Our Skoda Superb Estate: back in action

Published: 29 September 2020

 Skoda Superb Estate long-term test
 Regular reports living with the wagon
 We test SE L 2.0 TDI 190PS DSG 4x4

And we're back. My first significant photo shoot after months of – at most – low-key local work was quite a way to get back into the swing of things.

Long, sweaty, intense, it was one of those days we used to do all the time – and however much we used to complain about them, they're an utterly fundamental part of the business of putting CAR together every month. And it was a chance for the Superb to show what it could do, and then some.

The mission was to head down to Somerset to meet up with Ben Barry and photograph him testing the Ariel Nomad R in scorching heat on some great roads in and around Exmoor. Doesn't sound too terrible, does it? But bear in mind this is work, which means lots of driving between locations, interspersed with bouts of frantic activity when the opportunity arises to actually take the photos, all against the clock and mindful of health and safety.

I left Lincolnshire at 4am and arrived back home 16 hours later, having put 575 miles on the clock. If you saw the Nomad R story in the August issue, I hope you think that the photos were worth the effort; I was pretty pleased. And Ben Barry loved the car.

The Superb is everything the Nomad R is not, and vice versa. It's as much about the passengers and the luggage as it is about the driving experience, but it does a very good job of looking after the driver from a comfort and convenience point of view. It would be a lie to say I arrived home ready to do it all again – I didn't; I was knackered – but the Superb did a great job of unobtrusively, undemandingly getting on with its job, so I could get on with mine.

The boot was loaded with camera gear, car-cleaning kit and refreshments, but there was still masses of unoccupied space.

And just check out those fuel figures. Although there was an element of to-ing and fro-ing on Exmoor, most of the journey was steady motorway and A-road cruising, giving 43mpg.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Skoda Superb Estate SE L TDI 190 DSG 4x4

Price £35,640 (£39,500 as tested) 
Performance 1968cc diesel 4-cyl, 187bhp, 8.1sec 0-62mph, 138mph 
Efficiency 39.8-44.8mpg (official), 43.2mpg (tested), 129g/km C02 
Energy cost 11.1p per mile 
Miles this month 1386
Total miles 11,198


Month 5 living with a Skoda Superb Estate: praying for some fresh dirt

Superb LTT side

The Superb is shinier than it's ever been since it arrived, as I've spent much of the recent bonus spare time cleaning things, and then cleaning them again.

As I buff those roof rails one more time, I hanker for a decent European road trip. In fact, as I delve into the murk of the wheelarches, starting to restore them to showroom condition, I realise that a trip to the dump would be pretty good. Because driving is so satisfying, isn't it?

And the great advantage of the big Superb is that once I've taken all the rubbish I've cleared from the garage to the local recycling centre, and the grass clippings from the 600-plus times I've mown the lawn, I'll happily take it the long way home along some country roads for the fun of it.

Although it might not be everyone's first choice for a driver's car, it's in truth a really useful, versatile package. Adjust yourself to its strengths, and it can be a robust companion on both the local trips and the epics.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Skoda Superb Estate SE L TDI 190 DSG 4x4

Price £35,640 (£39,500 as tested) 
Performance 1968cc diesel 4-cyl, 187bhp, 8.1sec 0-62mph, 138mph 
Efficiency 39.8-44.8mpg (official), 41.2mpg (tested), 129g/km C02 
Energy cost 13.4p per mile 
Miles this month 116
Total miles 9812


Month 4 living with a Skoda Superb Estate: easy living

Just AdBlue
With the mileage slowly approaching 10,000 it's time to give the Superb a slurp of AdBlue. As prices are wildly inflated at fuel stations it's worth having some in your garage, or doing a bit of internet buying if you're able to. Mine was sourced from Euro Car Parts.

Superb LTT ski hatch

Off piste
I think it's safe to say the ski hatch is very unlikely to see any actual ski action in this Superb, but it does come in very useful on those runs to the DIY store. With the boot closed you can safely, securely carry proper adult skis, or in my case skirting boards.

Decluttered
Rear passengers get generous legroom, which counts for a lot, but little else in the way of luxuries here in this mid-spec SE L version. No heated seats, no charging points, no independent rear climate control. BYOL (bring your own luxuries) makes sense in a Skoda.

Superb LTT rear seat

A bigger splash
After years of getting into the habit of paying other people to wash my cars, I currently have the time to do the job myself. Thankfully it's not an SUV but you soon appreciate its size (4862mm long, 1864mm wide) when cleaning it by hand. Might need a bigger bucket.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Skoda Superb Estate SE L TDI 190 DSG 4x4

Price £35,640 (£39,500 as tested) 
Performance 1968cc diesel 4-cyl, 187bhp, 8.1sec 0-62mph, 138mph 
Efficiency 39.8-44.8mpg (official), 41.2mpg (tested), 129g/km C02 
Energy cost 13.4p per mile 
Miles this month 1063
Total miles 9696


Month 3 living with a Superb Estate: where's the mojo?

Superb LTT Defender

Parking my Superb next to the new Land Rover Defender brought into sharp focus something about the Skoda that had been gnawing away at the back of my mind. It's not about the safe but unexciting way it drives. It's not about the estate's ability to carry lots of luggage and five people in comfort – which is very good.

