenline-spec of this model. The eco changes extend to the engine (a 1.6 TDI producing 104bhp), the gearbox (five speeds rather than six to save weight) and the ride height (a 15mm suspension drop, combined with a revised front bumper for better aero performance).
Despite the Greenline spec, which besides the wheels is thankfully signalled only by a couple of small and cheap green stickers, this is one luxury Czech barge. In Elegance trim it’s the top of the range model; I’ll save a full list of the goodies for a later report, but immediately noticed and appreciated were the full black leather interior, colour touch-screen sat-nav, multifunction steering wheel, heated and electric front seats, and xenon headlights. The cabin feels very well appointed indeed, if not quite Audi-esque then certainly more Phaeton than Golf.
If you really do want to get a joke out of your new Skoda then, rather than resurrecting playground gags from the 1980s, ask your victim to jump in the back seat and watch them start laughing. Unless you are used to limos or first class air travel you will find the legroom on offer frankly absurd – the footwells are around the size of my old Mini Countryman’s boot. Similarly large is the boot itself, with a good square shape, flat floor and low lip for easy loading. I’m a very happy photographer.
All in all I think the car is going to suit me just fine – I look forward to putting the big Skoda to work.
By Mark Fagelson