What is it about a big volume, V6 Engine that gets your adrenalin pumping even as you get into the driver’s seat? It’s probably the knowledge of the amount of power available at the disposal of the right foot. And that’s exactly what we were aching for, when we decided to test the Skoda Superb's V6 engine.
I always loved the last generation Superb simply for the amount of interior space it offered at its price - something which even the Mercedes C Class with a higher price tag couldn't match. Skoda have now done one better by increasing the dimensions on the new 2009 Superb (although wheelbase is slightly reduced). The rear legroom also is more than the previous version.
The one feature that was missing on the older version, however, was an engine capable of generating some real power. In has come the 3.6 litre V6 which produces a cool 260 horses and 350NM torque and is capable of achieving a top speed of around 250 kmph. This makes the New Superb a perfect blend of Style and Luxury with Performance and Safety. It’s a real head turner and I'm sure anyone spending close to 30 Lac for it would want that. So, let’s review the car one aspect at a time.
The current generation Superb is a really good looking car, unlike the previous predominantly squared design. Unless you knew your cars well, many a person could not distinguish a Superb from a Laura or an Octavia. The New Superb has loads of curves (though the front, barring the lights and metallic inserts, still looks like it shares a few design cues from the New Laura) and looks simply delicious and unique, especially from the rear. The car is really long and the long bonnet and steep windscreen rake gives it a sports car-like appearance.
The V6 is equipped with 225/45 17” low profile tyres - unlike the 205/55 16” ones on the other trims. Tread noise on the 17” Pirellis is pretty low even at high speeds. The V6’s wheels also have a slightly different design. It is one of the few ways to distinguish the V6 from the other trims, along with the 4 exhausts. Or of course, if you lift the hood you have the V6 badge staring up at you.
Another key exclusive is the Platin Grey colour, which is there only for the V6. Sadly, there is no badge anywhere that says ‘don’t mess with me, I have a powerful V6 below the hood’ - and that is something I don’t like. If I’m spending a good 7 Lac more for the V6, I want people to easily notice the difference.
The New Superb has Automatic Bi-Xenon Cornering – a technology which illuminates the direction in which the car is going to turn by sensing the car’s speed and steering input – and lights which are supremely bright. The name 'Superb' has been put on the lights as well. Also provided are Retractable Washers for the headlights. The wipers have an Automatic Rain Sensing feature that starts automatically when it starts drizzling - we couldn't test this feature though, no rains!
The Boot has an integrated spoiler and opens in two different manners. You could open it like a Sedan or if the size of the load is large then it also opens like a liftback (like on the Octavia). Boot space is an amazing 565 litres which expands to over 1600 litres when the rear seats are folded down. Closing the boot is also automatic and you simply need to softly push it down.
Indicators are integrated in the OVRMs which are Electrically Adjustable along with having the ability to fold electrically too. Metallic Inserts on the Front Grill and Bumper add an elegant touch and distinguish it from the ones on the Laura. The Parktronics feature (4 sensors at the front and rear of the car) is simple to understand and use and it enables the car to be accurately and easily maneuvered into tight spaces.The windows can be rolled up or down by the key itself. You could also open only the boot or only the driver’s side door if you do not wish to unlock all the other doors.
The interiors of the New Superb come in a beautiful combination of shades of Beige and Black. The wood and metallic inserts gives it a super luxury feel – it’s one of the things I love on the Skodas - and make you want to keep staring at them. The smile on the steering automatically tends to creep its way onto your face.
The Seats are large and covered with good quality Ivory Nappa Leather. There is plenty of room up front for the Driver and the Passenger, and elbows and knees have plenty of place. The Driver and Passenger seats have a 12 Way Electric Adjustment and the Lumbar support is very good. The driver’s side also has 3 programmable memory options which also set the OVRM's position along with the seat setting. The OVRM can also be programmed to automatically lower while reversing.
But few words can describe the amount of room that the Superb offers at the rear, and it’s something a lot of other luxury cars with much higher price tags will find it hard to match. The rear armrest is also large and has retractable cup holders in it. The passengers are treated to sheer luxury and also have foot rests for added comfort. Behind the front armrest there is a clock, outside air temperature display (readings of which are taken from the driver's display) and a 12V accessory socket. There are also blinds in built in the rear doors and at the back which can be pulled up to block out the sun.
The audio System has an inbuilt 2 DIN, 6 CD Changer with Touch Screen. It also plays SD / MMC Cards along with an AUX input which is placed in the front armrest. The system can be controlled via buttons on the steering wheel. The Display also shows the Parktronics display along with temperature settings for the Aircon. There is also a facility to sync your phone via Bluetooth to it though we were told that this feature was not active on our car. Sound quality was clear even at high volumes.
The Steering is large and meaty having nice thumb recesses and is adjustable for reach and rake. Pedal shifters to change gears manually are provided behind it. The left stalk has the indicators and the knobs to set the cruise control. The right controls the High/Low beam setting and the 7 Speed wipers.
