Our Skoda Superb Estate: the great outdoors isn't always great

Published: Yesterday 11:30

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

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.

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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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