It’s difficult to get a handle on how to categorise Skoda as a brand in Australia. In other parts of the world, Skoda is seen as a cheaper offering from Volkswagen. With the brand’s current range and pricing structure, in the local market, Skoda is a premium offering in its own right.
Nothing demonstrates this more than the 2017 Skoda Superb SportLine. It offers a blend of performance, presentation and high equipment levels to rival the premium German manufacturers.
The Superb SportLine brings a different flavour to the Superb 206TSI. The mechanics are the same, power comes from a 206kW/350Nm four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. A six-speed DSG sends power to all four wheels, as the SportLine utilises a permanent all-wheel-drive system.
All the equipment that makes the Superb 206TSI stand out is still included such as sport suspension, electronically adjustable driver's seat, keyless entry & start, three-zone climate control, LED daytime running lights, fatigue detection and nine airbags to mention a few.
For only $1000 over the standard 206TSI, the SportLine is differentiated on the outside by a series of black embellishments including door mirrors, rear spoiler, grille, side strips, rear diffuser and 19-inch anthracite alloy wheels.
Although this body style is classified as a sedan, in reality, it’s a hatchback. This adds to the car’s character and gives it some extra practicality points while maintaining the exterior silhouette of a sedan. With the addition of what is effectively a black pack, the SportLine does look the part.
It’s the interior of the SportLine that steals the show, it could be referred to as the L.A. Forum because it’s where the magic happens. The cabin is beautiful, both design and presentation are excellent. Quality surface materials have been used to give the cabin a premium atmosphere.
Inside, there is good use of soft touch plastics, a wonderfully sized leather flat bottom steering wheel and an intuitive infotainment system. Undoubtedly the headline act has to be the lovely alcantara inserts on the sports seats and door cards. Alcantara not only looks great but it also offers a wonderful tactile experience. There’s also the comfort factor, it offers all-season comfort that leather can’t match.
Volkswagen’s infotainment unit is top notch, the resolution of the 8-inch screen is excellent and all functions are easily found. There’s also the addition of Apple CarPlay. An inductive smart phone charging pad is included. Unfortunately, iPhones need a special skin to take advantage of this technology and we didn’t have one at the time of this test.
Ultimately, the Superb SportLine’s interior is all class, every surface, switch, button and knob provide a feeling of high build quality and set a great tone.
For a car that can easily accommodate a family of five and their luggage, it’s frustrating that only one USB port has been included. This is an oversight in what is a very compelling interior. At least one port is needed in the rear.
What the Superb does is put an end to the misconception that practicality is the domain of the SUV. There is acres of room in the cabin. Rear legroom is excellent, and cargo capacity is a very handy 625 litres, put the rear seats down and it increases to 1760 litres. The spaciousness of the cabin shames other cars in the segment and those a segment higher for that matter, even those from premium manufacturers.
At 4,861mm long, the Superb is a long car, yet from behind the wheel, the car’s length is masked. It doesn’t feel like a large car to drive, it feels nimble and lightweight.
It’s a car that offers different personalities depending on the road and the mood of the driver. On twisty roads, it grips well when pushed. The ride and handling set up have a sporty feel that’s consistent with the SportLine designation.
Engine performance is strong, providing sprightly acceleration with peak torque becoming available from only 1,700rpm.
The six-speed DSG does a good job, however, it is not as convincing at low speeds as the seven-speed unit found in other cars from the Volkswagen group.
If a relaxing drive is what’s required, the Superb is a remarkably refined car. It can provide a comfortable and very quiet ride during the daily commute through the city or long highway runs.
For a car identified as a SportLine, sometimes it sounds a little too refined, there’s no real engine or exhaust note to get excited about.
The lane assist technology, available as part of the Tech pack is a clever safety feature. It will correct the steering to prevent the driver from unintentionally straying into the next lane. The system works well on the highway.
In a car with so much attention to detail, the absence of a rear wiper is puzzling. Visibility is compromised in heavy rain due to the angle of the rear window and a wiper is as necessary as the umbrella that rests in the door.
We finished the week with a fuel consumption of 9.3L/100km without any significant focus on economic driving, a neat 2.0-litres above the official figure.
Skoda offer transparency in relation to service costs. They also offer service packs that can be can be purchased which cover the SportLine’s maintenance for 3 years/45,000km or 5 years/75,000km, costs for these packs currently sit at $1299 and $2650, respectively.
One area where premium German brands can’t touch Skoda is warranty coverage. All Skoda models are now backed with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Ultimately, what will hurt the Superb SportLine is the price. By selecting a few of the extra packages available, the drive away figure can head north of 60k, well above the $51,990 list price. Those numbers bring less featured 3 Series and C-Class models into play. In a country where badge snobbery is becoming a bit of a national obsession, Skoda may not have the badge cred to do battle with a roundel or three-pointed star.
The 2017 Skoda Superb SportLine is a comprehensive car. It brings a pleasing balance of performance and comfort. It also delivers a premium atmosphere, with a beautifully presented cabin. The practicality aspect of the car proves there is no need for families to compromise on driving enjoyment by moving to the now default choice of family transport in the SUV.
2017 Skoda Superb SportLine Specifications
Price from $51,990, plus on-road costs Engine 2.0L four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol Power 206kW @ 6,500rpm Torque 350Nm @ 1,700 – 5,600rpm Transmission 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 7.3L/100km Tank Capacity 66L Length 4,861mm Width 1,864mm Height 1,468mm Wheelbase 2,841mm Tare Mass 1,600kg Turning circle 11.7m Service Intervals 12-months or 15,000km Warranty five year/unlimited kilometre
Let’s start a Car Conversation, do you agree Skoda is a premium offering in its own right? Does the Superb SportLine provide a compelling enough package to appeal to those wanting a European badge?
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