2014 Skoda Superb Estate Outdoor Plus 4×4 2.0 TDI 140PS review – Big Wagon Offers Value For Money

Comfortable, hugely roomy & decently-equipped cabin, massive storage space, good 4×4 system, well-priced

18″ wheels = road noise & firm-feeling ride

Skoda Superb?

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So you think the Superb is but a few years old, correct? Wrong. The original Superb was first brought about and built in Czechoslovakia in 1934 and then made in various guises until its run ended 1949. It was actually a very classy, upmarket car, and throughout World War II they were even used by high-ranking German officers, such as field marshal Erwin Rommel. An interesting brief on the Superb’s early history can be read here.

After the VAG Volkswagen Group bought Skoda out, the first generation started selling in 2001 and was based on a VW Passat chassis. 2008 saw the second generation Superb arrive, and this time Skoda used the Octavia platform. With current Superb is still on its second generation, does Skoda’s flagship model still feel fresh enough, or is it time for a new version? We were sent the 2014 Skoda Superb Estate Outdoor Plus 2.0 TDI 140PS to review and find out…

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

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I like the design of the Superb Estate. There’s something very honest about it. After some lengthy deliberation and walking around the Estate slowly with a cup of coffee, I came to conclusion that it isn’t a handsome car, or particularly interesting to consider either, but there’s a solidity about the thing – like it’ll last the test of time well.

The facelifted front end (done in 2013) is a fairly simple affair, with the highlights being the smart clear light lenses, big vertically-slatted grille and lower valance, which juts out sharply – more so on the Outdoor version. The Superb Estate Outdoor 4×4 gets matt grey plastic protective trim down the side sills, around the wheel arches and on the front and rear bumpers, as well as there being lower silver protective panels.

Personally, this is the version I prefer but each to their own. The test car sent had the 18-inch ‘Trinity’ alloy wheels with fairly low-profile tyres, which look great and add a sporty flavour to the Estate but there’s also a drawback to these which I’ll talk about in the drive section.

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At just over 4.8 metres (190″) in length the Superb is a rather long car, made more obvious when there’s a driver inside to get a scale. The length isn’t really obvious until you come to park it though, and you might want to opt for the rather good Park Assist system (£540) which’ll do the job for you in most cases.

Around to the rear and again there’s nothing much to really talk about. The diagonal creases in the boot lid are about all there is of interest, oh and the rear lights are pretty funky. Again, the Estate version looks better from the back with that lower silver protection plate. In summary, I refer to the first paragraph – the Superb Estate isn’t that interesting from the outside, but it does give off a vibe that it is substantially-built and will be durable. Honest, then.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

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The Superb Estate’s interior is much like the exterior in that its functional, does the job well, but without being showy. It’s not embellished, and there’s zero blingy-ness about it, and a few pieces of satin silver, chrome-edged, or piano black trim is about all you’ll get in the way of that.

The lower models get fabric seats, while the ones higher in the range get leather or Alcantara. If you can afford it, get one with the leather, or option it, as it brings the quality feel of the interior up a couple of notches. While the lower models do look rather dull, the higher ones – like the Elegance and L&K (Laurin & Klement) – look and feel far more luxurious, and can be optioned with things like Ivory coloured leather seats and wood inserts to add a more of an opulent air.

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As the Skoda uses VAG (VW/Audi) parts, the cabin naturally bares a resemblance to its relatives to a large extent, and this is not a bad thing at all. The switchgear and other controls feel well made and have a good action to them, and it all feels well bolted together and durable. Our test car was the Superb Estate Outdoor Plus and was well equipped, but I felt it should have heated seats up front as standard, when they’re actually £200 option. Bit tight of Skoda, that.

While you do get a 5″ touchscreen ‘Amundsen’ satellite navigation system with DAB as standard, ours was spec’d with the £1,235 ‘Columbus’ sat nav, which features a 6.5-inch touch screen, plus a massive 30 GB hard drive. The graphics for the map are slick and it keeps up with you mid-corner, which is important. The rest of the controls below the screen are ergonomic and well-marked, showing again the Superb’s practical side.

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Comfort-wise, the Superb Estate is utterly brilliant. The cabin is airy, and roomy for head, elbow, and leg space. The leather seats up front are deep, supportive, and highly comfortable. Seriously impressive is the absolutely massive legroom for rear passengers, and aside from perhaps the Lexus LS600h L this is one of the roomiest I’ve come across, especially taking into consideration that the Superb isn’t some luxury barge but a humble low-to-mid priced family car. The rear seating is also really comfy, even for the middle passenger, and the backrest inclined at a nice angle.

