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It's your choice: Skoda Superb or Ford Endeavour

June 20, 2016 15:12 IST

If you don’t mind working over weekends and like being in a two-piece suit all day long, pick the Superb. And if you have a penchant for exploring places over the weekend, look no further than the Endeavour which can also carry your gang

You must be wondering why we are comparing a premium saloon to a full sized four-wheel drive SUV. But you’ll be surprised to see that the new Skoda Superb and the Ford Endeavour are nearly identical in terms of pricing, onboard equipment and, most importantly, snob value.

Just before you start thinking that we have completely lost our minds, let us clarify. In our defence, the Endeavour and the Superb are presently among the most value-for-money cars in the country. To justify this, at approximately half the asking price they offer what most of the vehicles almost two segments above skip on.

Planning to spend just over Rs 30 lakh for your next upgrade? Check out which of the two fits better for you - the muscular off-roader or the elegant saloon.

If you talk about the design both the cars are diametrically opposite to each other - if the Endeavour is like trekking boots then the Superb is like stilettos. The Endeavour is a pick-up truck (Ford Ranger)-derived-body-on-frame SUV and saying it is massive would be an understatement. The big Ford is intimidating. Two of the Endeavour’s arch rivals, the next-gen Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and the Toyota Fortuner have adopted relatively tamer appearances but Ford refuses to do so.

The enormous chrome grille flanked by equally dominating projector headlamps, protruding wheel arches and massive haunches, 18-inch machined alloys - all scream raw muscle. It comes easy for the Endeavour to dwarf Skoda’s flagship sedan in front of it.

Speaking of the Superb, the Czech here has an air of class and sophistication which the Americans just cannot pull off. Like always, it features an understated design. But the third generation Superb flaunts for the first time razor-sharp character lines that highlight the generous length of the car.

The Czech automaker highlighted that the new Superb’s design draws inspirations from the Bohemian tradition of glass art. The silhouettes of the third generation model are well sculpted with three-dimensional geometric shapes, sharp line and contours.

We love everything about it, details such as the LED graphics in the head and taillamps and others. It is wider than the Endeavour (yes, you read that right!) and yet manages to look slender and dapper. We feel that the proportions of the new Superb are just spot on for a premium saloon.

Interior

They are equally opposite to each other inside as well. To begin with, you need to climb up to get inside the Endeavour while you sit down into the Superb. Neither of them is easily accessible to someone with knackered knees, but we'd pick the Skoda for relatively easy ingress.

Starting with the Ford out of the two, you’d feel that the Endeavour's cockpit looks a little on the utilitarian side. Having said this, the Endy packs more than one would desire from a vehicle at this price point.

To begin with, it features two screens in the instrument cluster which let you scour through audio, calls, distance to empty and a lot more by using the buttons on the steering wheel, of which there are 22!

The infotainment system is Ford’s SYNC unit - SYNC 2 with optional navigation. Dual-zone climate control, electrically adjustable seats, a panoramic sunroof and active noise cancellation are on the feature list as well.

On the flipside, the fit and finish along with the overall quality of plastics look a notch lower than the Skoda. The cabin might feel plush and premium in isolation, but get inside the Superb immediately after getting out of the Endeavour and you'll realise the former's European craftsmanship.

Skoda has paid a lot of attention to details in contrast to Ford; little bits such as how the gear lever feels while slotting into the driveq, the knurled finish on the temperature control knobs, the suave graphics on the infotainment and the multi-information display, all do their bit in uplifting the overall experience.

Even the leather looks and feels a bit better in the Superb. Just like its exteriors, the design of the dashboard is cleaner and fuzz-free with user-friendly layout and all the buttons and switches are just where you'd want them to be.

The infotainment system in the Superb supports MirrorLink and the decibels are pumped up by a twelve-speaker Canton audio system.

Besides these, you also get three-zone climate control, electronically adjustable driver and passenger seat, the aptly called 'boss button', ventilated seats and more.

The Superb comes with ventilated front seats, which we think is an absolute boon in our conditions, whereas the rear bench offers acres of legroom. What is to complain about? Umm… practically nothing!

The Skoda’s cabin can literally shame sedan a class above when it comes to stuff on offers and how it pampers you.

Unlike the Superb, from the Endeavour’s driver’s seat you get a commanding view of the road ahead just like any other SUV. This is one of the best feelings driving it around and looking down at almost everyone on the road.]

Speaking of the rear seats, they are adequately comfortable and can house three abreast. The third row can house adults as well, but that isn't something we recommend for longer trips.

