The 2019 Isle of Man TT Senior winner loves big engines and old vans. Good lad
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£28,725 when new
What’s this, then? It’s Skoda’s new Rolls-Royce rival, the third-generation Superb. Rolls-Royce rival? Indeed. See, apart from the Phantom and Ghost, the new Superb is - to our knowledge - the only car to secrete not one, but two umbrellas within its doors. It is, quite simply, the most rainproof car you can buy for the cash. If you and a passenger want to stay dry on the walk from driveway to front door, it’s this or a Roller. Helpful. So does the Superb resemble a Rolls in any other way?
Size. Though admittedly not quite of Phantom LWB dimensions, the Superb is vaster than ever before: 3cm longer and 5cm wider than its really-not-very-small predecessor, with more space inside too. It’s customary in reviews of big cars to note there’s ‘room for one six-footer behind another’, but in the Superb you could likely squeeze another in the rear-seat footwell for good measure. It’s truly cavernous inside, a cabin in which you could lose a small child for several weeks. The boot is commensurately vast, too, measuring 1,760 litres with the seats folded. And that’s just the hatch version: the Superb estate arrives in a couple of months to cater to those needing to ferry a family of African elephants on a regular basis. Larger it may be, but the Superb is lighter than its predecessor too. Employing the VW Group’s MQB underpinnings, it has shed some 75kg. So it’s big. Anything else? Big, and stuffed to the rafters with many technologies. Skoda has thrown the full suite of VW Group goodies at the new Superb, offering everything from a tailgate that opens with the waggle of a shoe, through lane- and park-assist to adaptive damping and an on-board telly. Of course you won’t get such lavishness as standard on the base models, but it’s there if you want to splash out. Tell me of engines. All very sensible, for the most part. Diesels start with a 118bhp 1.6 TDI, and rise to a 187bhp iteration of VW’s familiar 2.0-litre turbodiesel. Even that fruitiest diesel officially returns 61mpg and 119g/km of CO2, propelling the Superb to the upper echelons of the little-used road-tax-band-to-wheelbase ratio. Petrols won’t make much of an appearance in the UK, but nonetheless there are plenty available. There’s a 1.4-litre TSI making 123bhp, or a 148bhp version of the same engine equipped with cylinder shut-down, effectively becoming a two-cylinder under light loads. Need more power? There’s a 217bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol, capable of getting from 0-62mph in about seven seconds. Incongruously, but rather pleasingly, you can even have your Superb with four-wheel drive, and the 276bhp 2.0 TSI from the top-spec Seat Leon Cupra. Obviously we had to try this one. And how was it? Rather cheery, in a future-resale-disaster sort of fashion. For such a grand barge, the range-topping Superb hustles along at quite the rate, that hot-hatch engine a better match for the big Skoda than you might expect. Though it’s hardly a feelsome sports-beast, it’ll get round corners without trouble, only belying its sheer length in the fastest, knottiest bends. The six-speed DSG generally does its job immaculately, but occasionally gets into a spot of bother on downshifts. Even so. If, say, you’re looking for an all-weather, family-ferrying alternative to the Audi RS6 on half the budget, this could just fit the bill. But no one will buy that one, will they? No. So how are the Superbs people will actually buy? Equally nice, and rather less resale-disaster-tastic. Though it can’t quite match the (admittedly rather pricier) Mercedes S-Class for unruffled, whispery progress, the Superb does a fair impression of a top-drawer German limo, wafting along serenely and generally making a decent fist of keeping the outside world at bay. Get too enthusiastic and you’ll discover plenty of tyre squeal and not much in the way of feedback, but that’s not really what the Superb’s about. It’s about spiriting away many miles with minimal stress, especially with the (optional) adaptive damping left in its softest mode. On that note, we’d advise steering clear of the biggest alloy options, as we suspect big-wheeled Superbs could tend towards the clunky on bad British roads. How much does it cost? A surprisingly reasonable amount of money for such a lot of car. Despite its dimensional swelling, the new Superb is, spec-for-spec, a fraction cheaper than the outgoing car, with prices starting at £18,640 for the basest petrol, and rising to over £34,000 for the all-the-trimmings 4WD version. Option wisely, and - short of a panel van - there’s not much out there that offers such sheer volume for your cash. That the Superb looks tidy, goes nicely and offers plenty of tech only sweetens the deal. And just think how much you’ll save on annual umbrella expenditure…
£21,235 – £31,010
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