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£38,435 when new
Has Skoda gone electric? Yep, behold Skoda’s first step into the world of electrification. Hardly earth-shattering - it’s a mildly facelifted Superb (new lights, bumpers, interior screen) with the same plug-in hybrid gubbins as a VW Passat GTE - but then how often do the Czechs do radical? Skoda’s modus operandi is to incorporate tech when it’s genuinely useful, reliable and, more importantly, affordable. This Superb iV (that’s the Skoda electric sub-brand we’re about to see a lot more of, starting with the Citigo iV) starts at £31,970 - nearly £5,000 less than the equivalent Passat GTE – so that’s half the job done. What’s the other half? Deciding whether a plug-in Superb is actually useful or not, which (yes, I’m a cop out) depends on your personal situation. Skoda claims e-mode – the default when you switch the car on, assuming there’s any battery left – gives you 34-miles of zero-emissions running (and over 500 miles range when combined with the engine and a full tank of petrol). Not bad, but probably closer to 20 electric miles in reality. Got somewhere to charge at home, or work, and a short commute? It’s a working-week electric car, lots of potential for savings. More miles to cover? The case over a cheaper petrol or diesel model (starting at £24,655) will progressively crumble. Getting one as a company car? Back in the game - the sums should look irresistible.
So far, so familiar. What’s it like to drive? Relaxing. Unexpected side-effect: by trying to eke out every last drop without waking up the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine in e-mode you may accidently find yourself driving sensibly – tickling the throttle, conserving momentum, thinking ahead. I found myself arriving at destination without an angry vein popping out my neck. Result. Not a sports car, then? What the Superb does so well is never pretend, even for a nano-second, that’s it’s sporty. OK, there is a Sport mode, which is bothersome, but even when you select that it oozes down the road, smothering speed bumps and potholes and generally isolating you and your passengers from any nastiness going on outside. Build quality is pretty faultless, right down to the (gasp) tasteful fake carbon-fibre trim on our Sportline Plus test car, while the alcantara seats are a joy. This focus on comfort suits a heavy plug-in hybrid, and the patient way it forces you to drive. Even the way it flubbers around in corners in Comfort mode is endearing, a friendly reminder of how comfy the next straight is going to be. What about when you… give it some? Attempt to cram the throttle through the bulkhead and the engine and motor in tandem do a great job of thumping off the line, although any excitement tails off quickly… plus the initial brake bite, as regen blends with friction, could be further finessed. But what did we expect? If I wanted to be excited I would have bought something - anything - other than a Skoda Superb. And who needs excitement when you’ve got this much space? You forget just how palatial this car is in the rear - Rolls Royce amounts of legroom - and everywhere you look there are lights, pockets, sockets, cubbies and an ‘e-manager’ so you can program the car to only charge off-peak. All ideas to make your journey and ownership experience more comfortable. It’s brilliantly thought through. Any other surprises? Biggest surprise of them all is that there’s an estate version (an extra £1,320), and you probably don’t need it. The battery pack under the rear floor and in front of the rear axle eats into boot space a bit (485-litres and 510-litres for the plug-in hatch and estate respectively vs 625-litres and 660-litres in the conventional models), but it’s still enormous. Lift the massive rear hatch, fold the seats down and it’s basically a van. Do the sums, see if plug-in works for you because if it does, the Superb iV is Skoda playing to all its strengths. 8/10
£24,185 – £32,425
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