David Motton

See other tow car reviews written by David Motton

The award-winning Škoda Superb promises a lot – can it live up to it? We put this 4x4 estate through its paces to see what tow car ability it has

Overview

We ran this Škoda Superb Estate on the Practical Caravan long-term fleet.

It’s powered by the strongest engine in the diesel line-up, with 187bhp.

Four-wheel drive helps put all that power to the road, while a six-speed DSG auto takes care of gearchanges.

This example is SE L Executive spec, which is close to the top of the range.

We know what tow car talent the Superb has – after all, the hatchback was our overall Tow Car Awards champion last year. Is the 4x4 Estate worth the extra?

Towing

In this specification, the Škoda has most of the features we look for in a tow car.

The engine has plenty of power and torque for towing, and there’s four-wheel drive to make the most of it.

The 4x4 drivetrain makes this model heavier than other Superbs, so matching ratios are more favourable.

And the immense luggage capacity means you don’t have to travel light.

Including 75kg for the driver, which Škoda doesn’t include in its published kerbweights, this Superb weighs 1635kg, which makes for an 85% match figure of 1390kg. That’s well within the legal towing limit of 2200kg.

We matched the Superb to a Swift Expression 586 with a Mass in Running Order of 1325kg.

From the first turn of the wheel, the Škoda felt comfortable with a caravan in tow, quickly pulling up to speed and handling hilly roads with ease.

Once out on the motorway, the Škoda Superb was stable and unflustered at 60mph, and at the test track the car was just as settled at 70mph.

So, this car can handle regular towing with ability to spare – and it doesn’t let its guard down in emergency manoeuvres, either.

The lane-change test was completed without drama, thanks to direct steering and plentiful grip.

Stopping in a hurry wasn’t a problem, with a short 11-metre stopping distance from 30mph, despite wet Tarmac.

The Superb has an electronic parking brake rather than a conventional handbrake, and it held car and caravan still on a 1-in-10 slope.

Once a little throttle was applied, it released smoothly and the car pulled easily to the top of the hill.

Everyday driving

Previous generations of the Superb have been competent and capable in everyday driving, but a little bland.

The latest model is no sports car, but it is more enjoyable to drive on a country road.

The steering is crisp and well weighted, and switching the Driver Mode Selection system to ‘Sport’ adds more heft to the steering, sharpens the throttle and quickens the responses of the gearbox.

Meanwhile, the standard suspension set-up strikes a good balance between comfort and control.

On the motorway the Superb is quiet and comfortable, with little wind, road or engine noise.

The torquey diesel has plenty of muscle in reserve, and the DSG automatic gearbox is responsive.

The length of the car means it needs a decent-sized parking space, but visibility is good.

Space

This is where the Superb has the measure of rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat – it’s absolutely huge inside, and well made.

The Superb gives away little to the Passat in terms of fit and finish, and for those travelling up front, it’s similar in terms of head- and legroom.

There’s plenty of adjustment to the driving position, and we found it comfortable for mile after mile.

It’s in the back that the Superb really outclasses its rivals, with enough rear legroom to keep a basketball player happy.

Air vents between the front seats keep rear-seat passengers warm or cold as required, although the large transmission tunnel does get in the way somewhat, if there are three rear-seat passengers.

The boot is huge, offering 660 litres with the rear seats upright, and 1950 litres with them folded.

Running costs

The list price for this model is £32,690 but, according to What Car?’s research, it should be possible to save more than £2000 by haggling.

As standard on the SE L Executive you get 18in alloys, seven airbags, adaptive cruise control, Bluetooth, sat-nav with an 8in touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, leather-and-Alcantara trim, heated front seats and rear parking sensors.

Running costs should prove keen, with an official combined economy figure of 55.4mpg. While towing we achieved 27.9mpg.

If you sell the Škoda on after three years, What Car? predicts that it will be worth 42% of the original price.

That’s respectable for a mainstream estate car, but some SUVs at this price point hold their value better.

Technical specs

Engine size1968 cc
Kerbweight1635 kg
85% KW1390 kg
Towball limit90 kg
Maximum towing limit2200 kg
Power187.0 bhp
Torque295.0 lb ft
Official MPG55.4 mpg
CO2135 g/km
30-60mph12.0 seconds
30-0mph11.0 m

Verdict

The Škoda Superb is one of the very finest estate cars you can buy.

There is better value lower down the range, but the 190PS diesel 4x4 is an exceptionally able and practical tow car.

Conclusion

Pros

  • A strong, secure and grippy tow car
  • Cabin and boot space are excellent

Cons

  • Other models in the range represent better value for money
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