The Multi Function Display which is controlled by a scroll button on the steering wheel is one of the best that you get. You can check Trip Distance, Time Taken, Average Speed, Fuel Economy and Instantaneous Fuel Economy (which has very little time lag and helps you get the best possible mileage out of the car). The Display shows the time, current gear, odometer, trip meter and even speed in mph. You can even set a warning tone to sound if you exceed a particular speed. It can tell you which door or if the Bonnet or the Boot is open. It also gives you a low fuel warning and reminds you when a service is due. The speedo is calibrated to distinguish speeds upto 5 kmph upto 180 kmph after which each interval increases to 10 kmph. The white backlighting adds a touch of elegance.
The automatic Dual AC (Driver and Passenger can set their own temperatures!) is powerful and cools well. The temperature setting works well and keeps the cabin comfortable. There is a vent to direct the AC air into the glove box to cool it. There are also AC vents on the B Pillars for the rear passengers.
The Lights (like on all other Skodas) are operated via a knob to the right of the steering wheel. There is a setting to operate it on Auto mode where the lights come on automatically when you enter a tunnel or it gets late in the evening.
The gear knob fits nicely in your entire palm and you don't feel like letting go. The V6's knob has 4x4 Engraved on it. Doors lock automatically on reaching 20 kmph and the seatbelt not worn buzzer starts, if either the driver or the passenger is not wearing the seat belts.There is also a Skoda umbrella provided (à la the Rolls Royce Phantom) and it has a convenient storage location in the left rear door.
Vanity Mirrors are present on both Driver and Passenger Side and Lights come on when you open them. Safety features are loaded by the dozen on this car. There are 8 Airbags to protect the occupants, including 2 Front airbags, 2 Side Airbags, Curtain Airbags and even Airbags to protect the knee in case of a collision. Apart from that there is ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), ASR (Anti Slip Regulation), TCS (Traction Control System), EDL (Electronic Differential Lock), ESP (Electronic Stability Program), HHC (Hill Hold Control), TPM (Tyre Pressure Monitoring), Active Head Restraints etc. The list just goes on.
Cabin Lighting provided seems like it is taken straight off a jet liner and the entire floor area and Door Side have diffused lighting. Lights are also present on the underside of the OVRM's and the Doors.
The New Superb V6 is equipped with 17” Low profile tyres which don’t really compromise on low speed ride comfort, though hit a pothole and you are sure going to feel it. However it really comes into its own as the speed increases. We did a flat out left hander at over 200 kmph and the car held its line perfectly, never feeling like it was about to let go. That speaks loads about the car’s balance and handling.
The only grouch I had was through tight corners. It is very difficult to carry speed through them, probably because of the weight of the car. The tyres screech and she feels totally out of place. Still, the ESP and TCS do their job well.
The New Superb uses McPherson suspension with lower triangular links and torsion stabilizer at the front and Multi-element Axle with torsion stabilizer at the rear. Suspension is set up very well. Bumps and uneven roads are barely noticeable. Even when the road sharply drops, the rear passengers do not feel it too much.
The Power steering works well at low speed and makes the car very maneuverable in traffic.
Braking is smooth and progressive and stops the car in no time. The Disc brakes do a good job considering it is quite a heavy car. It takes barely 4 seconds to get her to a halt from 100 kmph. However they take a little while to get used to at low speeds. Hit them slightly hard and the car stops like you have just hit a brick wall. Wheelbase is just 139mm (as compared to 159mm on the other trims) - hit a bad stretch of roads at high speeds and the car bottoms out easily.
260 BHP and 350 NM of torque already says enough for the performance that one can expect from this car. You can easily reach and cruise at over 200 kmph and the engine will not feel strained at all. We reached a top speed of about 238 kmph before unfortunately we had to let go off the throttle. Top speed claimed is about 250 kmph and by the way it was going, I’m sure given a little more time we would have gotten there easily.
The Superb uses a fourth generation Haldex Clutch system which powers the front wheels under normal driving conditions and if there is slight loss of control, power is shifted to the rear wheels. This offers good grip and safety when things get tricky.
The car has an excellent 6 Speed Auto Transmission DSG gearbox (though we would have loved the 7 Speed DSG that does duty on the 1.8 TSI to have been on there). To conserve fuel the DSG quickly shifts up a gear, and the minute you apply more pedal pressure it shifts back down, so there are a lot of gear changes continuously happening. In normal times the gear shifts up for every additional 10 kmph of speed gained - it changes from 1st to 2nd at 10kmph, to 3rd at 20 kmph, 4th at 30 kmph and so on. Deceleration and shifting down of gears is also the same way.
Shifts are smooth (though you can feel it at times) and the DSG box can perform shifts in about 8 milliseconds. This makes going through the gears and fast acceleration a lot simpler.
