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The Warsaw Voice » Society » June 17, 2010
Skoda Superb 1.8 TSI, DSG Platinum
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Premium in All But Name (and Price)
June 17, 2010   
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The Skoda Superb has everything that can be expected from a luxury car. It is safe, comfortable and richly accoutered. It also carries a reasonable price tag. All it lacks for now is prestige.

The Superb is one of the largest models in its class. The 4.83-meter body length gives it a stately appearance, though the profile arouses mixed feelings. From the front, the large “spare ribs” grille, the sharp, pugnacious headlights, and the pushed-back hood lend the car a dynamic, aggressive appearance. The rear is nondescript to the point of tedium. The large flared taillights extend to the fenders and commonplace as they are, happen to be the most appealing feature of the rear of the vehicle. But seen from the side, it is hard to discern any harmony in the proportions of the body. It looks as if someone has tacked a heavy, thickset rear onto a light, dynamic front.

As paradoxical as it sounds, the Superb’s biggest letdown, its styling, is also its biggest plus. The body does have something going for it. The Skoda can be a four-door sedan or five-door liftback as required. Skoda has dubbed this its “twin door” concept. This relies on utilizing two buttons under the trunk, one of which opens the trunk itself and the other the trunk along with the rear window. The trunk capacity is another plus. The Superb’s luggage compartment has a volume of 565 liters, which can be expanded to 1,670 l by folding down the back seats. Not even the largest quantity of baggage should pose any problems.

No medium- or executive-class vehicle can touch Skoda when it comes to passenger cabin room. There is plenty of legroom in the back, even when the front seats are moved back as far as they will go, and there is oodles of headroom.

The dashboard may not be a masterpiece of applied art but it cannot be faulted in terms of readability or ergonomics. The design tends to bring Audi to mind. The finishing materials are of a high standard and no objections can be raised to any individual item in the driver’s compartment. Skoda, part of the Volkswagen corporation, is evidently aiming for the Premium class in the quality stakes. There is no shortage of furnishings to enhance passenger comfort by making driving smoother and safer. The Platinum version comes with a complete set of front, side and curtain airbags and—in what is a first for Skoda—a knee pillow for the driver, as well as all the usual active and passive safety features like ABS/ESP, HHC (a system that makes it easier to start uphill), bixenon headlights, a multifunction steering wheel, and front and rear parking detectors. Traveling comfort is ensured by Climatronic two-zone air-conditioning, an Audio/CD/MP3 system, electrically adjusted front seating, heated front and rear seating, and suede leather upholstery. The folding umbrella cleverly concealed in the rear door and the footrest fixed to the rug with velcro are further evidence of an exceptional concern for passenger comfort. What is optional elsewhere is stock standard in the Platinum version. And it costs just under zl.120,000.

The test-drive model had a 1.8 l direct-injection turbo-charged gasoline engine under the hood. The engine handled the nearly 1,500 kg vehicle exceptionally well. The turbocharger gives the engine an instantaneous power hit, whatever the revs. The car can accelerate to 100 kph in 8.5 seconds and has a top speed in excess of 200 kph. A further advantage is the fuel economy of the engine, at approximately 8.5 l/100 km on average during the test-drive. The drive transfer to the front wheels is amazing—thanks to a double-clutch transmission and a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. And all this is made possible by just 160 hp. In fact, the engine is so dynamic as to give the impression of a 200 hp unit lurking under the hood.

Most Premium brands have been working on their image for decades. Skoda had admittedly been manufacturing its flagship Superb brand before World War II but the “communist interregnum” lasted a bit too long for it to keep positioning itself as a luxury vehicle. Today’s model has had to reposition itself as the company’s flagship luxury vehicle from scratch. And it shows. There can be no doubt that in terms of technology, comfort and the quality of its materials, the Superb is a Premium model in all but name. All that is needed is a little time for customers to catch on. Owning a Superb may be a status symbol sooner than we think.
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