The key change for Skoda Superb generation three is that the Twin Gate choice of ‘boot’ or ‘hatchback’ opening is no more. As an insider revealed during a wide ranging discussion on the sidelines of the international media launch in Italy, owners rarely used the ‘boot’ option so hatchback only it now is.
The change – compensated for by available electric opening with adjustable height and wave-your-foot hands-free opening linked to keyless entry and start – is accompanied by a complete restyle inside and out, the latest drivelines from parent Volkswagen AG and a heap of new technology in the form of comfort, infotainment and driver aids.
The wheelbase is 80mm longer and front vehicle overhang is 61mm shorter than before. Driver and front seat have 39mm more elbow room and more headroom. The space in the rear is vast. Rear legroom (157mm) is nearly twice as much as the nearest competitor and headroom (980mm) is more than in any other model in the segment. Elbow room in the rear has increased by 69mm. The boot capacity is a record in the segment: at 625 litres, it is 30 litres bigger than in the second generation Superb.
The latest Superb impresses for its quietness, refinement, top materials (very nearly matching those in the new VW Passat), great road manners and excellent build quality.
For a gadget nut like me, it drips with technology by becoming the brand’s first model to offer Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) including Driving Mode Select. Completely new air conditioning, includes for the first time, a new top-version with three zones. The optional electric panoramic glass roof also opens for vent and full sky views and auxiliary heating, heated seats (front and rear), a wireless heated windscreen and heated washer jets are available. The long running VW Group rain/light sensor automatically switches the windscreen wipers on and off and now automatically switches between daytime running light and dipped beam depending on light conditions.
The new Superb also has the newest generation of Park Assist for automatic parking and a rear-view camera for the first time. The park brake is now electric.
It’s not just a modular-based MQB chassis for the new Skoda. It also has four completely new infotainment systems based on the VW group’s modular infotainment matrix technology (MIB). Compared to before, the new generation of equipment is much faster, with consistently high-resolution touchscreen displays and offering more functions and new interfaces.
The top Columbus system (also the name of a once-famous radio brand) has the option of integrated high-speed internet access based on the LTE standard, a first for Škoda.
Smartphone connectivity reaches the Superb for the first time and selected apps can be operated from the infotainment system’s screen. SmartLink includes MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto though availability will depend on country.
The SmartGate interface, developed by Škoda, allows certain vehicle data to be accessed on the user’s own smartphone apps.
The new Media Command app allows the infotainment system to be controlled remotely from the rear seats for the first time. Passengers sitting in the rear of the car can access its functions via their tablet using the new app and wi-fi hotspot built into the Columbus infotainment system.
The 12-speaker Canton sound system has a 610W output.
There are 29 of Skoda’s so called ‘Simply Clever’ features, 23 are in the Superb for the first time and 10 are completely new to the brand.
Alongside both umbrellas in the front doors and new options relating to connectivity and comfort, these include a manually retractable towing device, a tablet holder in the rear, a tablet storage compartment in the ‘jumbo box’ in the front, a USB port and 230 V socket in the rear, single-handed opening for a half-litre bottle and an extra hi-vis vest storage compartment in all four doors. Both of the front and rear doors have space to store a 1.5-litre bottle. The interior’s versatility is increased by the option to fold down the back seats from the boot. The passenger seat can also be folded down. New cargo fasteners secure loose objects in the boot. The car now comes with an ice scraper in the fuel filler flap as standard (already seen in other models like the Octavia). In addition, there are new storage nets on the inside edges of the front seats, a removable LED torch in the boot and misfuel protection.
The new engines offer a maximum of up to 30% lower consumption values and emissions. The GreenLine consumes just 3.7 l/100 km and emits 95g CO2 per km. Alongside engine technology, the reduction in vehicle weight of up to 75kg and the improved aerodynamics also contribute to the low consumption values.
Compared with the second-generation engines, the new powertrains have a power output that is up to 20% higher. The direct-injection turbocharged engines are all based on MQB technology (five TSI petrol, three TDI common-rail diesel). All powertrains meet EU6 emission standards and come with stop-start technology and brake energy recovery as standard. The petrol engines produce between 92 kW (125 PS) and 206 kW (280 PS). The power output of the diesel engines ranges from 88 kW (120 PS) to 140 kW (190 PS).
