The Škoda Superb has been one of our favourite family cars for many years now, especially the roomy estate version.
The car has been updated since we last towed with a Superb, adding extra safety and convenience systems and tweaking the vehicle’s styling.
There are six petrol and diesel engines available, as well as a choice of front- and four-wheel-drive models, plus a plug-in hybrid. Although falling out of favour, there’s still a place for diesel power, especially if you cover a lot of miles.
We’re testing the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel matched to a DSG auto. This promises a sensible balance between performance and fuel economy. In SE L spec, the Superb is priced at £33,760.
Will the Superb’s mid-life updates keep it at the front of the family car pack?
There are four-wheel-drive versions of the Škoda Superb, and as you can tell from the photos shown here, a 4×4 might have been better suited to the conditions than our front-wheel-drive test car.
However, despite the cold weather and the ill-timed appearance of snowfall, the Superb gave a very good account of itself.
Skoda quotes a range of kerb weights for the Superb Estate 2.0 TDI DSG, from 1620kg to 1820kg. Working form the lower weight gives an 85% match figure of 1377kg. We matched the Superb to a Swift Fairway Classic 590 with a MiRO of 1374kg.
Pulling away up a slight slope that had received a dusting of fresh snow caused the wheels to spin briefly, but once on well-gritted roads, the Superb felt right at home towing a caravan.
The diesel engine has 266lb ft of torque, enough to pull any sensibly matched tourer. We easily reached 60mph on an uphill slip way when joining a dual carriageway.
Once up to speed, the gearbox tended to sit in gear six of seven, and the grumbles from the engine while accelerating were replaced by a quiet hum.
Whenever we were stuck behind slower traffic, the gearbox could be a little hesitant to change down, but pulling back on the gear-lever to move from ‘drive’ to ‘sport’ largely solved this.
There’s also the option of manually overriding the gearbox to choose the right gear, although this is done with the gear-lever rather than paddles behind the steering wheel.
On country roads, even with the winter temperatures hovering around freezing, the Superb was composed and controlled. The suspension set-up is relatively soft, but stops short of being sloppy, and even over a hump-back bridge, we noticed no undue pushing and shoving from the van.
A hill start in such cold weather with front-wheel-drive and summer tyres could have been troublesome, but the Škoda acquitted itself well.
The electronic parking brake held car and caravan on the 1-in-10 slope and released smoothly, and the Superb initially pulled away without any wheelspin.
There was a brief scrabble for grip when the engine reached 2000rpm, but grip was soon restored and the Škoda towed to the top of the hill with no further sign of strain.
On the motorway, the Superb continued to tow in a calm and untroubled manner. The diesel’s mid-range punch made light work of any steep inclines, and the Škoda tracked straight and true. There were one or two very slight movements while overtaking HGVs, but the Superb pulled straight again with no need for steering correction from the driver.
Arrive at your campsite and the Škoda manoeuvres very smoothly. The reversing camera helps to provide a good view when hitching up, and the electrics are mounted on the side of the towbar, clear of the bumper.
If you are seeking an entertaining, sporty drive, you’ll need to look elsewhere. But if you want a comfortable all-rounder that can tackle all kinds of everyday driving, you’ve found it.
The Superb takes rough roads in its stride, thanks to a comfort-first suspension set-up. On bumpy roads, it can feel a little floaty. The likes of the BMW 3 Series and Volkswagen Passat are more controlled.
Press on and the Škoda handles neatly enough, albeit with quite a lot of lean. But this isn’t really the Superb’s forte. It’s more at home stretching its legs on A-roads and motorways, where it’s more than capable of covering long distances in comfort.
A little less road noise at speed would make the Škoda an even more congenial companion on long drives.
Around town, you’re conscious of the Superb’s length, but otherwise it fits welling urban environments, with smooth controls and light steering making for very easy manoeuvres as required.
Space and practicality
Don’t waste your time looking around for a roomier estate car, because you aren’t going to find one anywhere.
