Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Skoda Superb
Stealing the limelight
January 2010

YOU know you’ve made it in the prestige car game when people start stealing badges from your vehicles.

This was the case when we turned up to collect a Skoda Superb to review for a week.

“Sorry about this, but someone’s taken the badge from the Superb, do you still want to test it?’’ the friendly people at Skoda informed us.

The answer was “yes’’. After all, no-one had pilfered the engine, air-conditioning or stereo, so we figured it was still good to go.

The Skoda Superb is a beautiful, mid-sized “liftback’’sedan that is largely unknown to Australian buyers (with the exception of the most astute of car badge criminals).

It has plenty of history though, with the first one built way back in 1934. In those days, it was powered by an eight-cylinder in-line engine and the car weighed a whopping three tonnes.

The first generation ended in 1949 and the second generation began production in 2001. The latest incarnation is the third generation and is the Czech car company’s pride and joy.

In fact, it recently was named Luxury Car of the Year by Top Gear UK, one of Britain’s most respected motoring publications.

Judges had high praise for the Superb, which fended off far more expensive opposition to scoop the title.

We agree that the refinement, quality of the interior, ride and elegant exterior styling make it a real surprise package.

The Superb is not only the most luxurious car Skoda has made, it sets new standards for luxury, practicality, design and value.

Superb is offered in five models, with a wagon variant due to arrive on our shores in the not-too-distant future.

Petrol and diesel engines sourced from VW all have direct fuel injection.

The latest 7-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox), which delivers silky smooth shifting, is fitted to the 1.8 TSI variants, while the TDI and V6 petrol get a 6-speed transmission.

The base model “Ambition’’ 1.8-litre TSI is priced from $42,990 and comes with a host of standard features, including nine airbags, dual zone air conditioning, ESP, quality 6-CD sound system with touch screen and SD memory card, cruise control, tyre pressure monitors, rear parking sensors, fight lights and self-retracting wing mirrors.

The Elegance model ($45,990) has the same engine but adds an array of trinkets, such as electronic driver’s seat, upgraded 10-speaker sound system and high-tech headlights that turn with steering and the spread of light changes depending on speed and weather.

The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine is also available in Ambition trim ($45,990) and Elegance ($48,990).

Top of the range is the Superb Elegance AWD, with 3.6 litre FSI engine, priced from $56,990.

This is getting a bit pricey, but those looking for more performance won’t be disappointed.

The V6 spurs the Skoda from rest to 100km/h in an exhilarating 6.5 seconds and the AWD system ensures excellent road-holding.

Another of the surprises in store for Superb buyers is its space.

Leg room is plentiful and those in the rear can stretch out like they are in a limousine. This feel is accentuated by a five-star interior that oozes luxury.

Able to hold 565 litres, the boot is bigger than a Commodore or Falcon, and the Skoda has a neat trick _ it has a double-hinged tailgate that can open like a normal sedan boot, or like a hatchback.

Packed with style and innovations, the Superb is a classy European that is capable of giving its more distinguished rivals more than a run for their money.

If you get one, just keep an eye on your badges - they’re collector’s items.



ENGINES: 1.8-litre TSI petrol, 2-litre TDI diesel, 3.6 V6 FSI petrol

POWER: 118kW from 4500-6200rpm (TSI), 125kW @ 4200rpm (TDI), 191kW @ 6000rpm (V6)

TORQUE: 250Nm from 1500-4500rpm (TSI), 350Nm from 1750-2500rpm (TDI), 250 from 2500-5000rpm (V6)

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed direct shift gearbox (TDI and V6), 7-speed DSG (TSI)

DRIVE: front-wheel drive (TSI, TDI), all-wheel drive (V6)

FUEL: 98 RON, 60-litre tank

ECONOMY: 8.4 litres/100km (TSI), 6.9 (TDI), 10.2 (V6)

CO2 EMISSIONS (g/km): 200 (TSI), 182 (TDI), 243 (V6), EU 4

KERB WEIGHT: (kg): 1611 (TSI), 1655 (TDI), 1805 (V6)

WHEELS: 17-inch (Elegance), 16-inch (Ambition), 18-inch (V6)

DIMENSIONS (mm): 4838 (l), 1817 (w), 1462 (h), 2761 (wheelbase), 139 (clearance)

PROS: Beautiful, excellent build quality

CONS: Brand not very well known here

BOTTOM LINE: Ambition TSI $42,990; Ambition TDI $45,990; Elegance TSI $45,990; Elegance TDI $48,990; Elegance V6 $56,990.