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New sporty trim adds new level of appeal for the Czech manufacturer's flagship car
When it comes to a top-performing fleet car, the aptly named Skoda Superb is up there with the very best.
Hugely practical, sophisticated and incredibly good value for money, it is one of the best saloon and estate cars in its class, and the stand-out winner in our 2017 awards in the upper medium category.
A new Sportline trim joined the line-up last year and aims to add a little extra pizzazz to the somewhat reserved Skoda, including sporty touches like bigger 19in alloys, privacy glass and gloss black finishings, as well as interior features like LED ambient lighting, sports seats and black roof headlining. The end result is very pleasing on the eye and gives the Skoda a more premium look.
The new trim sits near the top of the range and comes with a whole host of as standard equipment on top of the styling additions including sat-nav with Wi-Fi, electronically adjusted driver's seat with memory function, keyless entry, Apple CarPlay and adaptive cruise control.
So despite the upgrade in trim, the Superb retains its value credentials. Good stuff.
As for space, the Superb Estate is one of the roomiest cars you can buy thanks to its huge 660-litre boot and limo-like rear legroom. It eclipses everything in its class - and the practical features don't end there. There are lots of storage options around the cabin in addition to the familiar Simply Clever features like a cup holder that allows bottles to be opened single-handed and umbrellas built into the front doors.
The Skoda Superb Estate range starts from just over £21,000, so it's fair to say that at £34,710 our test car sits on the more expensive side of the scale. However, not all of this cost comes from opting for the Sportline trim, which starts at just under £29,000. Choosing this powerful 2.0-litre diesel, slick DSG auto gearbox and all-wheel-drive on our test car all incurs a cost too.
The 2.0-litre diesel houses a huge 190hp and is powerful and refined, creating more than enough urgency when the throttle is pushed, with the 0-62mph dash achieved in just 7.7 seconds. The steering is well-weighted too, while the different drive modes enhance the car's throttle response and steering set-up to suit, albeit very subtly.
Paired to the engine, the DSG gearbox is smooth and timely with its gear changes, while the addition of four-wheel-drive, although arguably not needed here, noticeably adds more grip, especially when tackling corners at speed.
As well as the cosmetic enhancements, Sportline models also come with a sporty chassis that helps the driver feel more involved when behind the wheel. However, this does, ever so slightly, come at the cost of ride quality, one of the standard car's core strengths.
Although this combination is a good all-round performer and will certainly make the 'long way home' more inviting after a day in the office, a combined fuel economy of 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 139g/km, although very competitive against comparative rivals, is a steep rise over lower-powered two-wheel drive options, something that requires careful consideration.
The Skoda Superb Estate is a great car and we like the visual enhancements that come with the Sportline trim, which although more expensive, overall offers good value for money. Add this engine and the four-wheel drive capability, and the cost argument starts to fall down somewhat, though.
The Skoda Superb is not supposed to be a sports car; it's a comfortable and practical motorway cruiser. That's where it excels and why it's proven to be such a big success in fleet. Our advice: stick with the 2.0-litre 150hp version - it's all the engine you need with the costs to match.