Fare thee well my dear old friend.
Nine weeks you have been with me. Nine weeks.
For a motoring writer nine weeks with a car is several lifetimes rolled together. Usually you get one week – and that’s it. You have seven days to drive, ruminate, form an opinion and purvey to your readers whether or not it is any good and whether or not they should spend their hard-earned on purchasing one.
But nine, weeks – hell, that’s the equivalent of a marriage of considerable endurance in this game. When you are used to a myriad of brief and often breathless affairs rather then being locked into a one-stop-shop for what appeared to be eternity, it can be hard to figure it out.
But then, there are often times when, having been reduced to a kiss-and-tell as it were, you sometimes wonder ‘what if…?’ What if you had had more time together and been allowed to fully explore the many and pleasurable complexities of the relationship you had enjoyed; would the outcome have been different? Would the unkind words you uttered have been more delicately put or even quite different altogether?
What if the time you had spent in each other’s company not produced such joyous and unforgettable memories, but that the brevity of your relationship had been coloured by those reminiscences to the point where obvious character flaws had been overlooked? Were kind words unnecessarily generous?
And what if your first impressions – so often carelessly overlooked and blinded by either mawkish sentimentality or, on the other hand, downright malevolence – were correct and yet you still stumbled blindly into an avenue pock-marked by remorse, regret and shame.
But enough of the amateur psychology and nut-job proselytizing. No, let us be sensible here. After all it is only a Skoda Superb of which we talk, so let’s be a little bit grounded.
The Superb, of course, is yet another miracle from Mlada Boleslav. The city, which is in Central Bohemia in the Czech Republic, is the HQ of Volkswagen subsidiary Skoda and in the last thirty years or so has completely shed its mind-life commie/utilitarian donkey jacket reputation to become the second-highest profit margin producer in the VW Group – behind only Porsche, no less.
Since 1990, the previously gilt-less manufacturer has produced many miracles – Octavia, Yeti, Kodiaq and many more – many of which were based on cast-offs from the VW parts bin, yet instilled with a level of genius practicality which was not only hugely popular with the masses but were really good motor cars as well.
And the Superb, in many ways – and in spite of its seemingly braggadocio and OTT name, which actually goes back to a car first seen in the 1930s – is the crowing glory of the lot. The modern version of the car was first made in 2001 and since then it has made friends wherever it went.
More importantly perhaps, the Superb has also become one of those rare beasts which is almost completely classless in it appeal. It can comfortably operate as a humble taxi, or as a seismically able repmobiles, or a ridiculously capable family car, or even as an occupant of the MD’s slot in the company car park.
The Superb is now in its third iteration and last May the version we first saw in 2015 was given a fairly transformative facelift and it is that which we have been living in for the past nine weeks. And, when it does eventually come to giving it back, it will indeed seem like there has been a marriage dissolution in the household.
Although when informed by Messrs Skoda Ireland that we should hang on to the car until our current ‘non-essential travel ban’ is lifted, some friends suspected there might be weeping and gnashing of teeth chez Colley at such an unfortunate outcome – “you’ve been left with a Skoda.” Not a bit of it.
As a long-time cheerleader for the model – I reckon that personal recommendations have accounted for a sizeable chunk of sales for which I have received not one brass farthing of recompense, sadly – I was only too glad to have the car, which came in the shape of the 1.5 petrol DSG Sport Line model.
Now the Superb is a very big car – although only built on the same platform as the VW Passat – which seemingly has a footprint only marginally smaller than Croke Park and the choice by Skoda of a 1.5 litre petrol engine to propel it around, might have seemed a little ambitious.
In times past the car was offered with a staple diet of 1.6, 1.8 and two litre petrol and diesels, although the twin turbo 1.4 petrol did come into play for a while. This latter engine, while good and able, was not in the vanguard of terribly efficient small capacity petrol units we are now seeing and in the Superb it was not terribly efficient.
This new 1.5 unit – first seen in the Golf and now ubiquitous across the VW Group’s endeavours – is a beast of a different colour, however. It produces 150 bhp, has a top speed of 216 kph, will make the 100 kph mark from a standstill in 8.9 seconds and still return a consumption figure of 5.3 l/100 km (52.3 mpg). It is also reasonably green, emitting 123 g/km of CO2 for a yearly tax bill of €270.
It is a surprisingly fleet car – especially when you consider engine size versus the amount of metal it is being asked to shift – and although I found the seven speed DSG ‘box at little tentative at moments when alacrity was required, a shift into ‘sport’ mode rectified matters.
On the handling front the Superb was a little on the wafty side – telegraphing its true intended raison d’etre as a motorway mile muncher – but it was tenacious on a B-road, with plenty of grip, decent ride characteristics and a willingness to do as it was bid. In this regard it would leave any SUV looking embarrassed.
The cockpit might not be an example of raging innovation, with the dark décor lending a gloomy air to proceedings, but when you survey – and use – all the tech on offer, you realise just how complete a package it is. That said, the absence of Sat. Nav. on the Sport Line model seemed a glaring omission.
There was hardly a day during my nine – nine – weeks with the Superb that I did not note something positive about the car. From its rakish and sleek good looks to the manner in which it went about its business – and especially the way it went about its business the way you asked it to – this proved itself to be a capable and faithful all-rounder.
We had plenty of time together, to the big Skoda and me. I might not have been married to the Superb – even though it felt like it for a while. But even if it had only been with me for a week, I don’t think my opinion would have been any different; it is still a fantastic car. Fare thee well, old friend, I knew you well.
The Star Rating: * * * *
The Cost: From €30,750 - €41,471 as tested
The Engine: A very credible 12.5 litre petrol turbo
The Specification: One or two holes here and there, but good overall
The Overall Verdict: If not best in class in the D Segment, then damn close to it