So, our time with the Superb is up, and
hasn't it flown
? Over the past nine months it has hauled the PH team and, more often than not, an overabundance of our equipment, more than 15,750 miles. From the unrelenting heat of our Le Mans campsite to the rather cooler climes of a
Scottish road trip
, the Skoda has been unfailingly capable and reliable.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine has proven a refreshing alternative to the usual selection of diesels. Putting out 280hp in this installation, the EA888 turbo bestows the Sportline with an impressive turn of pace, should conditions allow, whilst enabling exceptionally smooth progress the rest of the time, and without treading on the toes of the Golf R Estate.
There's been more to the 280 Sportline than speed alone, however. The combination of Haldex all-wheel drive and Dynamic Chassis Control has provided a pleasingly responsive driving experience, particularly for such a large vehicle. The Superb has always felt smaller and easier to place than its size and volume suggest it should; the precise steering and sharp styling belying the car's true stature from inside and out.
We do, of course, have to address the elephant in the Skoda's pachydermally proportioned posterior: its price. At £35,300 as standard - and £40,255 as tested - this iteration is in an entirely different league to the £21,170 entry-level car which shares its name. Preconceptions set firmly aside, though, it sufficiently holds its own, with refinement befitting a car of such an enhanced echelon. From the heated leather and suede seats, to the mileage-dissipating Automatic Cruise Control, via smart touches like the umbrellas hidden in the doors - Rolls-Royce style - everything but the badge suggests a car worthy of its price.
That badge, though, is what makes it so PH-worthy. Not only is it fast, practical and modest right out of the box, but it'll make an incredible bargain for a secondhand buyer
in the classifieds
one day. That's a story for then, though; for now, we have to bid our car farewell.
Heading home to Wales for Christmas was really the perfect opportunity to reflect on the Skoda's breadth of ability. Over the past year the rear seats have found themselves upright about as infrequently as the inhabitants of Love Island but, finally ridden of our Sunday Service gear, the Superb carried its four occupants and their assemblage of luggage and gifts down the M4 in quiet comfort. Once two lanes replaced six, a shift from Comfort to Sport made the journey along the A40 far more entertaining, and upon arrival the Virtual Pedal and variable boot floor made unloading a breeze.
The intention had been to give the Skoda the send off it deserves, with a full valet and wash preceding a farewell photo shoot. Of course, the weather had other plans, and as the Brecon Beacons beckoned a blizzard descended, demonstrating that Haldex is good for more than just
getting off the line
Despite dealing with the conditions easily, no car is immune to the muddy slush such weather precedes. The glimmer of its post-wash paint and sparkle of its clean rims were soon distant memories, but, with another wash sure to be ruined even more quickly, we forged on. This, it turns out, was really the most fitting way to say goodbye to the Superb, highlighting as it does its most endearing characteristic: it just gets on with things.
You never feel the need to pamper it like you would a more premium badged machine, and it never asks you to either. It can be driven quickly, enjoyably, without worrying about consumables - except fuel, perhaps. It can be driven more slowly, comfortably, without fretting that you're wasting its potential. It can be parked outside Lidl without looking brash as easily as it can do the school run without appearing 'budget' - if such things matter to you. It just fits in. The well appointed interior will still take four pairs of muddy wellies - or, with the seats down, a mountain of PH merch - and come out of the encounter unscathed. During its time with us, it has been used variously by many people, all of whom have without fail reported back with surprise at the quality of the car they've experienced.
Does it make any sense as a new purchase? At this price? There'll be much debate around that and almost all of it will centre around the fact that it's a Skoda, because, as a car, yes it absolutely does. As an asset which will depreciate considerably faster than equally priced but alternatively badged rivals, no, it probably doesn't. Whether to buy one, be it new or used, is up to you though. All we can say, is that only a brand as unassuming as Skoda could get away with giving a car such a braggadocious name, but in doing so they've hit the nail on the head; it really is... excellent.
Car: Skoda Superb Estate 280 Sportline
On fleet since: February 2017
List price new: £35,300 (As tested £40,255 comprising £600 for CANTON sound system, £435 for Crew protection assist and rear side airbags, £750 for Dynamic Chassis Control, £350 for front and rear parking sensors, £250 for heated front seats, £765 for integrated tow bar, £45 for ISOFIX on front passenger seat, £150 for LED light package rear, £350 for rear-view parking camera, £90 for rear backrest releases from boot, £100 for temporary space saver spare wheel, £150 for variable boot floor, £600 for Virtual Pedal, £20 for waste bin in door panel and £300 for wireless phone charging with Bluetooth)
Last month at a glance: The Skoda leaves some very roomy boots for its successor to fill!
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