Skoda originally used the Superb name in the 1930s but nobody remembers that. You’ll probably be more aware of the models called Superb which Skoda introduced from 2001 onwards. They’re closely related to the Volkswagen Passat but with more interior space and tend to represent better value for money.
What started out as a rather dour and conventional saloon car 20 years ago has morphed into a serious, stylish and appealing car available as a hatchback and as an estate. And from 2019 onwards the Superb now comes as a plug-in hybrid to make it a little more - erm, superb at what it does.
You can tell a Superb plug-in hybrid apart from the normal petrol and diesel versions by its name. The ‘iV’ is the moniker Skoda has chosen for its full-electric (like the Skoda Citigo-e iV) and part-electric models like this Superb.
The familiar Passat GTE is the VW equivalent of the Superb iV and uses the same 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine attached to an electric motor and plug-in battery set-up. Both offer around 35 miles of pure electric driving and wildly unreachable official fuel economy figures of 235mpg.
Skodas have long been considered good value for money and it’s no different with the Superb iV. While the price range may seem a little steep (£33,000 to £41,500), it’s not only 15 per cent cheaper than its sister car, but also around 20 per cent cheaper than an entry-level BMW 330e. Okay, some may say the BMW badge and the 330e’s crisper handling characteristics are worth that extra cash, but it’s a smaller car and isn’t as well equipped as the Skoda.
Skoda says the Superb iV will manage up to 35 miles on pure electricity – the same, unsurprisingly, as the Passat GTE and similar to the BMW 330e and Volvo S60 T8. As it covers less than 40 miles on electricity, the Superb falls into the 12% benefit-in-kind company car tax bracket, and when you remember than most equivalent diesels are at the 37% mark, there are some big savings to be made by going for the iV plug-in hybrid.
But you really have to remember to plug it as often as you can. If you don’t your fuel economy will plummet to around 40mpg – keep the battery topped up and you should get near to 70mpg (don’t believe the frankly ridiculous 235mpg claim unless you use the battery power most of the time and hardly ever bother the petrol engine).
Elsewhere and the Superb is a very relaxing car to drive. It comes as standard with clever adaptive dampers for the suspension (so you can make the ride uncomfortable or pillowy soft) and it’s a car that likes to waft around and not be harried.