Skoda is a brand built on offering great value for money, so we absolutely shouldn’t be surprised to see the Superb iV, its first hybrid model, comfortably undercut rivals. This isn’t simply a mild-hybrid, starter-generator jobbie, either, it’s a proper PHEV – there’s a plug port in the nose and a lead in the boot to confirm it – yet pricing starts at £33,590. That’s cheap for this sort of stuff; the technically related Passat GTE is £3k pricier, while BMW’s 330e is nearly £5,000 more. Yet the Superb is said to mix the usability and practicality it’s famed for with a powertrain capable of 34 miles in electric mode.
Peak combined power is rated at 218hp, too, with 295lb ft available before that, so claims for a 7.4-second 0-62mph time, even in a car weighing 1.7 tonnes, seem more than credible. That being said, the Superb iV – the name of which, if you’re wondering, ties it to the sub-brand that’s to align all of Skoda’s electrified models – is unashamedly sensible. Claims for WLTP-rated 148.7mpg economy and 42g/km of CO2 suggest owners’ wallets will be noticeably fatter in good time. Such numbers suggest there’s plenty of room for inefficient uses of the battery, too.
You don’t need to be an industry analyst to note the iV’s worthiness for business fleets; Skoda reckons the trait should help to ensure that the PHEV represents a third of overall Superb sales. But there’s also potential for this peppy hybrid to be a nice middle ground between the old world and the electric one, for those wanting to make the switch to more efficient motoring without fully abandoning the security of a combustion engine. The rolling stats for Skoda’s hybrid – which include a nine-second 30-70mph dash – leave it looking more than capable of life in the outside lane, while its EV range should take care of the rest. And the Superb isn’t exactly lacking in its base; there’s lots of room aboard.
On that subject, the iV doesn’t alter from the form of Skoda’s sharp-looking hatch at all. Barring the aforementioned plug and lead, which remain hidden until exposed, there’s nothing outwardly different about the PHEV compared with its pure combustion siblings. With the lithium-ion battery placed in the chassis floor in front of the rear axle, there’s no noticeable difference in the cabin; the driver remains perched in a supportive seat, placed slightly higher than the class norm so visibility front and rear is very good. The partly digital stuff around you (our mid-level SE Tech doesn’t get Skoda’s full digital instrument cluster) is typical VW Group stuff; it’s familiar, functional and easy to use. And a bit plain.
But – most importantly here – you’re comfortable in seconds and instantly at one with the car’s controls, such is the seamlessness of the Superb. There’s little to fault in this department. Left to its own devices, the iV doesn’t ask for any change in driving style, either, with the 114hp electric motor more than capable of moving the car off from a standstill and up to city speeds. The turbocharged 1.4-litre, should it be needed, starts without vibration and smoothly feeds in its power. The six-speed dual clutch gearbox feels perfectly tuned to maintain this cohesive feel, keeping revs low while also being happy to drop a cog under load. It all just works.
Suspicion is that many Superb iV drivers will use their car in this manner most if not all of the time, and (if the forums are to be believed) some fleet drivers may never even charge the battery. Yet the electric motor’s continual assistance (it remains active in the background even when the battery is at zero per cent) still makes achieving north of 40mpg combined quite easy. Of course, to reach anything close to the claimed economy, battery charge will be required so that slower speed driving, or indeed time you’re not in need of more than 114hp, can be handled with the four-cylinder off. Do this and you’ll quickly double the economy without trying. Those faced with mostly urban commutes who use the plug as intended should easily see three-figure mile per gallon.
Obviously, ‘electric’ mode is the car’s most efficient setting. The default ‘hybrid auto’ mode juggles between the two power sources as explained above, while ‘hybrid manual’ allows the driver to adjust how significant a role the petrol motor plays, and alter how prevalent the energy recuperation of the battery is. In its highest setting, we reckon a 45-min motorway stint should be enough to fill the empty battery to make easy use of electric mode on following, low speed sections of road. That’s handy for those with urban stints at either end of the journey; and promising for those hoping for maximum electric boost on their final stretch.
Along with the aforementioned trio of Superb iV settings, Skoda’s usual drive modes - Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Individual – are retained in the PHEV. In Normal and especially Comfort, the iV rides well, pliant enough so that speed bumps and broken road surfaces are dealt with confidently. But, likely thanks to the mass aboard, there’s a decent amount of body roll when the pace is increased, so the car feels lazy through the bends. It’s not addressed until you switch over to Sport, where the DCC-equipped PHEV tenses noticeably and roll is cut substantially. There’s still lean and a small dose of safety understeer, but you can certainly carry speed without drama in the iV.
In truth, there’s little joy to be had from the act of cornering quickly in this Superb, unsurprising though that conclusion will be. It’s too safe and too forward in its balance to be entertaining; the steering is consistent but void of feel, and the added resistance of Sport mode does nothing but up the effort level for your arms. The powertrain, however, does provide small jabs of fun, because the accelerator kick-down button becomes a boost switch in Sport. Click it and you’re given the combined powertrain’s best, with a noticeable shove of electric punch delivered in a linear manner. Floor it with some lock on and there’s even a few tenths of torque steer.
Let’s not beat around the bush, though; this mix of performance is better used when powering the Superb iV up slip roads and settling into an outside lane cruise for mile after mile. Do this, and the hybrid hardware can flaunt what it does best: working to trim fuel use and CO2 without you ever noticing. It’s no surprise that the Superb iV can’t come close to a 330e for driver engagement, or that it can’t match the higher-grade GTE for outright class. But in that typically Skoda way, this five-seat PHEV simply does everything it needs to at the required level, while costing comfortably less than the competition. Money saved equals more petrol for the weekend toy, after all.
SKODA SUPERB IV SE TECH | SPECIFICATION
Engine: 1,395cc, turbocharged inline four, plus electric motor
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 218@6,000rpm (combined system peak)
Torque (lb ft): 295 (combined system peak)
Top speed: 138mph
MPG: 235.4-148.7mpg (WLTP weight combined)
Price: £33,590 (price as tested: £34,185, including £595 metallic paint)
Note: the car pictured has the optional digital instrument cluster and 19-inch wheels; our car ran with the standard dials and 17s.
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