Skoda Superb 1.4 TSI iV 2019 review
3 December 2019 - autocar
Smooth, refined saloon adopts Passat GTE’s plug-in hybrid powertrain for economy and performance boosts
What is it?
It's an important sign of the times that Skoda reckons its new Superb iV plug-in hybrid (PHEV) will almost immediately account for around 30% of Superb sales in the UK, once deliveries of the saloon and estate models start in January.
The fact that the vast majority of Superbs go to fleets, combined with the news that the new models officially emit less than 40g/km of CO2, makes the iV ideal, statistically speaking, to become a keenly sought business car.
Which is ironic, because it also has impressive credentials as a great choice for private, enthusiast owners. The all-round excellence of other Superb variants is well known; what matters here is the extent to which the PHEV powertrain intrudes into a normal driving experience. The answer? It hardly intrudes at all. In fact, for those who love refinement and smoothness, this parsimonious petrol-electric setup will seem like a big step forward.
Like its close relative, the Volkswagen Passat GTE, the Superb iV is powered by a 154bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that's linked to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with a 115bhp electric motor buried in its innards. Working together, the engine and motor yield distinctly meaty outputs of 215bhp and 295lb ft. Small wonder that the Superb iV has a brisk 0-62mph time of 7.4sec and a top speed of 139mph. In our test car, this lively performance is delivered for a spectacular official combined fuel economy of 156.9mpg and a measly CO2 output of 39g/km.
The presence of a 13kWh battery under the rear seats reduces space for the fuel tank, which now only holds 50 litres, but the combination of 30-35 miles of electric-only range and a generous, hybrid-assisted petrol range means the owner can depend on covering more than 550 miles between refills.
There are four trim levels, with prices starting at £31,970 (for the quite decently equipped SE Technology) and extending to £40,240 for the full-house Laurin & Klement. This looks especially good value beside rivals of the same size and quality.
What's it like?
On the road, the Superb iV will appeal to anyone who appreciates refined, roomy and easy-driving cars. The PHEV powertrain presents no new driving difficulties but contributes a new level of plush progress at low speeds.
The car moves off the mark on electricity and the engine chimes in only after you show it, via the accelerator, how much power you need. Drive normally in the selectable EV mode and it will proceed very quietly. This will suit many owners' drive-to-work applications so well that some will visit a filling station only every month or two. From an ordinary household plug, the car's battery takes about five hours to charge. A wallbox will do it in about half that time.
On a fairly traffic-infested test route in Amsterdam, we turned well over 30 miles before the engine chimed in, and that without trying especially hard to drive frugally. But, of course, there's no need to exhaust your electric power immediately. You can drive the car in Hybrid or Sport modes, which, especially in the latter case, combine engine power with electricity when extra performance is needed.
On the road, the Superb iV is well up to the high standard of its peers. The power delivery swaps between electric and petrol - or combines them - almost seamlessly, aided by the gearbox's smoothness and abundance of ratios.
The steering is accurate and nicely weighted, with hardly a hint of sportiness, and the ride is comfortable and quiet. Skoda has the happy knack of giving its cars a well controlled but supple quality; the kind that hardly ever comes to notice once an owner becomes familiar with the car after a day or two.
What's more, even the base model's interior is well equipped, while the range-topper bristles with gadgets (including the Volkswagen Group's latest infotainment upgrade) and gleams with brightwork.
Should I buy one?
It's hard to argue against the Superb iV. It can save copious amounts of fossil fuel and thus CO2. It's already well proven in body, running gear and powertrain — after all, it's a Passat GTE underneath — and its frugality should suit a whole new tranche of buyers. The purchase price is well placed on the afforability scale, and when it comes time to sell, well-kept Skodas are good at retaining their value.
Over the decades, Skoda has established itself as a builder of reliable and fundamentally sensible cars. And for families, this new Superb iV looks like being the most sensible of the lot.
Skoda Superb 1.4 TSI iV SE Technology DSG specification
Where Amsterdam, Netherlands Price £31,970 On sale Now Engine 4cyls, 1395cc, turbocharged, petrol, plus electric motor Power 154bhp @ 6000rpm (215bhp combined) Torque 295lb ft (combined) Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 1700kg Top speed 139mph 0-62mph 7.4sec Fuel economy 156.9mpg CO2 39g/km Rivals Volkswagen Passat GTE, BMW 530e