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10 things you need to know about Skoda’s armoured Superb

It’s British-built. It’ll stop grenades. Here’s the inside line on Skoda’s bulletproof family estate

Published: 15 Jun 2023

Has your beloved family Labrador recently become involved in an underground poker ring that got way out of hand? And, as a result, is he now the top target of your heavily armed local militia?

If so, good news! Top Gear has the car recommendation for you and your Most Wanted mutt: an armoured Skoda Superb estate, courtesy of UTAC Special Vehicles.

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For the last five years, this Millbrook-based firm has been taking the phrase ‘bulletproof family car’ way too literally, turning every chonky canine’s favourite ride into a projectile-proof police wagon.

Clearly believing that Top Gear could offer important insights into the serious, life-or-death business of vehicle armoury, Skoda and UTAC SV invited Top Gear to have a shot. At driving the Superb, not with a pair of Uzis. Here’s what we found.

It’s a heavy lad

To transform the Superb from mild-mannered family estate into IndestructiWagon, UTAC strips the standard car down to its bare bones before rebuilding it around a shell of hot-formed armour – single pieces of thick armoured steel, heated to vast temperatures and pressed into shape.

It’s a process that makes UTAC’s Superb significantly more gunfire-tolerant than the standard Superb – which, though highly resilient to assault by toddler or Jack Russell, does tend to struggle under the attentions of an AK47 – but also significantly heavier.

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UTAC’s armoured Superb weighs in some 900 kilos more than the regular Superb estate. That’s pretty much an entire Murray T50 of additional mass.

It’s tough to spot

From the outside, there’s almost nothing to visually differentiate the armour-suited Superb from standard, which is great news for the monarch who wants to nip out for a pint of milk on Saturday morning without being recognised.

When you get up close, you notice the glass looks a bit… meatier than your regular AutoGlass offering, on account of its ability to stop hypersonic pointy metal projectiles.

The fitment of bulletproof glass does mean that the windows no longer open, which is why you rarely see armoured Superbs at your local McDonalds drive-thru.

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You don’t want to get your pinky caught in the door

Inside the front doors of many Skodas, you will find a neat umbrella. Not here. Inside the UTAC Skoda’s front doors, you will find an enormous amount of armour.

You get a sense of just how much heavy-duty steel is hiding within the Superb when you open one of the doors. Or, rather, try and fail to open one of the doors before resolving to spend a lot more time doing upper-body work in the gym.

Any road-tester who has ever claimed a Rolls-Royce’s doors shut with a ‘reassuring thud’ needs to give one of these bad boys a go. Make sure to keep your fingers well clear, unless you’ve always wanted digits the shape and consistency of thin-sliced Parma ham.

Armoured Skoda Superb Top Gear 2023

The stoppers are massive

The Superb not only needs to stop bullets. It also needs to stop itself at red lights and the like, which is easier said than done with three tonnes of rocket-resistant mass at play.

Though the rear brakes remain unchanged, the front brakes are new, and they’re absolute monsters. With 365mm discs clamped by four-piston calipers, this armoured Superb stops as quickly as, well, a bullet embedding itself in the side of an armoured Superb.

It’s packing posh suspension

To cope with all that extra weight – and the robust demands of Britain’s emergency services – UTAC give the Superb’s suspension a beefy overhaul too.

Bilstein dampers, Nitron springs and H&R anti-roll bars help make the heaviest Superb also quite probably the best-driving Superb of all, handling with impressive alacrity for something with the approximate weight of a small Channel Island.

It’ll repel pretty serious attack

Apparently the Superb is tested to PAS 300 and PAS 301 Civilian Armoured Vehicle, which would probably be impressive if Top Gear had the faintest idea what that actually meant.

UTAC is a little cagey on precisely what protection PAS 300 and 301 afford, lest it give any hints to miscreants (“Basically it means it’s impervious to mortar and machine-gun fire, but come at it with a can-opener and it’s absolutely done for…”) but does confirm that the Superb is ‘blast-resistant to grenades and high explosives’, and will also repel in excess of 200 rounds of ammunition.

Frankly if you haven’t figured out you’re not welcome in the neighbourhood after being greeted by 200 rounds of ammunition, you need more help than even an armoured Superb can provide.

You can only have it as an estate

Fine by us. Estates are, scientifically, cooler than hatches, and armoured estates are cooler still. The only thing cooler than an armoured estate, of course, is an armoured estate driven by Keanu Reeves.

Armoured Skoda Superb Top Gear 2023

They’re everywhere (sort of)

Over the last half-decade, around 500 armoured Superbs have rolled out of UTAC’s Millbrook base.

Which, weirdly, makes it one of the country’s higher-volume small-volume car builders: that’s approximately twice as many vehicles as Ariel has produced in the same period, with approximately 200 times the cumulative kerbweight.

It’s pretty cheap (by armoured vehicle standards)

Prices start at £150,000. Which is quite a lot of cash for a Czech station wagon, but apparently quite cheap for something that’ll keep you safe if you happen to get on the wrong side of Megatron. Comparable armoured-car rivals could, we’re told, cost you double that.

Trust Skoda to offer the responsible, cost-effective solution to ‘avoiding retribution at the hands of a Kalashnikov-wielding vigilante group’.

You probably can’t buy one

UTAC’s armoured Superbs are built to order for the British emergency services – and, reading between the lines, maybe certain high-up dignitary-types – but when Top Gear tried to probe this in more detail, some large men in dark suits and darker sunglasses appeared at the door, so let’s just leave it at that.

If you call up as a regular punter, asking to buy an armoured Superb… they’re most likely going to say no, sorry. UTAC want to be sure that none of their cars will end up in the hands of the bad guys, as they put it.

Even the law-abiding (and indeed law-enforcing) customers who are permitted to buy an armoured Superb aren’t permitted to then sell it on through the second-hand market. Which is a shame as it’d really spice up those AutoTrader descriptions. (“One careful owner, FSH, some light bazooka damage…”)

Which means, we’re afraid, no armoured Superb for your wanted-dead-or-alive Labrador. Unless, of course, you can convince UTAC and Skoda that Mr Waffles is a high-ranking government official…

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