The Skoda Superb Estate iV is a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid with lots of space; it offers good value for money and it’s decent to drive
The different brands within the Volkswagen Group have been bringing various electric products to market (pure electric and plug-in hybrids), except for Skoda. However that has just changed with the Skoda Superb, which, in ‘iV’ guise, is now available with a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain. Surely this must be one of the best value cars with electric driving capability?
The Skoda Superb Estate iV shares its powertrain technology with the Volkswagen Passat GTE. This means there’s a 156PS 1.4 TSI petrol engine with a 85kW/115PS electric motor, giving a combined power output pf 218PS. Drive is through a six-speed DSG transmission to the front wheels.
The Skoda Superb Estate is a large car with lots of space; the legroom for rear seat passengers is limousine-like and the boot is huge. There’s 510 litres of space in the boot with the seats up (compared to 660 litres in the petrol model), or a vast 1,800 litres of capacity with the rear seats down (compared to 1,950 litres in the petrol model). There’s even a compartment under the boot floor for the charging cables – which is very welcome and very unusual – most plug-in cars have the cables lying around in the boot, taking up valuable space and generally being very untidy.
The interior is what’s expected of the Skoda brand within the Volkswagen Group, which means that it’s generally functional and decent quality but not very exciting. However one area struggled in the functionality department: the buttons for the heating and ventilation, under the touchscreen, are very dark and not very clear.
It’s just a shame that our test car came in a very grey colour during the week of Storm Ciara when the weather was also very grey (apart from literally just a few minutes during the ‘calm before the storm’ which allowed us to snap some photos).
The Superb iV is started by a start/stop switch – which is located exactly where the ignition switch used to be on the right-hand side of the steering column – ie. somewhat hidden away.
There are a number of drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual. And then there are two separate buttons: Sport and E-mode – with the latter giving the option for selecting electric or hybrid power. So there are two buttons for Sport – one via the standard drive mode menu, and one appears to be a ‘shortcut’ button (requiring only a press of a button rather than the press of a button and then the selection of Sport on the touchscreen).
If you opt to drive in electric mode, then the driving experience is similar to most other electric cars – ie. quiet and refined, with instant torque.
If you drive using the 1.4 TSI petrol engine then this is also quiet, refined and responsive, with decent performance, especially if you select Sport mode. The six-speed DSG transmission also works well; there are no steering-wheel mounted paddles, but you can change manually using the gear selector – but there’s usually not much need to do this. Then there’s also a ‘B’ mode, which can be selected by pulling the gear selector down twice, which gives more brake regeneration.
The Superb iV is front-wheel drive, which isn’t our favourite drive layout in such a large car; although you can experience some wheelspin when accelerating in the wet, torque steer isn’t as much of an issue as in some other front-wheel drive PHEVs.
The ride quality of the Superb is excellent. This was no doubt helped in the case of our press car by sensible tyres; the wheels may not look as flashy as large alloys with low profile tyres, but the ride quality certainly benefits from the ordinary looking wheels and tyres.
And handling? Well, it’s what you’d expect from a large front-wheel drive estate weighing 1,752-1,901 kg depending upon spec. Not exciting, but competent.
The brakes are one area where a bit more response would be preferable.
The dashboard is largely unchanged from the petrol model, and, probably as a result of this, you don’t get a large dial showing battery charge as you do in most pure EVs, just a very small battery graphic with the remaining miles of range in the instrument display. However you do have the ability to view a large graphic of the state of the battery charge in the central touchscreen.
The touchscreen has buttons around it for sat nav and radio etc, which is good, and even a dial to zoom in and out of the map. What we’re not sure about is the default display of a strange graphic when you select satnav, rather than a map – you’ll need to press the satnav button twice to view the map. There’s also no reversing camera – just a diagram of the car, which isn’t as good.
The official WLTP combined fuel economy for the Superb Estate iV is 188.3-148.7 mpg, with CO2 emissions (NEDC equivalent) of 38 g/km.
As regular Green Car Guide visitors will be aware, the fuel economy that you’ll enjoy in the real-world will completely depend on how many miles you drive on electric compared to how many miles you drive on petrol. If most of your driving is on the battery, then you might enjoy 100mpg+. However if most of your driving is long motorway journeys on the petrol engine, economy is likely to be no better than the petrol model, and there’s probably no point in buying the plug-in hybrid (a diesel will be the most economical option).
So what did we experience in real-world driving? At 70mph motorway speeds we managed 42.0mpg. Our normal driving over the course of a typical week is around 80% long journeys and 20% local trips; during the week of Storm Ciara it was actually the opposite, ie. 20% long journeys and 80% local trips. The result of this was average fuel economy of 64.2mpg, which is good for a large estate weighing almost two tonnes.
The official electric driving range is 35 miles, but was displayed as 21 miles every day, with a petrol range of almost 500 miles.
The Superb Estate iV can be charged in 5 hours from a three-pin plug or 3.5 hours from a home wall box – and it would benefit from a light in the charging socket.
The Skoda Superb Estate iV SE Technology 1.4 TSI 218PS DSG (yes that’s a mouthful) costs £33,250. Options fitted to our test car were metallic paint (£595) and textile floor mat set (£85), taking the total price to £33,930.
There are three petrol and three diesel engine options in total, with outputs from 120PS to 272PS, plus DSG and 4×4 options, and there are six trim grades for the overall Superb range: S, SE, SE technology, SE L, SportLine Plus and Laurin & Klement.
The Skoda Superb Estate iV is a very good all-round car. The key selling points are the large amounts of space for occupants and luggage, the fact that you can drive at least 20 miles on zero-tailpipe emission electric power (and then around 500 miles on petrol), and that, at £33,000, it’s a lot of car for the money. The Superb is also good to drive on its petrol engine, the gearbox works well, and it has a comfortable ride. It’s just a shame that our press car was a very grey colour during a very grey week of weather, which certainly didn’t help it to look visually exciting. But maybe that sums up what this car is about – very good in virtually all ways, with genuinely very few faults, but just not that exciting. And so the Skoda Superb Estate iV SE Technology 1.4 TSI 218PS DSG is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10. But only buy this car – or any plug-in hybrid – if you can drive on electric power most of the time, with the petrol engine reserved for occasional long journeys.