The Outdoor Plus on test had the optional Panoramic sunroof (£1,070), and in keeping with thee rest of the Superb, it is huge. Not only that, but the front section slides back giving you an almost open-top feel, so large is the area that opens.

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Lift the the Estate’s boot lid, and you’ll be slightly taken aback by the cave-like space inside. The word cavernous is perhaps over-used in the describing of luggage space on cars, but there’s no denying it’s a good word for the Superb Estate’s boot. There’s 633 litres with the rear seats in place, and a whopping 1,865 with them down. You’re not lacking for either horizontal or vertical storage space with this car, and it swallows masses of gear with ease.

As well as that, Skoda have really put some thought into making the Superb Estate as practical and user-friendly as possible, by providing things like rows of heavy-duty hooks each side of the boot that hold your shopping bags, a small self-charging LED light you can pop out and use, a 12-volt socket, large storage compartments each side (depending on spec), a luggage compartment cover that also stops halfway to save having to reach all the way back each time you want to load item in, and finally – open the rear passenger door (same side as front passenger), and inside the door is a compact umbrella. Brilliant idea!

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One thing I thing can be improved about the boot area: to fold flat the rear seats, the base of them has to be pulled out to sit against the front seats, and them you manually pull the rears down. It’d be far quicker and less fussy to have the quick-release type handles in the boot so you don’t have to mess about pulling them down yourself, like some of the Subaru estates have.

All said, the Superb Estate does not off bling or glitz in any way, shape, or form. But there’s also no pretence here – what you see is what you get, and that is an ergonomic dash, durable, well-made switchgear, a roomy cabin, comfortable seating, well thought-out practicality, and a boot that’ll swallow a baby elephant.

Engine and gearbox

Skoda offer a large range of engines with the Superb Estate: three petrols and two diesels, with various power guises. Our Estate Outdoor Plus 4×4 came with the 2.0 litre TDI 140PS, and the 6-speed manual gearbox. This comes with either 170PS or the 140 on the version we had.

The 2.0 litre TDI 140PS, and the 6-speed manual gearbox on the Skoda Superb Estate Outdoor Plus

This is a 2.0 litre, in-line 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine putting out 138 bhp at 4,200 rpm and 236 lb ft (320 Nm) of torque between 1,750 – 2,500 rpm. Official fuel economy stats (UK mpg) for the 6-speed manual version are: urban: 42.8, extra urban: 61.4, combined: 53.3, with 139 g/km CO2.If you get it with the DSG ‘box (not available on the 4×4 unless you get the 170PS model) the economy is slightly better and the emissions lower.

Good fuel economy returns are easily achievable with the Superb diesel, and in light, flowing urban traffic you can average 55+ miles-per-gallon without trouble. Motorway runs saw averages of around 50 mpg, but as always it all depends on factors such as the weather, your driving style, and the road.

0 – 62 mph is done in 10.4 seconds, and it’ll go on to 129 mph at the top end. While that’s reasonable, I’d definitely consider the 170PS with DSG and fuel economy doesn’t suffer much and it benefits from being considerably quicker, and obviously has better power and higher torque.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

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Fire the 2.0 litre TDI engine into, set off driving, and you immediately settle into the Superb Estate 4×4 like you’ve owned it for years. It’s a strangely familiar car to drive, whatever you’ve driven in the past. It’s an easy car to pilot, and by that I mean you’ve got good vision all-round, gear shifts from the manual gearbox are light and precise, and the steering nicely weighted.

In-gear torque comes on strongly, with plenty of low-down punch. Whether you’re using that to heave the Superb Estate 4×4 past a slower car on a country road, or to cleave your way down the outside lane of motorway slip road and get up to speed quickly and safely, you’ll find the 140PS Estate 4×4 does things adequately, and it’s absolutely fine. Distance-driving in the Estate 4×4 is done with ease, and the Skoda swallows up the miles with a relaxed engine at higher speeds, and you and your passengers sat comfortably.

Of course, if you do want more grunt to surprise boy racers from the lights, or simply want more punch just because, go for the more meaty 170PS 7-speed DSG model (it’d be my choice).

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The Superb Estate 4×4 handles nicely and gives a surprisingly rewarding drive, especially once you get it on a run down some fast-flowing lanes with challenging corners, where it feels planted and turns-in superbly well, providing you with dollops of confidence-inspiring grip thanks to the firm and almost sporty suspension setup, 4×4 system, and decently low-profile tyres.

However, low-speed road imperfections and bumps are very noticeable and through the city streets the suspension felt overly firm – perhaps unnecessarily so. The Superb Estate 4×4 isn’t advertised as a sporty car, and I thought the suspension could do with less sports and more supple. The low-profile tyres may have something to do with the ride, but either way it needs to be slightly softer.

