Czech mate

Skoda Superb Sportline Plus Hatch

Model on test £42,985

Telling my wife that my next review was going to be a Skoda didn’t generate the same reaction as an Audi or a Volkswagen, despite effectively coming from the same stable as its reputable German engineered cousins. 

And that in itself speaks volumes. If we’re of a certain age, we all remember the long-standing jokes about Skoda’s reliability… what’s the best way to find spare parts for a Skoda? Follow one. What do you call a Skoda with twin exhausts? A wheelbarrow. 

But those jokes are almost thirty years old. And in that time, Skoda, like it’s erstwhile home, Czechoslovakia, evolved. The former joining the VW family in 1994, the latter splitting into Slovakia and the Czech Republic one year earlier in 1993. It’s astounding that a reputation for poor quality can persist almost three decades after it should have died a death. 

This Skoda Superb is quite frankly well-named; it really is superb. The body shape is sleek for a large family hatchback and sharing underpinnings with so many well-respected marques (more on that later) means it handles well too with a great ride and minimal road noise. 

The interior is a genuinely nice place to be. The model I tested had sculpted comfortable heated seats with plenty of Alcantara leather and quality materials for the dash and steering wheel. A reasonable satnav and fantastic stereo, topped off by Skoda‘s version of the virtual cockpit first seen on Audis complete an incredibly spacious cabin. The space is amazing. Rear legroom should accommodate three adults regardless of height in comfort and a truly massive boot gives another big tick to the practicality column. 

The only downside to the great two-litre engine and auto gearbox was the four-wheel drive system which is frankly unnecessary in a family hatchback and impacted the fuel economy considerably. I averaged 29mpg in a week of predominantly motorway commuting. 

A bit more on the underpinnings. It’s based on something VW call the MQB platform which allows them to base a wide range of cars on the same modular base. Hence this big hatchback shares a skeleton with everything from superminis to mid-size SUVs from the VW group. 

Not surprising they want to use this platform on so much given its $60billion development cost… and therefore not surprising that the result is such a consummate performer, able to handle motorway miles, country roads and town driving without any discomfort. 

Other than the four-wheel drive system my only issue was the colour of my test car, and although it grew on me and looked great when the sun shone, was one of the ugliest colours I’ve ever seen on a press car. Easily overcome though, just don’t order tor’s in Dragon Green Metallic. 

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