Skoda is out to make a statement with its Superb. Be it styling, drive or fuel economy, it is impressive in every way, writes Ashish Masih

Superb by name, superb by size and superb for comfort. The new luxury car from Skoda is about to challenge established rivals and take some sales away from them. At least that’s the plan.

The new Superb is striking to look at, if anything. Unlike the old car that was a plain Jane , the new Superb has a more appealing style quotient.

The face gets attractive-looking wrap around headlamps, which have a sharp edge and upward sweep to them and there are cuts and details on the nose section that look attractive. The lense has Superb etched on it — a classy touch. The windows get chrome framing around them and serve well to make the car more noticeable. The rear looks heavy though and doesn’t seem to gel with the sophisticated looks of the front end. Overall, the car looks more purposeful than the older one.

Though the Superb is shorter than the older car, it still has impressive road presence. But it’s the rival Accord that has a longer wheelbase and overall length.

Look in

Step back and you’ll notice that the new Superb is a hatchback and a saloon. You can open the bootlid alone or open the entire tailgate. And at 565 litres, there’s plenty of space here.

Skoda has also come up with a lighting system that varies its beam pattern according to your speed and driving style. It includes cornering lights and has settings to reduce reflection when driving in the rain or snow.

Step into the cabin, remove the Skoda badges and you could well mistake the Superb for an Audi or Mercedes — yes, quality levels are that impressive.

Skoda seems to have achieved the impossible with the Superb’s cabin — increasing space (as if it needed more) within a shorter wheelbase. There’s enough boot space too. With the seats down, the boot looks more like the hold of a container ship than the boot of a car.

The stylish steering wheel is exceptional; it’s comfortable to hold and the chrome ‘smile’ and Skoda badge make it look nice. The hooded circular gauges add class. All controls on the dashboard are intuitive to use, and the puddle lights inside the cabin go a long way in adding an air of luxury to the cabin.

Another ‘you’ll love it’ feature is the iPhone-like central touchscreen that controls everything from the radio and in-dash CD-changer to the phone and navigation system. It’s much easier to use than BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI (Multi Media Interface) that call for a more complex action of rotating and clicking a dial.

Where the Superb really wows you is in the seating department. You are unlikely to find more comfortable seating anywhere in this class. Both the front and rear seats offer brilliant comfort levels with acres of space. They are supportive and adjustable in every direction. Generous shoulder and under-thigh support ensure that you’re in for a limousine-like experience.

Other niceties include electrically retractable rear sun blinds, footrests for rear passengers and a built-in umbrella plus drainage system in the left-side rear door.

Under the bonnet

It comes as no surprise that the Superb rides comfortably most of the time, keeps road noise to a minimum and drives very tidily too. The 1.8-litre petrol is a turbo-charged direct-injection motor, which delivers 160bhp. This engine is mated to a seven-speed DSG double-clutch automatic gearbox. Performance is brilliant to say the least. It accelerates from zero to 100kph in 9.1 seconds and carries on to 150kph in under 20 seconds. That’s faster than the manual 2.4-litre Accord.

The seven-speed gearbox ensures that you are always in the correct gear to get the best power out of the engine. But the engine feels a bit sluggish at lower rpms, thanks to the turbo-lag. So you will have to downshift into a lower gear to move quickly. The steering is one of the best electronic-mechanical systems we’ve come across and offers plenty of communication.

Skoda has stiffened the Superb’s suspension and as a result the ride is quite firm. But the Superb is agile enough to make a mockery of its size. However, the brake pedal takes some getting used to. The downside to the stiff suspension though, is that the ride is a bit fidgety on surfaces that are less than smooth.

In terms of fuel economy the Superb betters the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry as well. It delivers 8.3kpl in the city and 12.5kpl on the highway.

Overall, if you’re after metal for your money, then the Superb is fantastic value. At an estimated Rs 19.5 lakh, it won’t be cheap. But when you consider the sheer quality and comfort it offers along with the generous equipment and refined engine, it’s hard to build a case against the Superb. This is a big, competent and well-equipped car with a sensible price-tag. What remains to be seen is the resale value, which historically has not been good for Skoda petrols. The diesel Superb will definitely have a better resale value, but the 2.0-litre diesel engine won’t be here for another couple of months.

Technical data

Engine size 1.8 TSI

Price from Rs 19.5 lakh (est)

Power 160bhp

0-100kph 9.1sec

Economy 8.3 (city)/12.5kpl (highway)

20-80kph (in kickdown) 5.76sec