Skoda injects an electrified version into its Superb range, the first of the company’s iV models to get here. Is the electric premium justifiable?
Like most brands here, Skoda is having a great sales run in 2021. It’s had two record months for retails and it expects to sell some 2000 cars by year’s end. Of course that was before Delta forced us all back into our bubbles and to be kind again. So who knows?
It was during yet another round of go home, stay home that we were sampling the newest Skoda to New Zealand’s shores, the Superb iV. The iV prefix marks it out as being from the Czech’s electrified range, in this case a plug-in hybrid. It’s available here in both wagon and four-door, and in Style and Sportline trims. Pricing kicks off at $71,990 for the Style sedan while the Sportline version is $76,990. The wagons are $74,990 and $79,990, respectively.
Each model is currently eligible for the $5750 plug-in rebate (provided you wrangle the on-road costs for the top model) so they effectively range in price from $66,420 to $74,240. Okay, so still not cheap. The conventional 140kW/320Nm Style TSI wagon is $56,990, the identically specified 160kW/400Nm (read on for the exact powertrain deets) Style iV is $18k more. So thank goodness for the subsidy, bringing its price down to $69,240. Still, that’s a huge premium, but that’s the problem when you have to incorporate two power sources into one car.
The Style variants are more comparable, both being front drivers and despite a power advantage to the plug-in it’s additional weight sees them both rated at 7.7sec to 100km/h. But on the consumption and emissions front, the TSI comes in at 6.5L/100km (148g/km) while the plug-in iV can range as low as 1.7L/100km (40g/km). As the Climate Change minister would say, you need to view a low-emissions lifestyle with more than just the dollars and cents in mind. But it seems there’s a hint of truth to the right’s saying ‘go woke, go broke’.
While the Sportline TSI ($72,990) gains AWD and a 206kW 2.0-litre turbo, the Sportline iV uses the same plug-in powertrain as the Style, so the differences between the hybrid models are all spec related.
But the hybrid’s milkshake should bring more buyers to the Skoda yard, as there are few plug-in hybrid options about, and certainly none with such a voluminous booty. It might be slightly less than the conventional model’s hold due to some rearranged packaging to accommodate a battery (the spare wheel also makes an exit) but there’s still 510L (to the window line) and this expands out to 1131L when you drop the rear seat. This plug-in can even tow up to 1600kg braked.
The hybrid combines a 115kW/250Nm 1.4 turbo with an 85kW/330Nm electric motor mounted within the housing of the six-speed dual-clutch box. There’s a 13kWh (10.4kWh net) lithium-ion battery pack to power the motor. Overall output is rated at 160kW/400Nm. With a 3.4kW onboard charger, Skoda says it’ll take around seven hours to charge when plugged into a traditional home socket, or three hours on a fast AC charger.
Our drive experience in the iV was cut short by the stay-at-home orders, but we still got some time behind the wheel. We managed just short of 40km in EV mode (there are a few hybrid-specific drive modes to fiddle with), the electrics doing all the work, even on the motorway (which accounted for the majority of those 40km). Another 20 or so kays saw the day’s average settle on 1.5L/100km.
We’re having a bit of work done to the house, so we couldn’t plug-in overnight, meaning we set out the next day with an empty battery. So we were rather surprised to get around 50km of commuting completed at an average of 6.2L/100km. That’s because it still operates as a hybrid, with the brake regeneration able to charge the battery just enough to help out continually. One of the many EV-specific menus of the infotainment showed that 51 per cent of the day’s travel was achieved with the engine off.
We quite like how this hybrid operates. In both electric and hybrid mode, the car will usually coast in neutral when you get off the gas to maximise the potential energy of a body in motion. In a TSI Superb, should you tug on the gear lever, you activate Sport mode, but here it triggers the motor regen. So you can play around with that as you please; otherwise just brake as per normal. And these work well with no fouling of the pedal feel from the regenerative system.
There’s reasonable torque from a standstill, and the engine and motor work together harmoniously, switching over seamlessly. And when it does fire into life, the engine is fairly muted, its NVH levels well insulated. The six-speed twin-clutch can be slow on the uptake from the off, but then generally it gets things right.
Our one gripe concerns the digital interior; it’s painfully slow to respond. Prod one of the buttons on the multifunction wheel and the digital instrumentation takes at least two seconds to respond, while the infotainment system too suffers a delay. It’s like the system is short a few semiconductors or something.
Despite the Sportline aesthetic, this Superb is softly sprung for a genuinely pleasant gait about town. It’s a big wagon but light steering, a surround-view camera and a non-horrendous turning circle all ease parking duties. And it’s huge inside, the back seat leg room laughable, the boot wide and long.
This sounds like it might make a good cop car, right? Because of the electrification push by the government, the NZ Police are in the process of evaluating the iV wagon for duty. Among other formal tests, it will be handed to a variety of frontline NZ Police staff from numerous departments in order to generate feedback. It’ll then be put through a final phase of real-world testing, where the model will be fully kitted out and placed on the beat to be tested by police during day-to-day duties.
The evaluation process takes between two and four months to complete, meaning an announcement as to whether the iV will join the local police vehicle fleet should be expected before the end of the year. And also around that time, Skoda will have another iV plug-in landing with the Octavia hybrid…if we ever get out of lockdown that is.
|Model||Skoda Superb iV Sportline|
|Engine||1395cc, IL4, T, |
|Drivetrain||6-speed twin clutch, FWD|