The enhanced 1.4 TSI/110 kW (150 PS) variant achieves 4.8 l/100 km, corresponding to 112g CO2/km. This is equivalent to a reduction in consumption of 30% compared to the comparable engine of its predecessor and was achieved using active cylinder technology (ACT).
ACT means that the second and third cylinders are temporarily shut down. In two cylinder mode, the engine works under a heavier load with more efficiency. Shutting down and restarting the cylinders is initiated by electro-magnetic actuators. Depending on driving style, the technology can lower consumption by more than 0.5 l/100km. ACT is activated in the speed range between 1,400 and 4,000 rpm, at a torque of between 25 and 100 Nm and speeds of up to 130 km/h. If the driver presses the accelerator pedal hard, both cylinders begin to work again automatically. The cylinder shut-down has no effect on the smooth running of the engine. All mechanical switchover processes take place within one camshaft rotation; depending on engine speed this takes between just 13 and 36 milliseconds. Accompanying interventions in ignition and throttle position smooth the transition.
Also new is a 1.8 TSI/132kW (180PS) engine which develops its maximum power between 4,000 and 6,200 rpm. When coupled with a manual six-speed gearbox, maximum torque of 320 Nm is achieved between 1,450 and 3,900 rpm. Combined with an automatic seven-speed DSG transmission, maximum torque is 250 Nm.
With the exception of the entry-level petrol engine, all powertrains are available with dual-clutch transmissions with either six (wet clutch) or seven speeds (dry). Four powertrains (1.4 TSI/110 kW, 2.0 TSI/206 kW, 2.0 TDI/110 kW and 2.0 TDI/140 kW) are available with all-wheel drive based on the Haldex 5 clutch.
All models have electronic stability control including multi-collision brake. In EU countries, Front Assist with City Emergency Brake, electronic Tyre Pressure Monitoring, seven airbags, five three-point automatic seat belts with fastening alerts and headrests are standard. Rear side airbags are available as an option. XDS+, an enhanced function of the electronic differential lock, also comes as standard. Speed limiter is available as standard from the Ambition trim line upwards and radar cruise control, speed sign readers, lane keep assist and many other driver aids are available.
Traffic Jam Assist, a first for the model and brand, increases safety and comfort in traffic and during stop-and-go. The new Emergency Assist intervenes if the driver becomes incapable of driving, automatically bringing the vehicle to a standstill.
The new Blind Spot Detect system supports the driver in changing lanes safely by detecting any vehicles in the blind spot. A key component of this is the Rear Traffic Alert function, a first for the model and brand. Driver Alert (fatigue detection) prevents the driver from becoming overtired.
Headlights are fitted with halogen technology or with bi-xenon lamps including AFS function and LED daytime running lights. As an option, the high beam can be controlled electronically – via Light Assist or the advanced Smart Light Assist function (masked high beam). Tail lamps are largely LED but cluster design varies by model variant.
The new Superb’s chassis has been redeveloped with MacPherson front struts and multi-link rear axle.
The subframe, mounted centrally on the front axle, provides improved transverse stiffness. In addition to the front axle components, this frame also houses the steering and parts of the engine mount. The coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers are integrated as a unit in the struts. The wheels are guided by the struts and lower wishbones with track stabilising radius rods. The stabiliser has a tubular construction. The spring rate of the stabiliser and the damper controls have been specifically optimised and front track is 39mm wider.
The multi-link rear axle is lighter and performs better than the axle used in the previous models. At the heart of the multi-link axle is the strict separation of longitudinal and transverse stiffness. The soft axle bearing of the trailing arm guarantees a low longitudinal stiffness and improved driving comfort. The new tuning of the track rod bearing results in the vehicle’s steering characteristics. The tubular stabiliser and the shock absorber are attached to the spring link, reducing the forces within the axle.
The torsional stiffness of the new Superb is 13% higher compared to its predecessor. This improvement has been achieved through the increased use of press-hardened components and high-strength steels, which has more than doubled in comparison to the second-generation Superb.