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Rediff.com  » Business » Skoda Superb diesel's ride quality is phenomenal

Skoda Superb diesel's ride quality is phenomenal

Last updated on: July 07, 2016 13:27 IST

The third-generation model is the most flamboyant Superb that Skoda has ever pulled off

Ever since the Skoda Superb was introduced in India, it has been the go-to luxury sedan for the elite.

The previous two generations had acres of legroom at the rear bench, and it is no surprise that owners preferred to be chauffeured around in it.

While it did pamper the rear-seat occupants, the Superb never made the onlooker give it a second glance. The past generations were understated, just like the sophisticated gentleman in the rear bench or the hidden umbrella in the rear doors.

Now the third-generation Superb has arrived in India and, as anyone would’ve guessed, the Czech automaker has tweaked the proven recipe to take on the newcomers in the segment. Well, does it succeed?

Exteriors

The new Superb has been designed by the same guy who designed the mighty Bugatti Veyron, a certain Jozef Kaban. And it shows. The third-generation model is the most flamboyant Superb that Skoda has ever pulled off.

The curvaceous and rounded look of the older Superb has been replaced by razor-sharp lines, making it sharper and edgier than ever before.

Skoda has said that the new Superb’s design draws inspiration from the Bohemian tradition of glass art.

The silhouette of the third-gen model is well sculpted with three-dimensional geometric shapes, sharp lines and contours. There is so much attention to detail that it is difficult to absorb it all in one go.

The new Superb has carried forward the trademark Skoda grille, which is flanked by sleeker bi-xenon projector headlamps.

Just like the rest of the vehicle, the headlamps are detailed as well, with elements such as decorative cut crystal high beam lamps and illuminated 'eyelashes' with daytime running LEDs.

Nothing in the new Superb looks out of place – the honeycomb pattern on the air dam, the subtle chrome lipstick on the grille and its wide stance altogether make for an intimidating sight in the rear-view mirror.

The side profile flaunts the mammoth size of this D2 segment sedan, which stands at 4.7 metres.

The wheels are pushed out towards the edges, which further exaggerates it sheer length.

This, in turn, has increased its wheelbase by a sizeable 80mm compared to the previous model.

A sharp character line runs along the length of the vehicle connecting the head and tail lamps, just like a pleat on a well-ironed shirt. The roofline has a sharper rake compared to the outgoing model, giving  it a coupe-like silhouette. The large 17-inch wheels fill the wheel well nicely and give the car a planted stance.

Mimicking the headlamps, the taillamps also feature crystalline elements. The new Superb has Skoda’s signature ‘C’ graphics in the tail lamps but it is sharper than ever.

Other than this, the rear profile is fuss free, compared to the front and is as clean as it can get. The large hatch takes up most of the real estate at the rear, while a blacked-out plastic diffuser attempts to break the bulk of colour.

All in all, Skoda has finally put in the missing ingredient in its famous Superb recipe - flamboyance. This element might have been missing for a few buyers in the past generations, but with the new Superb, it is spot on. The long nose, the stubby tail and the sheer width make the Czech one among the few cars that demand your attention.

Interiors

Hop inside and the unmistakable scent of leather greets you. Like always, there’s a generous helping of leather everywhere – all seats and armrests are draped in quality beige leather, making the voluminous cabin look airy.

Like its peers, the interiors follow a beige–black combo with a few piano black and silver/chrome accents thrown in for the little details.

Unsurprisingly, everything you touch, twist or turn feels premium and built to last. The third-generation Octavia brought a major change in Skoda’s design philosophy, both inside and out, and the new Superb’s dash is reminiscent of the same.

The layout is clean and user-friendly - the touchscreen infotainment system, controls for the automatic airconditioner, and storage spaces are easily accessible.

The new Superb flaunts a long list of features such as a sunroof, three-zone climate control and a touchscreen audio system with MirrorLink, and ventilated front seats, among others.

The front seats are electrically adjustable, and the driver’s seat offers three memory settings as well. The cushioning is on the softer side and holds most frames nicely.

The comfortable seats and the ventilation do a good job of keeping fatigue at bay, which you will particularly appreciate when driving long distances.

Like before, the instrument cluster features twin-pod setup and a large, multi-information display that can be controlled via the buttons on the steering wheel.

