Price: Superb range from £17,455, Greenline models from £18,685
Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 12.5 seconds
Fuel consumption: 64.2 mpg
CO2 emissions: 114 g/km
The current Skoda Superb really is – superb, that is. The first modern Superb already deserved to be badged as the Skoda Rather-Good-For-A-Stretched-And-Rebadged-Volkswagen-Passat but its successor, introduced in 2008, really does live up to its name. This car immediately set new standards for space, value, economy and quality.
One of the most interesting variants of the second-generation Superb has always been the eco-oriented GreenLine. This started off in life with the Volkswagen group's 1.9-litre Pumpe-Düse (PD) diesel engine but that looked like an anomoly from the beginning; the PD engine was already very much on the way out, being replaced across all of Volkswagen's brands – including at Skoda, on more expensive versions of the Superb – by smoother, more modern common rail (CR) diesels.
Now, the inevitable has happened, and the old 1.9 PD power unit has been replaced by VW's 1.6-litre common rail engine and eco Superbs are now badged GreenLine II rather than just GreenLine. Power, at 105 horsepower, and torque, at 250 Newton metres, are unaffected, at least in terms of the headline figures, but the CR engine is nicer. The PD had a reputation for being lively, but also somewhat unrefined, although it felt more civilised in the Superb GreenLine than just about anywhere else.
The CR engine also brings some worthwhile improvements in terms of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Fuel consumption, according to the official combined cycle test, improves from 55.4mpg to 64.2mpg, while CO2 emissions in official tests drop from 136g/km to 114. That means Band C for Vehicle Excise Duty, rather than Band E, so road tax is only £30 per year. That's not just a consequence of the engine change, though; there have been a few other tweaks as well. One of these is a fuel-saving stop-start system, which Skoda reckons saves 5 to 10g/km of CO2, and more than that in urban driving. One thing that remains unchanged is that the GreenLine II still has a five-speed manual gearbox at a time when six-speeders are becoming the norm, although it works well in practice, even though the GreenLine II has longer overall gearing than non-GreenLine models. The GreenLine II isn't particularly quick on paper but is never really found wanting on the road, thanks to its sweet nature and decent torque delivery.
“Big car small engine” is one of the most important emerging themes in today's car market, as manufacturers attempt to offer big cars that provide the sort of economy and tax advantages required by today's financially hard-pressed motorists. Skoda's Superb GreenLine II is one of the most convincing examples. Alternatives include Skoda's own petrol-powered 1.4TSI Superb and Ford's latest 1.6-litre Mondeo variants – turbodiesels and the excellent EcoBoost petrol engine. Volvo provides a similarly agreeable, roomy and comfortable package to the Superb GreenLine II in the form of the 1.6-litre turbodiesel S80 DRIVe, although that's quite a bit pricier than the Superb.
One final alteration has been made in transforming the Superb GreenLine into the Greenline II; previously, the GreenLine was a stand-alone model in its own right with its own trim level pitched between the entry-level S and the mid-range SE. Now, GreenLine II is an engine option that is available with all three Superb trim levels, including the top-spec Elegance. Personally, I thought the original GreenLine trim level was extremely well judged, providing a number of worthwhile additional features for only a small premium over the S, but Skoda's new approach is in keeping with the trend for manufacturers to offer eco features more broadly across their ranges, including in plusher models, rather than confining them to a few hair-shirt specials.
Skoda's Superb is one of the most complete cars on the market today. The Greenline II is probably the pick of the range.Reuse content