Skoda has an image that leans more towards practical than desirable but it’s an image that has vastly improved over the past decade.
It has taken a while, but Skoda is well established and its appeal is surely in for a lift when the new Kodiaq SUV arrives, while we think the introduction of the Sportline model to the Superb range will help too.
Sportline is much like the R-Line for VW, or S-Line for Audi; a sportier appearance and a few chassis tweaks to help inject a bit more life into otherwise run-of-the-mill models. It works for Audi with a big proportion of cars sold here in S trim, and it’s hoped the effect will rub off on Skoda.
Sportline status is first offered here on the Superb, the model now sitting at the top of the range. It uses the 206kW 2.0-litre turbopetrol with 350Nm on from 1700rpm and matched to the six-speed twin-clutch driving all four wheels when need be. Adding to the conviction of this on-demand set-up is the inclusion of the so-called XDS electronic diff lock for the front axle. It’s essentially better software for the traction control with improved braking applications to the inside front wheel when powering out of tricky turns. This sends more drive torque to the outside wheel which is loaded up thanks to the transfer of weight and so is better able to ground the power and help push the car around the bend.
Driving the Superb Sportline during a period where we had a month’s worth of rain in a week helped prove its benefits. While four-wheel drive can’t alter the grip limits of a tyre, it can improve overall traction, and with the added benefit of the XDS, we could power out of intersections on wet roads with no worry of straying off course. In a similarly powerful Commodore SV6, we would have been floundering.
With the weather breaking for a period, we headed to dry roads to get a real grip on the Sportline, which also adds adaptive dampers to its list of standard fare. The Sportline rides 15mm lower and, set to its most dynamic, the Superb rounds up bends in a quick and undemanding fashion. While the Sportline additions don’t suddenly transform the Superb into a driver’s delight, it does cover ground quickly and in an utterly competent fashion. There’s not a lot of life to the steering but it is consistently weighted and there’s good drive out of the tight bends. And though you get plenty of help from the ESP system to hold your line in faster turns, the system works unobtrusively.
There’s enough power on tap as the Superb may be huge but it’s fairly light considering, at just under 1600kg. The engine really starts to perk up around 2500rpm and the decent midrange is topped off by some nice power up top as it rounds off past 6500rpm. With the standard equipment including active cruise, AEB, active lane keeping and blind spot monitoring, it’s a sound cruiser and reasonably quiet too. It’s said to average 7.1L/100km, but the long term average was registering in the 12s for this car.
At times, the driveline can be a little slow to respond and rather eco-minded around town, though selecting S for the transmission will usually sort that. Apart from the odd laboured take off, the twin-clutch is a good operator but the stop/start system can annoy; it kills the engine often and doesn’t restart as quickly as we’d like.
There is of course an oversupply of interior space, and this Superb still does comfort well too. Plenty of features are to be found onboard including a powered hatch for the enormous cargo hold that’s long, wide and deep, even before invoking the split folding rear seat.
But perhaps the best aspect of the Sportline package for the Superb is the enhanced look by eradicating all the chrome and dropping the ride height on to the racier rims. Inside, the sports seats come with more bolstering but are far from hardcore and are trimmed in a suede-like material which makes an appearance on the door trims too. There are also carbon trim accents, a black headliner, red ambient lighting and a D-shaped wheel
As the sedan (or hatch, however you look at it) the Sportline is $66,990, or $4500 more than the equivalent Style+ model, and the wagon is $69,990.
While the Superb is always going to be bought more with the head than the heart, the Sportline gives it more appeal to the eye, and that has to be a good thing. This Sportline option could work well on Octavia too for those who can’t quite stretch to the RS but like the look.
|Model||Skoda Superb Sportline||Price||$66,990|
|Engine||1984cc, IL4, T/DI, 205kW/350Nm||Drivetrain||6-speed twin-clutch, on-demand AWD|
|Fuel Use||7.1L/100km||C02 Output||159g/km|