The Skoda Superb is hugely spacious, well-built, generously equipped, handsome but understated and still good value, to the point where it’s hard to make a case for needing anything else.
However, it’s never gained the kind of popularity it deserves, especially in our market. Now, the Czech manufacturer has expanded the Superb range further with the addition of this 4x4 model in European markets. If it makes it to our shores, this four-wheel drive saloon will make for a great family car. Available in a number of specifications, there is now a 2.0-litre TSI unit pumping out a sizeable 280 horsepower. That makes it the most powerful production Skoda to date, even though it doesn’t wear the high-performance vRS badge.
From the outside, the Superb 4x4 is almost indistinguishable from the standard car, and in many ways this is a good thing. Skoda doesn’t do flash, instead catering to buyers who want something handsome and of good taste, but discreetly so. There are small 4x4 badges but even those are really subtle, so the guy you destroy away from the traffic lights won’t have a clue how you managed it.
In many ways the Superb 4x4 is the ultimate expression of the current Skoda brand. It does what it does exceptionally well, better than more obvious rivals, but doesn’t shout about it and there’s a lot to like about that kind of approach.
The Superb is unquestionably vast inside. Even up front where most cars of this size are generously proportioned, the Superb offers more space than you could possibly need. With the front seats shoved as far back as they will go there’s still stacks of room in the rear. Kids won’t even be able to reach the seat backs with their feet and adults will never grumble at being made to sit in the second row. Add to that a boot that will accommodate any remaining family members and you have a car that isn’t MPV-shaped but will perform almost as many swallowing tricks.
As with the exterior there’s nothing inside that gives away the Superb’s Mr Hyde side. You get the same well-equipped but unfussy cabin, with a big clear central screen and logical climate controls that make you wonder why everyone else doesn’t do it this way.
With the seven-speed DSG gearbox hooked up to the 2.0-litre engine it’s also completely fuss-free in ordinary driving. Slot the lever into D and cruise, the petrol unit being hushed and offering generous torque at low revs, making useful progress just a matter of easing on the accelerator.
There’s nothing performance-biased about the comfort levels either. The Superb 4x4 is happy to soak up road imperfections and stays unflustered whilst doing so, regardless of whether you’re just cruising or pressing on a little.
You’ll soon want to make the most of the performance, though. Like a latter-day Bentley Turbo R, the Superb 4x4 mixes utterly hilarious acceleration with big saloon comfort and space, in a combination you never really thought possible. With the DSG juggling ratios you can easily hit the sweet spot of torque and the four-wheel drive system will rocket to 100kph from rest in under six seconds. It’s a divine madness for sure.
This is a relatively expensive Skoda in the grand scheme of things; the most expensive Skoda you can buy in fact, but then this is a Skoda with a unique set of abilities. As the range-topping model it is also loaded to the roof with kit and the options list is brief. You get 18in alloy wheels, heated seats front and rear, keyless entry and start, that big touchscreen with sat-nav, and pleasing touches such as the LED interior-lighting package and upgraded audio system.
The Superb in any form makes a lot of sense, but the Super 4x4 is possibly the best all-weather, all-circumstances ground-covering device at any price. You can stuff five people and tons of luggage into it and blast across country in complete comfort and security — something which no other saloon could do in quite the same combination and yet be as easy to live with as a Fabia, and discreet enough to be left parked on the street overnight.