Another issue that could be down to those tyres was the road noise coming into the cabin at motorway speeds, which was higher and more discernible than I expected from Skoda’s flagship, luxury model. With the Outdoor Plus 4×4, I’d be sorely temped to replace the 18″ wheels with the 16 or 17 inch versions if they lowered the noise (and softened the ride), even if they don’t look as good. It’s annoying that, as I really like the Superb Estate 4×4, and things like this are a real bugbear when the rest of the car is so good.

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Going back to the 4×4 system, this uses a Haldex clutch and the ESC (Electronic Stability Control), and sends the majority of power to the front wheels under normal circumstances. As soon as the slippage of any wheel is detected, up to 85% of torque can be send it in milliseconds. Even if there’s absolutely no grip at the front, 90% of torque can go to the rears to get you going again. Impressive stuff. You can read more about it on Skoda’s website, and see a skid-pan demonstration here.

All said, the Skoda Superb Estate Outdoor Plus 140PS 4×4 provides a very good all-round drive. The 140 engine gives adequate power and torque, the gear ratios are well set-up for both urban and motorway driving, and you’ll get to your destination is absolute comfort, thanks to the big seats and huge legroom front and rear. While it handles itself well and feel planted around the bends, I wasn’t keen on the firm low-speed ride and road noise coming into the cabin from our Outdoor Plus, although I believe the problem could mainly be down to those 18″ alloys, and replacing them with smaller versions that have fatter tyres could likely ease the issues should it annoy you too.

Price

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(Prices correct Nov. ’14) The Skoda Superb Estate price ranges from £19,815 to £28,760. It’s very fairly priced against the competition, and considering this thing is longer than many, with more legroom, and certainly more room in the boot, you’re onto a winner.

Similarly-priced and sized competition for the non-4×4 Superb Estate includes the Volkswagen Passat Estate, Toyota Avensis Tourer, Honda Accord Tourer, Vauxhall Insignia Tourer, Ford Mondeo Estate, Mazda6 Tourer, Peugeot 508 SW, and Citroen C5 Tourer.

Our Estate Outdoor Plus 140PS 4×4 cost £28k as standard, and almost £32,000 with options. Within the 4×4 estate category (again going on size and similar price) you’re looking at rivals like the Subaru Outback, Vauxhall Insignia Country 4×4 and Peugeot 508 RXH 4×4.

Skoda Superb Estate Outdoor Plus 4×4 2.0 TDI 140PS verdict & score

I rather like the Superb Estate 4×4, but I’ll go through the issues I found. Our Outdoor Plus test car had the 18″ wheels and low-profile tyres, which gave a firm ride and more road noise than I liked. The exterior design isn’t exactly dull but there are more stylish estates out there, put it that way.

Positives include the fact that the Superb Estate 4×4 offers you a comfortable, hugely roomy, and well-equipped cabin, massive storage space, a good range of engines which are fuel-frugal, the benefits of a good all-wheel-drive system which added to the positive driving experience, and finally a very competitive and fair price.

Do you own a Skoda Superb Estate? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  7.5
Interior  7
Engine (TDI 140PS)  8
Gearbox  8
Price  8.5
Handling  8
Drive & Ride  8
AWD  8
Overall Score  8.0 / 10

Read more Skoda reviews here

Specs

Model (as tested)  2014 Skoda Superb Estate Outdoor Plus 4×4 2.0 TDI 140PS
Spec includes  Tinted rear windows, 18″ alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, cornering front fog lights, heated washer nozzles, umbrella in rear door, dual-zone air conditioning, ‘Amundsen’ sat nav system with DAB radio, full leather seating, trailer stability assist, ESL, ABS, MSR, ASR, EDS & HBA, See website for more info
Options you should spec  Park Assist: £540, Rear side airbags: £275
The Competition  Subaru Outback, Vauxhall Insignia Tourer Country 4×4, Peugeot 508 RXH 4×4
Price  (Nov. ’14) £19,815 to £28,760. As tested inc. options: £21,845
Engine  Diesel, 2.0 litre, 4-cylinders in-line, turbocharged
Power, Torque  Power: 138 bhp @ 4,200 rpm | Torque: 236 lb ft (320 Nm) between 1,750 – 2,500 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)  All-Wheel-Drive | 6-speed manual
Ground clearance, Wading depth,  Towing Capacity  Clearance: 141 mm (5.55 inches) | Wading: N/A | Braked towing: 2,000 kg’s (4,409 lbs) on this model
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 129 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 10.4 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 5-stars (2009 model)
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 42.8, Extra urban: 61.4, Combined: 53.3 | CO2: 139 g/km
Weight (kerb)  1,556 kg’s (3,430 lbs)
Websites  Skoda UKSkoda global

Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

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