Car names create expectations. For instance, buy a Renault Espace and you anticipate bags of room while the Toyota Land Cruiser conjures up visions of a very capable vehicle on and off the road. Both these examples easily live up to their names.
Naming a vehicle can be a tricky exercise though, as Mitsubishi knows all too well with its Charisma, which sadly didn’t have any.
Understandably other manufacturers like BMW and Peugeot steer well clear instead sticking to numbers – perhaps a safer bet.
And so to the Skoda Superb. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘superb’ as excellent, magnificent or splendid. Skoda owner Volkswagen also owns Bentley so perhaps this choice of name should have been reserved for its most prestigious marque…
However, this top-of-the-range, and most expensive, Skoda is its luxury hatchback saloon limousine aimed at the wiser chauffeured executive.
As with crafting an article it’s necessary for car manufacturers to set themselves apart from the competition and so the Superb has two key points of interest. Starting with the boot, push one button underneath the boot rim and the boot lid opens like a saloon, push another and the whole tailgate rises like a hatchback. This makes it a very user-friendly vehicle for most kinds of loads.
Other neat and perhaps even ‘superb’ touches include the concealed umbrella in the left-hand rear door to help executives tackle the British climate. A similar feature can be found in a Rolls Royce costing five times as much. There is also the option of Park Assist – a function for making the Superb park itself. It could benefit from a wiper on the rear windscreen because it does get a bit mucky.
Perhaps the marketing team, during their brainstorming, felt that Superb aptly referred to Skoda’s 1.4-litre engine that powers the base model and delivers more than adequate performance.
However, the sprightly 1.8 TSi tested really does feel more like a two-litre although when changing down from sixth to fourth and then accelerating back up there can be a small delay. But this can be overcome with a bit of revving. The six-speed manual box is decisive and reliable. It all adds to the driving experience, which as with all Skodas is generally smooth, particularly at speed. The Superb holds the road well and corners with aplomb.
A well-appointed vehicle, virtually all functions are electrically operated and the black leather interior is comfortable although the front seats could benefit from additional padding in the lower lumbar region.
Bearing in mind that the Superb falls in to Audi A6 and BMW 5-series territory its exterior is more of an acquired taste, reminding me a little of the Volkswagen Passat with which it shares its chassis. It looks similar to the Seat Exeo, too.
Parkers, the car experts, write: “Skoda has pulled out all the stops for the Superb – the biggest and most expensive model in the range. It gets a wide range of modern engines and gearboxes, has limousine levels of legroom inside and is very well equipped. Comfortable and refined on the move it’s also great value with generous levels of standard equipment.”
So perhaps Skoda was justified in calling this model Superb after all…
Skoda Superb 1.8-litre TSi
New price range: £17,675 – £31,725
Top speed: 137mph