A new version of the Skoda Superb has arrived in the UK, and it’s hard not to notice. SportLine trim adds extra kit, and means the usually restrained Superb becomes a sporty-looking family car.
Although SportLine spec is available on most engines in the range (only the 1.6 TDI diesel and lower-powered 1.4 TSI petrol are excluded), the model we tested is the closest thing we’ll see to a Superb vRS diesel, with 188bhp and a healthy 400Nm of torque. Of course, those looking for even more performance can spec the excellent Superb 280, with its 276bhp turbocharged petrol engine. That car can sprint from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds, but this diesel manages the same feat in 7.7 seconds.
“The SportLine upgrades haven’t been overdone; the car looks cool without being too extroverted”
Whichever engine you choose, the SportLine stands out with its tinted windows, a gloss black grille, 19-inch alloys and subtle bodykit. But the styling upgrades haven’t been overdone; it looks cool without being too extroverted, while the lack of a true vRS badge has its own appeal as well.
It gets better from behind the wheel, as the SportLine’s Alcantara seats look and feel great, while the carbon-effect dash inserts and white ambient lighting mean it seems less utilitarian inside than lower-spec Superbs. All cars get a driving mode selector, too, which means you can choose from Eco, Normal and Sport settings. These adjust the steering, throttle and gearbox, allowing you to tailor the driving experience to your desire.
While the Superb SportLine doesn’t have the final degree of handling sharpness you‘d expect of a vRS model, the car’s chassis is already excellent. It’s fun to drive when you want to go quickly, with loads of grip through this car’s 4×4 system, and relatively little roll. The steering could be quicker, but it offers a decent compromise between weight and feel. Take it easy and the car settles into a cruise nicely, with a compliant ride and not too much noise coming into the cabin.
There’s plenty of performance from the 188bhp diesel, and even though the engine sounds gruff and doesn’t have much character, it’s fun to use the torque on offer. From a standstill, the 4×4 system’s traction means it feels genuinely fast, too.
For economy and everyday usability, the diesel is an excellent choice. The performance doesn’t come at a high financial cost, since the car still promises 55.4mpg and emits 135g/km of CO2.
There is a lower-powered version of this engine with 148bhp that claims 60.1 mpg and 12 2g/km, although it’s not available as a 4×4 in SportLine trim. Still, it’s probably a more sensible buy if you don’t need the extra traction.
The DSG automatic gearbox is as good as ever in the Superb SportLine, and is the only option if you want the more powerful diesel. The 148bhp version comes with a six-speed manual as standard, but the DSG suits the car well, offering smooth shifts in auto mode and fast ones when changing manually using the steering wheel paddles. It’s another aspect of the Superb’s great mix of abilities.
Space in the back for passengers is truly excellent, while the Estate offers a 660-litre boot. Even in the hatch back there’s 625 litres of space available, and it’s cheaper to buy, too.
Of course, the other part of the Superb’s appeal is its practicality, which is only magnified in this Estate version. With 660 litres of space, or 1,950 litres with the seats down, this is one of the roomiest cars around. It beats every class rival for volume, and many much larger cars, too. Plus, the space is simple to access and the seats fold down easily; family load-luggers don’t get much better than this.
There’s p lenty of space for passengers as well, with loads of leg and headroom in the back. Tinted windows mean it’s a little dark back there, but the comfortable sports seats up front and neatly designed dash ensure it feels upmarket. The touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use, too.
All SportLine care come with sat-nav and xenon lights, while our car was fitted with optional heated seats, different alloy wheels and a few other choice extras.
Standard kit on the SportLine includes pretty much everything you’d want; 19-inch alloy wheels, sat-nav, xenon lights, parking sensors, Wi-Fi, keyless go and the drive select system. This powerful diesel model costs £ 33,735, which is expensive, but the lower-powered front-wheel-drive diesel weighs in at £30,840. With a 10 per cent deposit, that means it’s around £75 less per month on a PCP finance deal.
Price: £ 33,735
Engine: 2.0-litre, 4cyl, diesel
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch auto, four-wheel drive
Top speed: 142mph
On sale: Now
While there’s no Skoda Superb vRS in the range, this top-spec SportLine model happily fills the void, it’s handsome, fast and good to drive, yet remains efficient and practical. SportLine spec adds loads of kit and a racy look that’s not too outlandish, while the 188bhp diesel with 4WD has plenty of performance, whatever the weather. But unless you need the extra traction, it’s the cheaper 148bh p diesel that we’d spend our money on.