Technology: Prototype testing Skoda Superb: maturity test

Times are changing.

Technology: Prototype testing Skoda Superb: maturity test

Times are changing. In the past, the VW Passat was the classic group alpha animal among the sedans and the Skoda Superb was the Czech relative, which had a lot of space with a very good price-performance ratio, but did not always shine with the latest technology. That's not the case anymore. Since VW is increasingly turning into an electromobility-and-nothing-else group, Skoda has taken over responsibility for the development of the Passat and Skoda brothers. "The Passat is growing and the Superb is maturing," explains Skoda head of development Johanne Neft. After all, the VW group still allows itself such a mid-range vehicle after competitors such as the Renault Talisman, the Opel Insignia and even the Ford Mondeo have disappeared from the scene. And unlike the VW Passat, the Skoda Superb will also be available as a sedan, which will be launched together with the popular station wagon in the second quarter of next year.

We're at the wheel of a fourth-generation Skoda flagship prototype, and what the chief engineer is saying makes more sense with every kilometer we drive. The progress is particularly noticeable with the chassis. The adaptive dampers can now be adjusted in the rebound and compression stages and thus enable finer tuning without diluting the basic orientation, which is more comfortable compared to the Passat. The Skoda Super smoothly cushions bumps and potholes without teetering too much. The dampers also help to minimize the inclination of the body when cornering, although they cannot completely prevent it.

But with a car like the Superb, that's not all that important because, as I said, travel comfort is the top priority and company car drivers in particular will rush to the station wagon. The Czechs have also improved the engines. The 1.5 liter TSI engine has an output of 110 kW / 150 PS and still comes from the EA211 series, but the evo2 development stage. This includes the latest version of cylinder deactivation and mild hybrid module. However, this unit is still not a bundle of temperaments, as our first test drives show.

If you want more fire under the hood, you have to look at the two-liter engines. The 2.0 TSI is available with 150 KW / 204 PS or 195 kW / 265 PS and optional all-wheel drive. The Skoda Superb will again have a plug-in hybrid variant that delivers the familiar performance of 150 kW / 204 hp, but thanks to a battery that has 25.7 kilowatt hours, more than twice the capacity as before (12.7 kWh), it can travel up to 100 kilometers purely electrically. The aerodynamics, which have been improved by up to 12.5 percent, also contribute to this. Incidentally, the part-time electric vehicle is the only model in the new model range that is equipped with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission due to the high torque, while all others have seven gears.

Something has also happened when it comes to charging: the Superb now draws 11 kW of energy into the battery storage system. This is also urgently needed, because the 3.6 kW of the previous model are really no longer up to date. If you plug the Superb into a DC fast charging station, you can even get up to 50 kW. This means that the batteries are filled from zero to 80 percent in 25 minutes. "We can already see that a plug-in hybrid makes sense," explains Johannes Neft, referring to the fact that the PHEV variant is in demand even without funding. This variant is particularly popular in the Netherlands. The Czechs are also staying true to the diesel and thus to the 2.0 liter TDI engine, which they offer in two performance levels: one with 110 kW / 150 hp and the top version with all-wheel drive and 142 kW / 192 hp. The fact that you are sufficiently motorized with these diesel engines does not change with the new Superb, nor does the starting weakness, which is also related to the exhaust gas regulations. After all, the Superb meets the Euro 6e standard.

There's also a lot going on in the interior. "We listened to the customers," says technician Jiri Kucera. The Superb offers massage seats and a new operating concept with fewer analog input elements and a so-called "smart" dial, i.e. a rotary knob that is assigned various functions. These include driving modes, navigation zoom, infotainment volume and air conditioning settings. Since the automatic lever has now moved to the steering wheel column, there are more storage options in the center console. It goes without saying that this is further proof of the tried and tested "Simply Clever" concept for the Skoda managers.

Since we are already on the subject. The Superb may mature, but that doesn't mean it won't grow. After all, the decision-makers at the Czech VW subsidiary would be dusted if they neglected this purchase argument. So the Superb, which has been anything but small so far, has increased by around four centimeters in length and is now a good 4.90 meters. On the back seat, we were pleased to note that the sedan's headroom has increased by twelve millimeters and the station wagon by half a centimetre. The luggage compartment volume is also increasing: it is now 645 liters (plus 20 liters) in the sedan and 690 liters (plus 30 liters) in the Superb Combi. So still smart!