Acceleration of the Skoda Superb is tremendous. Dab the throttle and she shoots forward. Overtaking is an absolute breeze. If there is a gap, all you need to do is aim for it and floor the throttle, and you’ll make it there before you even know it. Unsuspecting people get quite a surprise at traffic signals when the car just darts forward and disappears from sight. At the Sanpada signal in Mumbai, by the time I was over the Turbhe bridge (from being stationary at the lights) which is about 1.5 kms away, the other cars were no longer in my rearview mirror. Shifter pedals behind the steering wheel are fun and you can hold onto a gear longer before you shift up. This can also be done by selecting the ‘Sports’ mode. 0-100 kmph is achieved in just under 8 seconds, which considering its weight is pretty respectable. It does about 60 kmph in 1st gear and just under 90 kmph in 2nd gear at 6500 rpm.
But all this weight and power does have its effect on the mileage. We got about 7 kmpl in the city and about 10 kmpl on the open highways. Overall fuel efficiency for 400 kms (which included quite a bit of open road driving) was about 8.3 kmpl. In stop-go traffic and during spirited driving however we were able to just stay around the 6 kmpl mark. Also, the car requires a minimum of 95 Octane (we had to use the 93 Octane which Skoda says is fine) for the engine to run properly. Our total cost of fuel for 400 kms was about Rs.2500/- which translates to about Rs.6/- per km. So running this powerful beast is quite a costly affair.
Also, the sound from the engine is virtually nonexistent (especially in the cabin), even at higher revs. You could fly past a slow moving car and he’d barely hear you. Not very characteristic of a V6! I’d want it to sound really mean - there was a Ferrari 360 Modena that we caught going up Walkeshwar the other day. A slight dab at the throttle from the bottom of the slope and all the way up, people turned to see what’s coming in their direction.
Maintenance cost is another thing to keep in mind when buying the car, though for someone buying a car at that price it might not be too much of an issue. Mind you, there are German cars around with much higher maintenance and parts costs. The Skoda emblem had been flicked off the car when we took it - a common thing in Mumbai these days and Skoda seems to be their favourite targets. (There should be a better way of bolting these emblems to the car so that they don’t come off easily!). The low oil light went on as soon as we touched the expressway. Both of the issues were taken care of by Skoda at their Pune dealership. Total cost Rs.3000/- (Rs.1000/- for the logo and about Rs.2000/- for the Oil top up).
|Variant||2.0 TDI CR(A)|
|Engine Capacity cc||1968|
|Power in PS/RPM||140/4200|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||320/2500|
|Dimensions in MM|
|Fuel tank capacity||60|
|Mileage in KMPL||17|
|Tyres rating||205/55 R16|
|Turning Radius in M||5.4|
|Boot space||565 L|
|Ex showroom Price Mumbai (in Lakhs)||2315171||2500269|
|12 Way adjustable driver seat||Yes||Yes|
|12 Way adjustable Front Passenger seat||No||Yes|
|Audio player with 6.5" TFT touch screen||No||Yes|
|Integrated 6 CD player||Yes||Yes|
|Dual Zone Climatronic||Yes||Yes|
|Neppa Leather seat upholstery||Yes||Yes|
|Twin door-Variable fifth door opening||Yes||Yes|
|Gear shift control on steering wheel||Yes||Yes|
|Personal comfort settings||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic front wipers with rain sensors||Yes||Yes|
|Eight airbags including rear side airbags||Yes||Yes|
|Adaptive front light system||No||Yes|
|Bi Xenon Projector Headlight||No||Yes|
|Antilock braking system||Yes||Yes|
|Electronic brakeforce distribution||Yes||Yes|
|Traction Control system||Yes||Yes|
|Electronic Differential Lock||No||Yes|
|Electronic Stability Programme||Yes||Yes|
|Hill Hold Control||No||Yes|
|Tyre Pressure Monitoring||Yes||Yes|
|Parktronic Front and rear park distance control||Yes||Yes|
|Engine Immobiliser with floating code||Yes||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||2.0 TDI CR (A)||2.4 AT|
|Ex showroom Price Mumbai in Lakhs||2315171||2178999|
|Power in PS/RPM||140/4200||180/6500|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||320/2500||222/4300|
|Fuel tank capacity||60||70|
|Mileage in KMPL||12||11|
|Tyres rating||205/55 R16||215/60 R16|
|Turning Radius in M||5.4M||5.6M|
|Boot space||565 L||-|
|ABS, EBD, BA||Yes||Yes|
|8 Way Power adjust Driver seat||No||Yes|
|12 Way Power adjust Driver seat||Yes||No|
If outright performance is on your mind, this is the car for you. Also, if you wish to just sit at the back and enjoy, the amount of legroom is the highest in its class and you would probably have to look at the E Class to match it. It’s priced in the same range of the Honda Accord and the Nissan Teana, offers excellent driver dynamics and is packed with features. It’s a car for those who crave for power and know well how to use it, and the Superb just makes it all the more easy.