Providing a luggage capacity of 660 litres with the rear seats in the upright position, the Superb has even more room for bags than a Mercedes E-Class Estate (640 litres).
There’s a slight load lip to lift items over, and a small step to the floor when the rear seats are folded down.
If that bothers you, a variable height floor will cost £160 – although you can’t have this option and a space-saver spare wheel. Either way, there’s just so much space, you’ll never need to travel light.
Passengers also have lots of room to stretch out, whether they are travelling in the front or the back of the car. The rear legroom in particular is quite exceptional, with more space than you’d find in many more expensive estate cars.
In the front, the Superb provides a comfortable driving position, and there’s enough adjustment to suit both short and tall drivers.
The Skoda’s touchscreen infotainment is surrounded by shortcut buttons to make navigating its menus easier, and the air conditioning is controlled by physical knobs and buttons, which makes any adjustments a lot more straightforward than if it were part of the infotainment.
Buying and owning
The days of Škoda cars being bargain-basement buys are long gone, but the Superb is still good value for money.
The price tag of just under £34,000 is competitive, and research by What Car? magazine shows that discounts of almost £2000 are there for the asking.
Running costs should be low, thanks to the modest group 22E insurance rating, and the excellent fuel economy.
We routinely saw better than 50mpg in everyday driving, and the Superb achieved 29.5mpg while towing a caravan.
SE L spec is one up from the basic SE, and comes with a solid roster of kit. Sat nav, an eight-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and 18-inch alloy wheels are all provided as standard.
There’s a long list of safety equipment, and the added reassurance of a five-star rating from the crash-test experts at Euro NCAP.
If there’s any downside to owning the Škoda, it’s that the car is predicted to hold on to just 40% of the original list price after three years and 36,000 miles.
We would add another word of caution, though. If you are thinking about buying a used Superb, check the VIN plate to be sure it is homologated for towing. Škoda’s price list warns “if a towbar or towbar preparation is not fitted on the car, the VIN plate may not show any towing weight and the car will never be eligible for towing. A such it may not be possible to retrospectively fit a towbar if the car is not fitted with towbar preparation.”
How much will it cost on finance?
You could hire the Superb for £356.74 per month over three years from Lunar vehicle Leasing. There’s an initial rental of £3210.66, with additional fees of £234 to pay. The contract allows for 10,000 miles per year, after which, penalty charges would apply. Maintenance is not included.
It’s been around for a while now, but the Škoda Superb Estate remains one of the best family cars you can buy.
There are sportier vehicles, and more eye-catching designs, but estate cars really don’t come any more practical than the Superb. There is simply so much space for both passengers and luggage – few rivals manage to come close.
You’ll be able to squeeze more bags into the Superb’s boot than you could in just about any other car. Passengers are well cared for, too, with more than enough leg- and headroom for tall adults to make themselves comfortable in the back.
Space and practicality are the Škoda’s stand-out features, but it makes an excellent tow car, too. It’s stable at speed, whether driven on the motorway or on a country road, and the 2.0-litre diesel engine is well suited to towing. Diesel cars may be selling in dwindling numbers, but it’s hard to argue with the car’s performance, or the remarkable 29.5mpg while towing.
In everyday driving, the Škoda will be a very easy car to live with. It’s simple to drive, and comfortable to travel in – it just gets on with whatever task it’s given, without making any fuss.
With a price of over £30,000, the Škoda is good value rather than a bargain. It is well equipped, though, and the excellent fuel economy and low insurance rating will help to keep running costs down. All told, the Superb is a great all-rounder, and a fine tow car.
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A hill start in such cold weather with front-wheel-drive and summer tyres could have been troublesome, but the Škoda acquitted itself well
|Engine Size||1968 cc|
|85% KW||1377 kg|
|Towball Limit||90 kg|
|Maximum Towing Limit||2000 kg|
|Torque||266 lb ft|
|Offical MPG||48.7 mpg|
|Towing MPG||29.5 mpg|