Day one: This car has been out for about five years. There’s a maroon estate in my neighbourhood that I often walk past and think, ‘Well that might be all you need.’ I’ve never driven one though. When they announced a facelifted model I thought I probably should, but then forgot about it for a bit. So here we go then, a test of a five year old car they facelifted ages ago. This is why I don’t work for What Car?
First drive home in the Superb is very cheery. Mind you, I was listening a compilation of Italo Disco music, officially the jauntiest music in the world. That might have something to do with it. The only flaw I could find with the car is that at night there are very bright lights in the footwell I don’t want to see my own feet as I drive along. But wait, on the dashboard menu you can adjust their brightness. I turn it down to a lower setting and don’t have to tolerate the appalling state of my own shoes.
Day two: This Surpeb has an electrically powered tailgate. This morning I have to put something in the boot. When it opens it makes an embarrassingly loud beeping noise. When it closes, it makes a different sort of beeping noise, closes about three inches, detects something non-existent in its path and opens again. Eventually, I evade the neurotic sensors but only by pushing the button and then running away from the car.
A drive from London to Cheshire. The Spuerb proves to be very good at this. Quiet, comfortable, relaxing. The relaxation is promptly undone later in the afternoon when I start clearing some stuff out of our old family home: The idiotic electric boot opens fine but then refuses to close having detected another ghost in its path. Eventually I have to force it by hand. The next time I go to open it, it beeps a bit, but then stays shut. I open it by hand. Then it won’t close again. There is some more beeping. Finally, it shuts. Except the car says it is not shut. I push the button to open it again. There is a beep. Nothing happens. I force it open then push the button to close it. There is a beep. It moves a few inches, beeps and opens again. My brother comes out of the house. ‘What are you doing?’ he asks. I’m losing the will to live, I say. Finally, after lots of opening and closing and a great deal of beeping the tailgate is shut and the car is prepared to accept this fact. It has now gone dark. A short while later my brother goes out to the bin and comes back in. ‘I thought you’d sorted the boot on that car,’ he says. I have, I mutter. ‘Well the boot light is still on…’ A further 15 minutes of motorised titting about, some energetic slamming and at least three kinds of beeping, the boot is closed and the lights are out. The electrically operated bootlid is a £535 option. Even if it wasn’t wildly malfunctioning, I wouldn’t bother.
Day three: A run to the tip – I folded the seats down and put everything into the car through the back doors – and then a drive back to London. The Srupbe really is an excellent cruiser. It has enough grunt, the seats are good and it achieves a nice flat, calm motorway ride. The ride on other roads is good too. It’s not a sporty sort of car but I chucked it around on some backroads anyway and it wasn’t bad. It starts to get a bit messy if you really cane it but at what helmwrights would call ‘eight-tenths’ it can make very brisk, smooth progress.
Day four: I find the Sueprb estate a tremendously handsome car. The only bit that jars is the badge that tells you this is the top model. It reads Laurin & Klement. They were the blokes who founded Skoda. The badge is in a curly and horribly cheesy font. It’s on the seats too. You could avoid this problem by not ordering this spec but you would have to forgo the interior colouring of this car which is a subtle yet excellent shade of brown. Mind you, Laurent Garnier spec is a bit pricey. On balance, I’d save a few quid and do without brown seats.
Day five: I’m not using the Skoda today because I’m going drinking with my mate Norm who is moving to Hong Kong. His name isn’t really Norm. He really is moving to Hong Kong. I know this is of no consequence to you but I thought you should know so you weren’t thinking, ‘Why isn’t he driving the car?’ That’s why.
Day six: Something’s been freaking me out about the Skoda. For two days now I’m certain I’ve opened the electric blind on the massive sunroof and for two days I’ve come back to the car to find the sun blind closed. Sure enough, there’s a menu option for automatic sunblind. Which, if you think about it, is quite clever. You leave the car in strong sunlight, it closes its own blind in case you forget. It might be a VW thing. The Sbuper is based on the Passat. But I’ve never seen it before. And Skoda are quite good at thoughtful stuff. So I’m giving them the credit until I discover otherwise.
Goodbye: Bye bye big Skoda. Just before it’s collected I check the boot. The electric tailgate seems to be working again. I still wouldn’t bother with it. The idiotic beeping and jerking spoils what is otherwise a perfectly sensible, well designed car. It’s not especially exciting but it is practical, comfortable and relaxing. It’s the sort of quietly faithful, friendly, Labradorish car you imagine people would keep for years.
The car talked about here is a Skoda Superb Laurin & Klement 2.0 TDI 170 DSG. It has a 2-litre turbocharged diesel engine making 168bhp. Skoda says it can go from 0-62 in 8.7 seconds and on to 137mph. In this spec it costs £30,995.