Skoda: 2014 Superb Ambition Hatchback vs Elegance Wagon Review

Skoda: 2014 Superb Ambition Hatchback vs Elegance Wagon Review

skoda-superb-tdi-125-elegance-wagon-rear-seatsIf you live in America and you know a man aged between 20 and 40 who is 7 feet tall (2.13m) there’s a 17 percent chance that they play professional basketball in the NBA right now. That means 1 in 6 males 7 feet tall or over in that age group play professional basketball.

These super-tall individuals find a world that does not suit their disproportionately long limbs, and therefore modes of transport become difficult. But not the Skoda Superb. If you are a rear seat passenger, there is room for a person who is 7 feet tall. In fact, the Skoda Superb has class-leading rear legroom and, in all my vehicle tests (400+), the only two vehicles I remember having more were the Lexus LS600h and a Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit, both of which are multiple times more expensive and are designed as limousines.

skoda-superb-tdi-103-sedan-rear-seatsChances are that if you are in the NBA, you won’t want to travel in a Skoda Superb, but my point is made for the 5 out of 6 less-well-heeled 7-footers.

The Superb has been around for approximately five years and it was updated recently. We tested the $48,900 103kW TDI Ambition sedan at vs the $59,900 125kW TDI 4×4 Elegance wagon to see what kind of difference thirteen grand would make. The answer is quite a lot.

Both vehicles come with six-speed DSG gearboxes, and have the same exterior dimensions (4.83m long, 1.82m wide and 1.51m tall). If you look at the profile of the wagon you’ll see that the rear window is quite steeply raked, almost like it’s half way between a hatchback and a full-on wagon. You do still get more space in the wagon (603l with the seats up and 1835l skoda-superb-tdi-125-elegance-wagon-bootwith the seats down vs 585l and 1670l respectively). The sedan has a trick tailgate which will open as a true sedan or like a hatchback.

In terms of safety, both models get drivers and passenger front airbags and driver knee airbag, an alarm, the full suite of electronic safety features (ESP, ABS, traction control, etc), and hill start assist. However, the wagon comes with curtain airbags front and rear as opposed to just at the front, and a driver fatigue alert. You can add these to the sedan for $800. The wagon also has an electric tailgate (a $1000 option for the sedan), bi-xenon headlights with daytime LED lights (a $2500 option), front/rear park aid (a $750 option), and heated rear seats (a $950 option).  Our test wagon had some options of its own fitted:  a panoramic roof ($2500), and KESSY skoda-superb-tdi-125-elegance-wagon-sat-navkeyless entry and start ($1000).

The wagon also gets satellite navigation which, at $4500 to install in the sedan is extremely steep compared to a third-party option. The wagon’s interior features leather seating (a $3500 option for the sedan) and the exterior has 18-inch wheels (a $1250 option for the sedan). There are a few other differences such as heated folding door mirrors, but if you add up just the ones mentioned, and don’t include the extra technology required for 4WD plus the more powerful engine, it’s already up to $13700 which is more than the difference in price between the two.

skoda-superb-tdi-103-sedan-front-quarterBoth models support Bluetooth phones, however, I found difficulty in both of them getting my iPhone 5 to connect. The sedan eventually did, but I gave up in the wagon after 5 minutes of trying.

The Ambition is the base model  (if you exclude the petrol TSI). For your money you get cloth interior and a fairly bland cabin. It’s comfortable enough. The 103kW diesel is good to get you to 100kph in 10.2 seconds and you should see fuel economy in the 6-7l/100km range during every day driving. Skoda quotes 5.2l/100km. The Elegance 4×4 is the second model skoda-superb-tdi-103-sedan-boot-hatchdown in the Superb range, below the V6. Its 125kW diesel gets you to 100kph in 8.8 seconds and is slightly more thirsty; Skoda quotes 5.7l/100km.

The driving experience for both is very similar, except the wagon has slightly more power. The four-wheel drive is useful for getting out of intersections quickly in the wet, but didn’t seem to add any other confidence when motoring. The DSG gearbox is predictably slick with instant gearchanges when you need them.

Ergonomics are excellent with everything falling easily to hand. One important omission, though, is that there’s nowhere to place a water bottle. This would all but eliminate the Skoda for me because I carry one most skoda-superb-tdi-103-sedan-interiorplaces and mine ended up rolling around off the front seat and into the footwell. The central binnacle isn’t really the right size for one either.

If you’re after a Superb as a family car, the Elegance 125kW is the one to go for. The lower model sedan Ambition looks boring and you get more features for similar money in a base model Mazda6 2.2 diesel GLX. However, the wagon Elegance 125kW looks better and has a nicer interior. At $56,900 (and don’t forget it’s four-wheel drive, too) the price is reasonable, the performance is more than adequate (it’s 1.4 seconds quicker to 100kph than the 103kW Ambition), interior comfort is superb and overall it’s a better value proposition.

If you are in the business of ferrying people around, e.g. taxis, the Superb would also represent a vehicle that is both extremely frugal and has superior space for passengers.

Skoda is converting people’s opinions from what it used to be back in the days when its cars were laughable to what it is now: a well-executed, viable entry-level European car with Volkswagen quality at an affordable price.

Price: Ambition 103kW sedan $45,900; Elegance 4×4 wagon $59,900

Pros

  • Enormous rear legroom
  • Wagon looks sleek and comes loaded
  • Good fuel economy

Cons

  • Auto start/stop function occasionally got confused, leaving me waiting at lights for several seconds before restarting
  • No bottle holder

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