Scout and about - Skoda Superb Scout
Skoda’s Superb versatile wagon is now available in raised and rugged Scout format, packing 200kW and AWD. Does it DIB DIB DIB (do its best)?
Any car maker without a range of SUVs is now either gone or in deep treacle, except perhaps for Ferrari which is a supercar maker in any case. And its upcoming Purosangue SUV isn’t far off, though it won’t be described as such. It’s an FUV (Ferrari Utility Vehicle). Yes, we’re groaning too. Still, the big dog will sport a V12, and that counts for something amongst the faithful.
Moving west, from Italy to the Czech Republic, Skoda has a range of family-oriented high-rise off-roaders, the Kodiaq particularly popular, but there’s also the Karoq and newcomer Kamiq, both of which have laid the foundation for growth.
But not everyone wants a high-rider; some don’t like the same-same styling, generally the antithesis of automotive art, while others cannot come to grips with the fact that elevated height and weight aren’t exactly a great combination for cornering dynamics.
That’s why there are the in-betweeners; not wagons, not SUVs but a bit of both. Skoda has offered a half-way house alternative in the past, in the form of the Octavia Scout, and now they’ve extended this concept to the Superb. So what you’re getting here is a jacked-up wagon - there’s no sedan variant - with AWD (handy for winter passes and ski access roads) that also features an Off-Road (more like Rough Road mode). Skoda explains this is for managing take offs and steep descents and also “supporting traction and braking” which is suitably nebulous.
Being a Scout model, there’s extra plastic cladding, Braga alloys and alu-coloured bumper inserts that hint of bash plates but there’s evidently just a bit more plastic in the way of protective under-gubbins. However, there’s long travel suspension (+15mm) which enhances absorptive abilities on our topsy-turvy roads re-engineered by the passage of heavy trucks. Only it’s tune is comfort oriented, so that can also lead to exciting liftoff roll oversteer moments on occasion, quickly reined in by the ESP system. And there’s a bit of pitching as well, but there’s no argument this offers a most soothing ride.
It’s quiet too, even when you’re giving its 200kW 2.0-litre turbopetrol a bit of a licking. Not that it needs it with peak torque of 350Nm developed from 2000rpm (it’s doing 100 at 1800rpm) and extending through to 5400rpm. But the Sport mode certainly amps things up if you’re feeling in a zoomy mood. No paddles here, just a back-to-front MS gate. We never bothered with it, opting for the Normal or Sport drive modes instead. They’re plenty well sorted.
It’s no sloth this; stick it in Sport mode, stop it up on the brake, and lo, there’s an in-built launch mode, all part and parcel of the new seven-speed twin-clutch transmission.
Let ‘er rip and you’ll repeatedly hit one hundred in around 5.5sec, 0.2sec better than claimed.
It’s every bit as talented on the retardation front too, thanks in no small part to the fitment of Goodyear Eagle F1 rubber. We’ve mentioned in the past how sticky these boots are and ended up with a best emergency stop in the 32m bracket. Not bad given the 235/45R18 complement. That’s up there with some much sportier offerings.
Cleverly (and simply) Skoda has added about the right amount of specification, leaving the way clear for two other tech-laden Sportline models above this, one a 140kW TDI, the other using the same 200kW powertrain as Scout. That gets LED matrix headlamps as standard, but the standard LED lamps on Scout are pretty darn good anyway.
Costing $64,990, you’re getting a whole lot of car for your money. There are a few rather nice unexpected things, and not necessarily Simply Clever items either. Like, for example, the fore and aft power adjusters on the inner aspect of the front passenger backrest. These allow rear seat passengers to move the front seat forward so they can grab stuff that might be in the centre console and otherwise out of reach. We also like that the driver gets a heated wheel, with three different settings, along with standard seat heaters for both front seat passengers. There are the usual handy clever items too, like the umbrella hidden in the passenger door, only it doesn’t seem to rain in New Zealand any more so it’s perhaps surplus to needs. We guess that’s because we’re just east of Australia.
In the cavernous (660L) boot space accessed by a powered fifth door that can open by foot gesture, there are wee Velcro-lined plastic doo-dads to keep things from sliding around on the move. And at the rear a net to keep rascally babies from toppling onto the ground while you’re watching the footy. That is, if it ever gets underway again.
Fancy Alcantara and leather seat coverings with Scout emblems along with puddle lamps, LED ambient lighting and a lengthy list of standard safety items (BSM, active cruise, lane keeping, AEB, drowsiness detection, front and rear sensors) help justify the price.
Other standard spec includes rear privacy glass, split folding release handles in the rear to increase luggage capacity to a whopping 1950L, keyless entry and pushbutton start, sat nav, dual zone air, and a head unit compatibility with both types of smartphone makers. Such is the level of standard fit that there are few options, one being a sliding panoramic sunroof which adds $2500 to the bottom line, and the other being a digital instrument panel (Virtual Cockpit, $1000). We’d not bother given there’s already a digital speed readout as part of the trip computer.
Aside from the simply clever bits and bobs, there are also the clever low-distraction controls up front. You don’t need to fuss around with the large central touch screen to change climate control settings; there are push buttons for that. And the trip computer is a snip too, like most VW Group items, a rotary knob on the wheel boss scrolls through all the relevant info you need. On that, we got mean fuel use in the 7s on the open road, and in the 10s when performance testing, with the claim being 8.1 overall.
So this is a well considered jack of all trades. It does space and luggage, performance, and ride comfort, with acceptable handling and refinement to boot. It will even go down on the farm. And with the midlife styling updates that apply across the Superb range, it even looks rather presentable, which makes it one of the most desirable models from the Czech brand on offer today. Apart from its line-up of SUVs, of course.
Model Skoda Superb Scout Price $64,990
Engine 1984cc, IL4, T/DI, 200kW/350Nm
Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch, all-wheel drive
Vitals 5.44sec 0-100km/h, 8.1L/100km, 183g/km, 1689kg