Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Several engines available in the Superb
  • Choice of manual or DSG gearboxes
  • Plug-in hybrid arrives later in 2019

The Superb's engine line-up has undergone a few changes since 2015, with newer engines becoming available, so if you're buying a used Superb, you'll find the selection slightly different to the new line-up. There are two petrols and two diesels available, mixed with front and four-wheel drive plus automatic and manual gearboxes on some models.

Skoda Superb TSI petrol engines

Kicking off the Superb range is a 1.5-litre TSI petrol producing 150hp and 250Nm of torque. With a 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds, though, it hardly feels entry-level. We've been impressed with this engine in several other VW Group products from the VW Arteon and Golf to the SEAT Ateca and Audi A3. 

It's refined and quiet at a cruise, which will only be boosted by the Superb's impressive levels of refinement. This engine shuts down two of the cylinders when all four aren't being used, in a bid to boost economy and efficiency, and is also available with a choice of six-speed manual or DSG automatic gearboxes

If 150hp isn't enough for you, then there's a much more powerful option. With 272hp, 350Nm, all-wheel drive and a DSG gearbox, this 2.0-litre TSI is the most powerful engine available in the Superb, and is good for a 0-62mph sprint of just 5.5 seconds. It was previously available with 280hp, but has since lost a bit of power due to WLTP regulations. 

Added as part of the car's updates in 2019, a 2.0-litre with 190hp joined the range. It comes exclusively with a DSG gearbox, and is capable of a 0-62mph sprint in 7.7 seconds, and offers 320Nm of torque. It's a smooth and quiet alternative to the diesels. 

Skoda Superb TDI diesel engines

On the more sensible end of the spectrum is a popular 2.0-litre TDI with 150hp (updated in 2019 to a new unit called TDI Evo), which is a big seller in the range on account of its accessible performance and impressive economy and efficiency figures for business users (81% of Superb sales). With a manual gearbox the 0-62mph time is 9.2 seconds and on the road it feels eager, with 340Nm of torque available from just 1,750rpm. This engine is also available with an automatic gearbox option with identical performance figures.

The range-topping diesel is another 2.0-litre TDI with 190hp and 400Nm of torque. Correspondingly the 0-62mph time is a quick 8.3 seconds (8.0 seconds with four-wheel drive) and a top speed over 140mph. Linear in its performance on the road, a slight diesel grumble is evident when extended – for us the 150hp model feels like a slightly sweeter state of tune with extra refinement over this unit, plus the 190hp unit is only available with DSG.

At the entry point to the diesel range is a 120hp 1.6-litre TDI, producing 250Nm of torque and a 0-62mph figure of 11.1 seconds. This is an economy focused car, and suits comfortable motorway journeys - it just takes a little longer getting up to speed than the rest of the cars. 

Engines no longer available

Previously, the Superb range kicked off with a 1.4-litre TSI with 125hp and 200Nm, with an official 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds. There was also a more powerful 1.4-litre with 150hp, which lowered the 0-62mph time to 8.6 seconds and increased top speed from 129mph to 137mph. Peak torque (250Nm) arrived at 1,500rpm but that power figure remained elusive until 3,500rpm later – and as such this feels like a unit you have to work hard. 

It feels more linear on the road, but though it’s happy to rev-out, there’s no sudden increase in urgency with its performance as you reach its rev-limit. Our only mild concern would be its ability to cope with a Superb loaded with people and luggage – it doesn’t exactly feel fast one-up. We suspect it’ll feel even slower with a six-speed automatic gearbox, increasing its 0-62mph to 8.8 seconds, which is otherwise smooth and quick to shift. This has now been replaced by the 1.5 TSI. 

But if speed, and petrol-power, is your raison d’etre on a used Superb, Skoda had two more options; both 2.0-litre turbos with either 220hp or 280hp to choose from. Derived from the engines found in the Skoda Octavia vRS and Audi S3, they offer a 7.0- or 5.8-second 0-62mph time respectively. Both will surpass 150mph given enough space, and are exclusively available with the six-speed automatic gearbox. The 280hp version is still available, but now with 272hp.

Far more sensible, if not nearly as quick, was one of the diesel engines – a frugal 1.6-litre TDI boasting 120hp and a generous 250Nm of torque. The official 0-62mph time takes 10.9 seconds, though you can expect this model to do its best work in the midrange.

Handling

  • Superb errs more on the side of comfort
  • Handling is tidy, but there's some roll
  • Driving modes are available

First and foremost the Superb is designed to be a comfortable, luxurious and relaxing executive car, so those hoping for a sharp, sporting saloon should probably look elsewhere. That said, it’s built on the same platform as the VW Golf, Audi A3, SEAT Leon and even the Skoda Octavia, so while it’ll never rival a BMW 5 Series for engagement it feels very reassuring on the road.

Choose the SE L Executive and above and you’ll benefit from the Drive Mode Selection, which alters the steering, throttle, air conditioning and even lighting responses depending on chosen option – ranging from Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual. Those cars fitted with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) which adjusts the dampers and steering further, also benefit from a Comfort mode.

And it certainly helps the car cosset its occupants, but we’d be tempted to leave everything in Normal, the comfort dampers setting quickly struggling to maintain suspension control on an undulating road. Normal steering is infinitely preferable too, since Comfort is too light and Sport simply adds weight rather than any additional feel.

Driven out of its comfort zone, and the Superb makes a decent effort, with sharp responses to steering input, and thanks to its XDS+ electronic front differential a decent amount of grip from the front wheels. It fails to entertain though, and you’ll soon have to remind yourself this is a comfortable saloon, not a sporty coupe.