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Skoda Superb review: Still a Superb proposition
IF THERE'S a car brand that appeals to the Singaporean mindset of "cheap and good", it has to be Skoda. That might not be the most appealing pitch for an executive car, but a facelift for the Czech carmaker's Superb drives home how it ekes out maximum value for minimum dollar.
For S$153,900 inclusive of Certificate of Entitlement (COE), you get a European-built fastback that comes with features such as electric memory front seats, a panoramic sunroof, parking assist and adaptive cruise control (ACC).
There's even a front collision alert system that can detect if a wayward pedestrian is about to step in front of your car, and applies the car's brakes automatically so that said pedestrian doesn't go flying into the air and become the subject of the next viral video on Facebook.
You also get a bit more metal for your money over the pre-facelift Superb, literally. Granted it's only an extra 8mm of length in the front bumper, but surely every little bit counts for the penny-pinching Singaporean? What the tiny bit of extra length really shows is the attention to detail that Skoda puts into its products.
Sure enough, Skoda has given the styling an extensive nip-and-tuck, and the result is a car that is fairly reminiscent of the brand's luxury stablemate Audi. The front end in particular, with its large, imposing grille and sharp LED headlights, bears a remarkable resemblance to something out of Ingolstadt. Even the indicator lights sweep outwards in a similar fashion.
At the rear, the most significant change is the bold "SKODA" lettering across the boot lid, and the resulting effect actually makes it look a bit like the Maserati Quattroporte, a car that's over twice the price of the Superb.
More Audi cues can be found inside, with the Superb featuring the glitzy all-digital Virtual Cockpit instrument panel that is borrowed from its Ingolstadt cousins. The rest of the cabin is more Volkswagen however, albeit with the sort of premium quality that wouldn't be out of place in a much more expensive car.
The high-spec Laurin & Klement edition that The Business Times drove featured a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, as well as some "Laurin & Klement" stitching on the leather seats. The label is from the surnames of Skoda's founders, in case you were wondering. In a Czech precursor to the Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce story, Skoda was born when a finance guy decided to back an engineer.
You can save yourself some 15 grand by buying the Ambition variant. Its infotainment system uses an 8.0-inch screen, and it comes without the virtual cockpit, sunroof and ACC, but it retains the core of what makes the Superb such good value for the money, namely a roomy cabin, huge boot and that satisfying air of quality.
The facelifted Superb also has a new engine, with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol supplanting the outgoing model's 1.8-litre unit. The horsepower count has only gone up by 10, but there's now 70 more Newton-metres of torque.
The result is a car that feels a touch more sprightly to drive, with a nicely responsive throttle that helps the Superb make light work of overtaking.
While there's enough acceleration to inject a bit of excitement into things, the Superb is also a supremely comfortable car, with a ride that is soft and supple enough to put babies to sleep. The handling is poised and composed for the most part, but the Superb makes it quite clear that carving corners is not where its priorities lie. Some cars attack corners, but this one shrugs them off.
Nevertheless, it's hard to complain about what this big, beefy Skoda offers for the money. Why settle for cheap and good when you can have cheap and superb?
Skoda Superb 2.0 TSI Laurin & Klement
Engine 1,984cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 190hp at 4,180 to 6,000rpm
Torque 320Nm at 1,500 to 4,180rpm
Gearbox 7-speed twin-clutch automatic
0-100km/h 7.7 seconds
Top Speed 238km/h
Fuel Efficiency 6.3L/100km
Agent Skoda Centre Singapore
Price S$153,900 with COE