As a purveyor of opinion about cars, I am not actually supposed to get involved in the selling of them in case it besmirch any reputation I might have by way of fairness, impartiality, and even-handedness, writes Declan Colley
However, when you’re pinned in the corner of a pub by somebody who wants to know exactly your opinion on which of X, Y, or Z cars they should buy, you have to come down on one side or another.
You can faff about and be as vague as you possibly can before eternally condemning Y or Z as rubbish because X is simply such a better motor, but somewhere along the line eternal damnation becomes a matter of course because the punter insists on it being that way. This can of course lead to all sorts of trouble or, in some small few cases, eternal gratitude.
The trouble starts when you advise on one particular car only to have the recipient of such advice come back to you weeks later to say they could have secured a much better deal if they had gone to another (eternally damned) marque because they have just come out with some fantastic sales wheeze which will reduce the cost of their cars substantially.
It might matter little that the marque in question still produces a range of hopeless bangers, but because the punter missed out on a cash deal which could have saved them thousands, the purveyor of opinion — ie me — will forever remain both ends of a useless bastard for having imparted the wrong advice in the first place.
There are other — if fewer — occasions when someone will come back to you demanding they bear your children, so grateful are they for the pearls of wisdom you passed their way.
You can’t win, but I don’t mind that because it is all part of the gig.
What I do mind, however, is not getting a percentage of the action when your words in print and those when you’re stuck in the corner of that pub having the will to live squeezed out of you by someone for whom there is no chance of satisfying, actually result in substantial numbers of cars being sold.
Such has been the case down the years with the Skoda Superb which, since its modern day reincarnation in 2001, has been shaming many rivals with what appears to be a large executive car that sells for family car prices. Indeed, I have long lauded the Skoda ‘more-for-less’ ethos, but the Superb has been a singularly wonderful exemplar of the company’s principles.
So much lauding have I done down the years that I have been responsible for the sale of what must be millions of Superbs — and I haven’t got a damn penny for it. That’s been a bitter pill to swallow, especially when you hear tell of Skoda dealers swanning off to the Cote d’Azur on their Sunseeker motor yachts for a much-needed break from Superb selling.
Such are the vicissitudes of life. Sometimes you just have to wash down those bitter pills with a slug of malt whiskey and thank God for Her generosity in granting you a life unencumbered by Sunseeker motor yachts and not thinking about all the dosh you’d have made even if you had a tiny percentage of accumulated Superb sales.
This week I have to try very hard not to think of all that moolah as I tell you about the latest — flash — version of the Superb, the L&K model. Messrs Lauren and Klement were the guys who founded Skoda and it is appropriate the company now names its flashiest models after them.
This means that apart from the executive size of the car, you’ve got all sorts of executive accoutrements as standard: Leather upholstery, 19” alloys, adaptive suspension, automatically dimming adaptive lights, heated rear seats, and an 8” touchscreen featuring all infotainment and connectivity functions.
From the kicker plates to the automatic rear hatch door, there is an air of exclusivity to the Superb and while normal punters will understandably feel very content with the specification levels on their ‘ordinary’ models, those who plump for the L&K version will feel very special indeed.
The underpinnings of the Superb are familiar enough as it is fitted with the 190 bhp version of the two-litre TDI turbodiesel engine and the DSG auto ‘box. With a sub-eight-second capability for the 0-100km/h dash and a top speed of 234km/h, the Superb is not lacking in grunt, but if you’re giving it stick, it will be a little on the noisy side at the upper end of the rev range.
But I don’t believe buyers of this will be trash-the-ass-off-the-car type of people; rather, they will be those who appreciate the calm, collected, cruising character of the car. The Superb is a truly top drawer machine for long-distance driving. That it is also economic and tax-friendly (4.5 l/100 km and 118 g/km) will further garner support.
It does have to be said that it is not — even with adaptive suspension — a handling match for opponents such as the Mondeo or Passat, but it is not far behind, and still outstrips them in so many others.
Then there is the look of it: This is one excellent looking car. While I must say the black tester would not have been my personal choice as I felt it dulled some of the really neat styling touches on show here, in any other colour the new Superb leaves its predecessor looking drab and does much the same for most of its competition.
A truly excellent contender then and one which will further allow Skoda dealers pile up the profits necessary to keep that Sunseeker motor yacht happily moored in Juan Les Pins.
Yours truly, however, will still be there in the corner of a bartrying to explain to yet another punter that, yes, the Superb comes with two umbrellas and has more legroom in the back than a Merc S-Class and is an all-round good egg of a car.
Will I get any thanks for my efforts? No. Or any material gain? Not a bloody sausage.
There’s gratitude for you.
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