In a nutshell, the Superb’s cabin comes close to a first-class business lounge which a suited entrepreneur is used to - similar to what has been advertised in Skoda's commercials in the past! While the Endeavour's, on the other hand, is made for a bunch of friends that find every possible excuse to head out on a road trip.

Engine, gearbox and performance

Let the figures talk first, the Skoda is pulled by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder oil burner that produces 177PS and 350Nm. The Ford, on the other hand, is powered by a 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel churning out 200PS and 470Nm of peak torque. On paper, the Superb evidently look down on power, but on tarmac, the Superb's lighter weight helps it run rings around the Endeavour.

Speaking of transmission, the six-speed dual-clutch gearbox in the Superb is in a different league altogether compared to the torque converter unit on the Endeavour.

The shifts are lightning quick and you barely notice an upshift or downshift unless you have floored  the accelerator pedal.

The paddle shifters in it are just icing on the cake. The power delivery is linear and there’s no sense of urgency until and unless you plonk it in ‘Sport’ mode. In Sport, the 2.0-litre TDI is put through the grind, the gearbox holds onto the revs longer and a subtle nudge to the throttle is all you need to overtake anything.

Overtaking isn’t a problem with the five-cylinder Endeavour also. Just like the Superb, it maintains speed consistently; all you need is a flick of the headlamp switch to pass and not a push on the gas pedal.

It has an intimidating road presence, which clears off everyone in the way. What slightly hampers the drivetrain is the six-speed auto box. It feels confused for a split second before obeying your command. That said, the powertrain can't be termed outright sluggish, but a slightly quicker response would've made it so much more drivable.

Now where the Skoda doesn’t even come anywhere closer to the Endeavour is the off-road drivability. It sits 225mm off the ground, which is more than adequate to pummel through the nastiest of potholes and the worst of roads.

Adding to it is the Endeavour’s 800mm of water wading capacity. Moreover, it also features a clever terrain response system that sets the SUV up to tackle the varying terrain. But, we seldom wish there was a manual gearbox on offer with the 3.2-litre motor - the off-road enthusiast does miss this.

Ride, handling and braking

As the name indicates the ride quality of the Superb is … SUPERB! The brilliant suspension setup irons out most of the undulation and barely lets anything upset the occupants. If you have the two cars in your driveway, most of the days you’ll probably take the Superb out of the two.

The Endeavour, in contrast, can tackle anything our roads will ever throw at it, practically anything. But due to its body-on-frame construction, as expected the ride is slightly bouncy, especially in the second row.

Being a monocoque construction the Superb is obviously better at tackling the bends too.  The electronically assisted steering feels nice and light and makes it really easy to maneuver considering its dimensions.

As already mentioned, courtesy of the construction, the Endeavour has a fair bit of a body roll through the bends and the steering isn't as light as the Skoda. Speaking of the straight line stability, both cars feel confident and relaxed and you can do triple-digit speeds all day long.

Both the vehicles get disc brakes all around. Nothing to complain about when it comes to stopping power, which is more than adequate in both. However, the 2-tonne ladder-frame Endeavour dips its nose down quite a bit under heavy braking whereas the monocoque Superb maintains its poise.

Verdict

Selecting one among the two hasn't been as easy as we thought it would be. It comes down to your personal choice, needs and, more importantly, to your personality. If you don’t mind working over weekends and like being in a two-piece suit all day long, pick the Superb. And if you have a penchant for exploring places over the weekend, look no further than the Endeavour which can also carry your gang.

Ford Endeavour

What we like:

  • Its sheer presence clears off almost everyone in your way
  • Punchy 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel has more than required power
  • Can switch between mud, sand, grass and rock mode with the Terrain Management System
  • Big and airy cabin with a panoramic sunroof. A seven-seater in the truest sense

What we don't:

  • Six-speed automatic gearbox isn't too polished. Lets the potent engine down
  • The quality of materials used at certain places could have been better
  • Bouncy ride quality, especially in the second row

Skoda Superb

What we like:

  • Clean, sharp and contemporary design
  • Acres of legroom and shoulder room, especially at the rear
  • Practically flawless ride quality
  • Features. Touchscreen unit with MirrorLink, ventilated seats, dual clutch transmission, 8 airbags

What we don't:

  • 149 mm of ground clearance for the diesel. Underbelly will scrape often
  • Noise levels inside the cabin on the move. Sounds very hoarse for a premium luxury saloon
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