Fleet News

Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI SE (2008)

Skoda

Review

3

For a market segment that was in the doldrums just two years ago, there’s a new-found level of interest and activity in the upper-medium market.

Ford kicked things off with the new Mondeo, and Renault, Citroën and Mazda have followed suit with the Laguna, C5 and Mazda6 respectively.

And there’s more to come, with SEAT due to launch its Exeo and Vauxhall bringing us the Insignia.

Skoda is muscling in on the action too with its first true upper-medium challenger, the Superb.

But rather than just follow the crowd and launch a ‘safe’ model, Skoda has gone all out with the Superb.

For a start it’s massive – rear legroom is on a par with a luxury saloon, build quality and materials are up there with Volkswagen standards, and there’s an ingenious Twindoor boot arrangement which can be used as either a saloon or a hatchback. It sounds gimmicky, but in practice it works very well.

Skoda has also been bold with the styling, giving the Superb a very distinctive face. In the metallic silver of our test car, the styling looked very awkward, almost three cars in one, but darker colours suit it better.

Inside is some very attractive velour trim on the seats, plus a smattering of familiar Volkswagen Group parts such as the centre ‘infotainment’ screen, buttons and steering column stalks.

It all adds up to that solid, four-square feel that all Volkswagen Group cars have.

Dynamically, it belies its size and copes very well on twisty back roads.

The handling is solid and secure, with a flat cornering stance, the ride is very good thanks to the long wheelbase and weight distribution, while the steering and gearbox actions are light and easy.

But where the Superb excels is in interior space and equipment.

Roomy doesn’t do justice to the cavernous cabin of the Superb, with ample room for six-foot-plus tall rear passengers to sit very comfortably behind a six-foot-plus tall driver.

And there is a lengthy list of standard equipment, too, which makes the Superb very good value for money. 

Standard kit includes automatic lights, seven airbags, air conditioning, fog lights with cornering function, four-spoke leather multi-function steering wheel, an umbrella in the rear door (yes, really), Alcantara upholstery, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloys and a six-CD stereo with touchscreen controls.

That’s a lot of kit and a lot of car for the money. At the front-end the Superb looks like a very strong package, and it looks just as robust in three years’ time (see panel, right).

Strengths

 It’s huge
 Decent to drive
 Running costs
 Twindoor boot
 Well equipped

Weaknesses

 Challenging styling

Three rivals to consider

 Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Edge
 Mazda6 2.0D TS2
 Renault Laguna 2.0 dCi Dynamique
 

P11D Price

The Laguna is the cheapest but offers the least power with 130bhp, while the rest have 140bhp. The Ford and Renault have 16-inch wheels while the others offer 17-inch alloys. The Superb offers cruise control, parking sensors and CD changer as standard.

  • Laguna £18,300
  • Mondeo £18,345
  • Mazda6 £18,455
  • Superb £18,830 
     

Emissions and tax rates

The Mazda offers drivers the lowest benefit-in-kind tax bills, working out at £61 a month for a 20% taxpayer. The Ford and Renault will cost the same driver £67 a month while the Superb is the most expensive at £69 a month thanks to its higher front-end price.

  • Mazda6 147g/km/20%
  • Superb 155g/km/22%
  • Mondeo 156g/km/22%
  • Laguna 158g/km/22% 
     

SMR cost

The Renault edges ahead thanks to 16-inch wheels, which mean cheaper tyre replacement costs, and long 18,000-mile service intervals. The Mondeo will have similar tyre costs but it needs servicing every 12,500 miles, the same interval as the Mazda. The Superb has variable servicing intervals.

ppm/60k total
 

  • Laguna 3.57/£2,142
  • Mondeo 3.94/£2,364
  • Superb 3.95/£2,370
  • Mazda6 4.45 /£2,670 
     

Fuel cost

The Mazda is the only car in this company to reach more than 50mpg, returning a claimed average of 50.4mpg. This equates to a diesel spend of nearly £6,900 over 60,000 miles. The Mondeo and Superb both return 47.9mpg, while the Laguna’s average is 47.1mpg.

  • Mazda6 11.41/£6,846
  • Mondeo 12.00/£7,200
  • Superb 12.00/£7,200
  • Laguna 12.20/£7,320 
     

Depreciation cost

In three years’ time, CAP believes that a used car buyer will be prepared to pay £7,025 (37% of cost new) for a Superb, way ahead of the rest. At the same time, the Mazda will be worth £6,875 (37%), the Mondeo £5,500 (31%) and the Renault £5,550 (30%).

  • Mazda6 19.25/£11,550
  • Superb 19.63/£11,778
  • Laguna 20.41/£12,246
  • Mondeo 21.03/£12,618 
     

Wholelife cost

With the lowest fuel and depreciation costs, the Mazda ekes out a narrow victory over the Skoda. Both are well ahead of the Renault and Ford, which suffer from high depreciation costs. The Skoda performs solidly in all areas, but excels in none.

  • Mazda6 35.11/£21,066
  • Superb 35.58/£21,348
  • Laguna 36.18/£21,708
  • Mondeo 36.97/£22,182 
     

Verdict

With the most expensive running costs, and high tax bills for drivers, the Ford and Renault are the first to be discounted.

The Superb performs well, both on the road and on the balance sheet, and impresses with its sheer size and versatility, but it is the most expensive in benefit-in-kind tax terms.

While it offers some very clever features and a huge amount of space inside, it isn’t as good in all-round terms (styling, driveability) as the Mazda6. With the lowest tax and running cost bills, plus being a very good car to drive, the Mazda6 takes the victory.

 WINNER: Mazda6 2.0d TS2
 

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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