Driven - Skoda Superb 125 TDi Wagon

Occasionally a car comes my way which, after I've finished testing it, I think I could happily own. And Skoda's Superb Wagon is one such car. I was really impressed last year by the V6 4WD Superb sedan, so a 2-litre turbodiesel, two-wheel-drive would have a lot to stand up to.

It's not a light car - mainly because it's quite large. How would a 4-cylinder diesel stack up propelling this car around? Fine, is the answer. The deeply impressive engine is shared by many models in the Volkswagen family and it excels in all applications. It's smooth, quiet and has ample grunt - even in this big wagon. Sure, it's not a supercar, but there's plenty enough acceleration available to feel properly sporty - and I wasn't expecting that. The braking, steering and roadholding are similarly good.

The DSG transmission - also shared widely in the Volkswagen group - is also widely acclaimed and whether left in 'auto' mode or shifted via the paddles, operates extremely well. No complaints there.

But a wagon has a specific role to fulfil - as a people and load carrier. You may know that the Superb sedan sits on an extraordinarily long wheelbase, giving limousine-like rear legroom (no, I'm not exaggerating), and the wagon benefits from this. It may not be quite as wide inside as a Commodore wagon, but it's at least as spacious. The boot is decked out with clever storage features unique to Skoda.
Then there's the question of equipment levels. This, tied-in to pricing, is sometimes the difference between a car being competitive in the marketplace or not. Heated seats front AND rear. Airbags galore. Automatic parallel parking. Automatic wipers and lights. Cooled glovebox. Pirelli tyres on 16-inch alloy wheels. There's plenty there.

Then there's Skoda's quality. Sure, some people remember Skodas of old, but these modern cars rate extremely highly. In European and English quality surveys, Skoda outranks both Volkswagen and Audi products - and nobody can claim they're no good.

Unlike the slightly gawky shape of the Superb sedan, the wagon shape sits very comfortably on the long wheelbase. It's an attractive, well balanced machine.

How does it compare to its opposition? A Commodore Sportswagon with the 'economical' 3-litre SIDI engine... a second faster to 100km/h, a lot thirstier (9.2 l/100km as opposed to Skoda's 6.6 l/100km), the Holden has 65kW more, but 60Nm less. Prices - almost on par, to Holden's advantage but the Skoda is better equipped and undeniably better made. And nothing depreciates faster than a Commodore (okay, except a Falcon...). Check Skoda's depreciation levels - the Superb rates better than most cars on the market.

Above and below the model tested, Skoda offers 1.8-litre turbo petrol and the 3.6-litre V6 and all-wheel drive models of the Wagon. The Volkswagen Passat Wagon, Ford Mondeo Wagon and Mazda 6 Wagon, all good cars, less spacious and in a generally similar price range don't add up to as good a car as the Superb, which really is a superb package. The real shame is that hardly anyone will buy one...

Postscript: I was so impressed that I bought a Superb V6 wagon...

Engine type: 2-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 125kW
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: 6-speed DSG
Performance: 0-100km/h 8.9 seconds
Price: $43,990 at time of review
Text & Photo - Paul Blank (copyright)