The issue is the lack of ambition that runs through the heart of the Superb. From Skoda, the people who brought us the Yeti, the Roomster, and – further back – the rear-engined Estelle, that's a shame. Compare that with the Defender: the latest bit of work from a company that seems happy with nothing less than creating new legends with every new model.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Skoda Superb Estate SE L TDI 190 DSG 4x4

Price £35,640 (£39,500 as tested) 
Performance 1968cc diesel 4-cyl, 187bhp, 8.1sec 0-62mph, 138mph 
Efficiency 39.8-44.8mpg (official), 40.2mpg (tested), 129g/km C02 
Energy cost 15.9p per mile 
Miles this month 2004
Total miles 8633


Month 2 living with a Skoda Superb Estate: the cosy interior

Superb LTT interior

The heated steering wheel: discuss. Until recently reserved for Scandi-spec Volvos and lumberjacks’ pick-ups, the option of a warm rim has recently spread to mainstream cars. That includes my Superb, where a multi-function heated leather steering wheel is a £240 option.

It would be easy to be unaware of the feature, as there’s no physical switch to operate it. Instead you turn it on and off using the central touchscreen, where it shares an icon with the heated seats. On a winter’s day spent hopping in and out of the car in Snowdonia, with a harsh wind whipping in off the Irish Sea, that steering wheel made a world of difference to my hands and their ability to operate a camera and indeed a car. It is, if anything, a bit too effective, or more precisely very slow to cool down, so you learn to switch it off before it’s finished its work.

The Superb doesn’t have the dynamism to pump you full of adrenaline. It doesn’t have the wow factor to make you swoon. But it does have the space and the user-friendliness to enhance your working and family life, not least in the form of a heated steering wheel.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Skoda Superb Estate SE L TDI 190 DSG 4x4

Price £35,640 (£39,500 as tested) 
Performance 1968cc diesel 4-cyl, 187bhp, 8.1sec 0-62mph, 138mph 
Efficiency 39.8-44.8mpg (official), 40.2mpg (tested), 129g/km C02 
Energy cost 15.9p per mile 
Miles this month 984
Total miles 6629


Month 1 living with a Skoda Superb estate: hello and welcome

Superb LTT hello

When did you last push a car? Do you have rose-tinted memories of applying shoulder to rump of reluctant Clio or de-fuelled Fiesta? Luckily, cars have got more reliable over the years. But they’ve also got a great deal heavier. Should you have cause to push a Superb Estate you might want to make sure you’re on good terms with a physio first.

At 1612kg fuelled but driverless and unluggaged, it asks a lot of its 2.0-litre diesel engine just to get rolling. Blame the all-wheel-drive system. Blame the sheer size of the car. Blame the long list of equipment fitted as standard. It’s hardly alone among big estates in being a porker, but you expect better from Skoda, which has a tradition of finding clever solutions to packaging problems. There’s nothing terribly clever about providing a lot of interior space by making the car very big, and making it safe by building it from girders and stuffing it full of sensors and airbags.

Forgive my gloom. Over the next few months I may well come to be very grateful for the all-wheel-drive, the roominess and the equipment. But at this early stage I’m looking at a lot of metal and plastic, and reading a long list of sensible but unexciting convenience and safety features, and wondering if this is quite the glorious future we were promised.

The engine doing battle with the Superb’s chunkiness is probably the best-suited of the lot: a 2.0-litre turbodiesel four making 188bhp and, more importantly, 295lb ft of torque. (A more powerful petrol is available, but ours is the torquiest engine in the line-up, and torque is what you want in a hard-working, frequently heavily-laden estate.) It feeds all four wheels through a seven-speed twin-clutch auto. It’s in SE L trim, which isn’t fancy but includes Matrix LED headlights and an electrically operated boot, adaptive cruise control, DAB radio, dual-zone climate control and a great many electronic safety aids.

Clever touches abound in the Skoda Superb Estate

Our particular car also has £3860 of extras: electrically adjustable front seats (£620) with ventilation (a further £655), a heated steering wheel (£240), towbar (£850), metallic paint (£595), park assist (£420) and a reversing camera (£150). These are all worthwhile – although I’d question one or two being options rather than built in – but the result is a car that costs £500 short of 40 grand on the road. That’s E-Class money.

The best estate cars: our guide

I’m a tall bloke with a growing family, so the size of the Superb is on the whole a very good thing. I got a pallet into the boot, with the rear seats upright. I can stretch out in the back, which for someone of my height is a rare luxury. Fitting two child seats isn’t the work-out some other estates make it.

That boot really is fantasically big, at 660 litres seats up, or 1760 litres with the rear seats folded. It’s not just big, it’s well shaped and easily accessed. And being an estate rather than SUV, you’re not reaching up when you deposit or retrieve your heavy, awkward loads.

So far the only downside to the size is that you have to choose your parking spaces with care, as the length exceeds that offered by many supermarkets. On the road, though, the size isn’t an issue.

The weight, however, is. Not that you’re having to wrestle the Superb around; it’s more that you never get any sense of dynamism. In other contexts, that 188bhp engine can feel pretty peppy, but here it’s tasked with providing an adequate level of performance. Fun is simply not on the agenda, so you just drive smoothly and calmly.

Which makes it all the more frustrating that initial fuel consumption is not at all special. For a sedately driven diesel, 40.0mpg is slightly disappointing. Blame the weight. 

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Skoda Superb Estate SE L TDI 190 DSG 4x4

Price £35,640 (£39,500 as tested) 
Performance 1968cc diesel 4-cyl, 187bhp, 8.1sec 0-62mph, 138mph 
Efficiency 39.8-44.8mpg (official), 40.0mpg (tested), 129g/km C02 
Energy cost 15.8p per mile 
Miles this month 2345
Total miles 5645

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