Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Hatch makes uncommon sense

IF you eliminate ego when it comes to new car buying — particularly where men are concerned — what are you left with?

Common sense is the answer. But as any car sales person will probably tell you, common sense alone does not sell cars.

So you are more than likely to be looking at a smartly seductive SUV (sport utility vehicle) with all the latest gadgets than a sensible saloon or hatchback car.

And yet, this week’s drive proves that you can have it all — good clean lines, lots of space, comfortable ride and economy — in a sensibly and sympathetically designed large hatchback.

But not only that — and this will interest those who traded in their bog standard two-wheel drive for a chunky four-wheel drive vehicle after the last winter snowfall — the Škoda Superb Executive Hatch I have been driving also had four-wheel drive.

Available in hatch and estate forms, the Škoda Superb comes with four engine choices and the additional option of DSG automatic and 4x4 transmissions on selected models.

I had it all because not only was the test car very comfortable, it had huge space available — a cavernous boot, for instance, and the boot lid is electrically operated, plus lots of upfront power.

While on the subject of boot space: the Superb’s boot measures 625 litres, expanding to a massive 1,760 litres with the rear seat backs folded.

Estate versions offer a length of 4,856mm and a boot capacity of 660 litres, expandable to a gigantic 1,950 litres with the rear seats folded down.

The UK range features six trim levels: S, SE, SE L Executive (the car I have been driving), SportLine, SportLine Plus and Laurin and Klement.

Each level offers higher specification and equipment levels than comparable models in the previous model line-up.

The Superb’s engine range comprises two TSI petrol and two TDI diesel units, with the most powerful being the 2.0 TSI engine.

The 1.5 TSI 150PS engine features ACT cylinder deactivation — a system that further improves economy and reduces CO2 emissions.

The test car’s engine was the most powerful diesel engine in the range, the 2.0 TDI 190PS. Together with a seven-speed DSG as standard, and with four-wheel drive this Superb was well named.

Whatever your preferences where manual or automatic gearboxes are concerned, I would thoroughly recommend the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG).

The DSG automatically adapts to the driver’s style while taking into account road conditions. In other words, it reduces driving stress by deciding when to change gear.

But you get none of the jolt or “lag” of automatic transmissions of the past, so the DSG box comes as a revelation to any modern-day driver (even those hell bent on sticking with a manual box).

The advanced MIB colour touchscreen infotainment systems (featuring screens up to 9.2 inches with the Columbus system) provide the driver with information.

Features include the new tri-zone climate control and LED ambient lighting in a choice of three colours.

The Superb, says Škoda, offers state-of-the-art connectivity. Škoda Connect comprises two categories:

• Infotainment Online services provide additional information such as weather reports and parking space availability, along with real-time navigation details.

• Care Connect provides remote access as well as assistance.

A year’s subscription to Infotainment Online is available as an option on models equipped with Amundsen and Columbus infotainment systems.

Interestingly, because the Škoda Superb shouts space, the name was inspired by the Latin word for “superbus” — meaning “proud’ or “stately” — and the first model to bear the Superb badge first appeared 1934.

Of all the modern car manufacturers, it has to be said that Škoda has come a long way since the Thirties, including overcoming the stigma of a badge name that was in the past derided.

But for my money, a modern Škoda is a good buy. Whatever model, but if you like space, comfort (and grace, too) then the Superb is well worth consideration.

Fact file

Škoda Superb SE L Executive Hatch 2.0 TDI 190PS DSG 4x4

Total cost of test car (including options): £35,170

Combined economy: 44.8mpg

Emissions: 135 g/km

Increase in standard equipment and technology across range

Four engines available

• Available in hatch and estate forms

Luggage capacity up to 1,950 litres


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