It

reads out practically everything you want to know, such as speed, the song that's playing, distance to empty, and a lot more. The steering wheel is a nice, leather-clad compact unit that is incredibly light.

Most owners will spend the majority of their time at the rear, and Skoda has taken care of this well. The car feels like it is built for the person sitting in the rear.

To begin with, there’s this 'Boss Button' that is basically two small switches placed on the side of the front passenger seat which allows ‘Mr Boss’ to make himself comfortable.

Moreover, the rear passengers can also adjust the temperature for themselves as it comes with three-zone air conditioning. In a nutshell, the rear bench is the place to be in, and enjoy its brilliant 12-speaker Canton audio system.

The 625-litre boot space it offers can swallow practically everything you throw at it for your extended vacations and business travels.

On the flipside, the 6.5-inch touchscreen is rather small for a car of its size and stature. Most new-gen cars get larger screens and a slick user interface. In contrast, the Superb’s screen looks dated.

Speaking of rear visibility, we feel that the rear-view mirror is a size smaller  than it should have been. Also, its coupe-ish stance slightly affects rearward visibility.

This isn't a problem while reversing, thanks to the reverse camera, but changing lanes on a highway, for example, requires that one extra second and a sideways glance.

Engine, gearbox and performance

The Superb is powered by a familiar 2.0-litre TDi diesel engine, which we have seen in most Vollkswagen Group cars. It puts out a decent 177PS of peak power and a max torque of 350Nm.

The only downside of this oil burner is the noise level. At idle and on the go, the engine is fairly audible for a car of this stature.

The new Superb comes with three preset driving modes – 'Eco', 'Normal' and 'Sport'. And like most luxury cars, there’s an 'Individual' mode as well, that lets you set the engine and steering up on their own.

The ‘Eco’ mode, as the name indicates, helps you to save every little drop of diesel. Notably, it even alters how and when the AC compressor kicks in.

The 2.0-litre oil burner has no turbo lag as such, but the lazy throttle response in the ‘Eco’ mode at cruising speeds might just come close to it. The power delivery is linear in the default ‘Normal’ mode, and ambling about in the city is a breeze.

It is pretty obvious that it is the ‘Sport’ mode which lets you exploit the Superb diesel’s 177PS. The throttle response is sharp and instantaneous, while the feedback from the steering gets better. The gearbox will hold the revs much higher, letting you have all that 350Nm of torque.

The motor is mated to a six-speed dual clutch automatic box (VW’s DSG). It gets paddle shifters as well, which allows you to control the gearbox completely. Gear changes are seamless, and unless you stomp the pedal, you won't know when the gearbox has shifted up. Downshifts are a tad noticeable, more so when driven hard.

Ride and handling

The Superb is happy cruising down a nice open road comfortably rather than blitzing through it. Not that it cannot do it, but the guy behind the wheel might not favour it because it does feel slightly bulky and out of its element while at it. Within the city, the big Skoda can iron out almost everything our roads throw at it, and only large undulations unsettle it.

The ride quality is phenomenal in the Superb. It remains poised well past the triple-digit barrier and there’s nothing to crib about when it comes to ride quality.

Being a low-slung sedan gives it good cornering manners; chuck it around a corner and the Superb darts at your command.

The body roll is well under check and the steering weighs up appropriately as soon as the pace increases - feedback improves if you’re in the 'Sport' mode.

The only thing you can crib about is the ground clearance: at 149mm, the Superb might get its underbelly scratched often in a country like India.

Verdict

Like we said before, Skoda has put just the right missing ingredient in the Superb recipe. The added flamboyance, along with improved overall packaging and the new lightweight Volkswagen MQB platform have made the new Superb worth every penny you pay for it.

Moreover, the sheer amount of space at the rear bench can put most cars a segment (or maybe even two) above it to shame.

What we like:

  • Sharp, edgy and contemporary design
  • Acres of leg and shoulder room
  • Ride quality is phenomenal
  • Technology: Touchscreen audio system, ventilated seats, dual clutch transmission, 8 airbags 

What we don't:

  • Ground clearance is just 149mm for the diesel. Easy to scrape the underbelly over a nasty speed breaker.
  • Noise levels inside the cabin on the move. Sounds very hoarse for a premium luxury saloon.

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