Skoda’s third generation Superb is here, and it’s more premium and contemporary than ever before. But there is a change in character of sorts. We drive down the twisty roads of Coorg to find out just how it’s evolved.
The concept of luxury is a very vast and subjective one. And when it comes to cars, Skoda chose to make a statement in the then entry-level luxury sedan segment back in 2001 with the launch of the first generation Superb.
Now, the new 2016 Skoda Superb seeks to do much the same thing by offering more cabin space than any of its rivals, combined with a lengthy equipment list at a relatively affordable price tag. The original Superb expanded the concept of a premium saloon and the new one seeks to do much the same thing, except in a more contemporary manner to stay with the times.
As you can see here, the third generation Skoda Superb has a sharper design theme as compared to the more rounded lines of the outgoing model. The A and C Pillars are more raked, the side windows get more angular lines while the rear quarter window is now a triangular piece. In fact, the whole car gets sharper and more crisp lines and contours that make the new Superb look up to date and a little sporty in fact.
As per Skoda’s new design language the bonnet now has a protruding centre section that extends on to the front grille and houses the Skoda logo. The headlamps get LED daytime running elements that double up for the front indicators. The head lamps are projector units with adaptive front light system that responds to speed and directional changes.
Owing to the more raked pillars, the new Superb looks sporty thanks also to the sharp beltline, recessed lower section of the doors. The wheel arches are mildly flared and house 17 inch multi spoke alloys.
The rear profile of the car again is a combination of sharp lines on the boot lid segregating the top section from the mid section that houses the license plate and another sharp change in contour on the lower section. The tail lamps too are angular and stretch onto the boot lid. The rear bumper has a faux air diffuser in the lower section, it houses reflectors on either side with multiple lines segregating its contours.
The interiors of the new Superb feature sharp design cues like on the exteriors with those new angular air vents, a faux wooden panel running across the centre of the dashboard and the new hexagonal instrument binnacle. The cabin sports a dual tone layout with beige and black interiors. The seats in the L&K spec model are upholstered in perforated leather while the front units feature air conditioning. Speaking of air conditioning, the new Superb boasts of a three zone climate control system. Another feature this L&K model boasts of is ambient lighting for the cabin.
You can see where this is going on the equipment front as Skoda has loaded the new Superb with an array of features including a new SmartLink touchscreen infotainment system with a 12 speaker Canton sound system, the system now also gets a USB slot, electrically adjustable heated and auto dimming ORVMs with auto tilt for reverse gear, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable front seats with bolster adjust and lots more.
Coming back to the seats, the front ones also gets bolster adjust for optimal comfort while the driver’s seat gets three memory settings. They are comfortable but could perhaps offer a little more upper back support. The rear seats have plenty of legroom and offer good under-thigh and back support as well.
Engine and Gearbox
The Skoda Superb L&K we drove was the diesel model powered by the same 2.0 litre, four cylinder turbo diesel engine that served its predecessor. The unit develops 174bhp between 3,600 and 4,000 rpm along with 350Nm of torque between a handy 1,500 – 3,500 rpm. Power delivery is carried out to the front wheels via a six-speed DSG automatic gearbox like earlier.
The wide powerband of the engine gives the new Superb good drivability and a strong mid-range. The unit gets multiple drive modes and feels rather comfortable in Normal mode, the gearbox will hold gears longer in sports mode but even then there will be times when you will need to toggle the gearlever for faster downshifts when you really want to get going. And even here, I wish shift times where a little quicker to allow you to make those precise overtakes on two lane roads.
Otherwise the engine revs freely for a diesel and power keeps coming in strong post the 4,000 rpm mark but it’s best not to go past the 4,500 rpm mark as the motor will feel strained. Keep the engine between 2,000 and around 4,200 rpm and you will be rewarded with potent acceleration.
Ride and Handling
The new Skoda Superb is based on the VW group’s MQB platform that makes it lighter than the outgoing model. The new model is longer, wider, taller and has a longer wheelbase than the second gen model. The car is underpinned by McPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link setup at the rear.
The car has been raised for India and the ride feels more cushioned than earlier, it completely dismisses road undulations off tarmac as we experienced while driving over some dirt roads in Coorg. On tarmac too, the ride is well cushioned, but the flip side is that it has lost some of the sharp handling traits of the previous model. Of course, this is going to go down well with buyers who are likely more often to be plonked on the rear seat of this saloon.
The steering feels rather light in ‘Normal’ drive mode and offers little in terms of feedback, engage sports mode and the steering weighs up to give you a more direct feel, although steering feedback as expected from an electronic unit is still not the best.
Nevertheless, driving down the winding and scenic roads of Coorg allowed me to explore the potential of the new Superb’s chassis, suspension, steering and brakes of the car. Like earlier, the new model too belies its size on the road as body control for such a long car is excellent, you can chuck it into corners and the chassis and suspension ensure agility that allows you to carry a fair bit of speed, the steering makes for predictable inputs allowing you to explore the dynamic limits of the car. The new Superb gets disc brakes all around which provide good bite and feel further enhancing the confidence of the car.
The third generation Skoda Superb not only feels like a grown up version of its predecessor as a larger car that offers all the comfort of the previous gen model while pushing the envelope to make journeys a more comfortable experience for occupants. While it feels more grown up on the inside, it looks younger on the outside thanks to a more angular design that gives it a fresh and somewhat athletic appeal.
It has lost some of the sharpness on the driving front in order to make for a more plush product overall and you can’t really go against that as it suits its overall characteristic.
Like earlier, the new car too is very well equipped (with the exception of a built in navigation unit), offers a phenomenal amount of in-cabin space and is priced very attractively at Rs. 23.83 lakh to Rs. 30.85 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), making it a very attractive proposition for those looking for a luxury saloon experience.
Engine: 1,968cc / In-line 4-cylinders / Turbocharged Fuel: Diesel Transmission: 6-Speed DSG Automatic / Front Wheel Drive Power: 174bhp @ 3,600 - 4,000rpm Torque: 350Nm @ 1,500 - 3,500rpm Front Suspension: McPherson Strut Rear Suspension: Multi-link independent suspension Front Brakes: Discs Rear Brakes: Discs Tyre Size: 215/55 R17
Engine: 1,968cc / In-line 4-cylinders / Turbocharged
Transmission: 6-Speed DSG Automatic / Front Wheel Drive
Power: 174bhp @ 3,600 - 4,000rpm
Torque: 350Nm @ 1,500 - 3,500rpm
Front Suspension: McPherson Strut
Rear Suspension: Multi-link independent suspension
Front Brakes: Discs
Rear Brakes: Discs
Tyre Size: 215/55 R17