VW Passat: Passat v Superb

  • Who'll win our estate car shootout?
  • Long-termer showdown splits opinion
  • VW's best for costs, Skoda's better to drive 

In our office I sit directly opposite the Parkers editor Kieren Puffett. His long-term test car is a Skoda Superb Estate and mine, as you will know if you have been following this story, is a Volkswagen Passat Estate.

We have been running these cars for quite a while, and then only a few days ago Kieren piped up: “Why don’t we do a twin test with the Passat and the Superb?”

Genius.

Sometimes you fail to see things that are right in front of you. Of course, it makes perfect sense to put these two very similar cars up against each other and find out which is best for the prospective estate car buyer. Indeed these two cars are cut from the same cloth: they are both products of the VW Audi Group and both are based on the group’s ubiquitous PQ35 platform. Essentially, they have the same underpinnings.

With that in mind you might conclude that Passat and the Superb are one and the same, but as this twin test reveals nothing could be further from the truth. The most obvious difference, apart from the badge, is that Kieren’s long-termer is powered by a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine. The Passat uses a 2.0-litre diesel.

So, which is best? Read on to find out…

Handling and Performance
Tim’s verdict:
I prefer the Skoda. Although it feels like it’s straining in first gear, once you get it into second and then up to third and over 3,500rpm, it really zips along nicely. The power delivery is smooth and it’s very refined too. In the corners the Skoda beats the VW hands down: it’s got loads of grip and you wouldn’t be forgiven for thinking that you are in a hatch. Although capable, the Passat is not really in the same league.

Kieren’s verdict:
Although the Passat is competent, it’s simply not quite up to the task when it comes to driving enjoyment. One thing the Passat does have is plenty of low-down pull, which means that it’s great around town. Still, once you get the Skoda to stretch its legs on a B-Road it puts the Passat in the shade.

Score: 2-0 to the Superb

Costs
Tim’s verdict:
This is easily a Passat win as far as fuel consumption is concerned. We are getting a consistent 46mpg, even when our leaden-footed road test editor Simon McBride drives it. The Skoda, however, averages about 35mpg. The Passat, with its superior CO2 emissions, is also cheaper to tax. If you like you can take the Passat into a Skoda dealership, get cheaper labour costs and perfectly decent service.

Kieren’s verdict:
Yep, it’s hard to argue with the numbers. Official stats say you could get an impressive 61.4mpg on the combined cycle in the Passat whereas the Skoda will only give you 38.7mpg. If you are a company car driver the Passat is going to be cheaper in terms of company car tax because it emits just 120g/km of CO2 whereas the Superb emits 171g/km. The purchase price of the Passat in SE trim is £23,600 compared with the Skoda SE Plus list price of £22,830. Yes, the Passat is fractionally more expensive, but it does have the badge cache. The VW wins here.
 
Score 2-0 to the Passat

Practicality
Tim’s verdict:
I like the Passat. It easily accommodated three sets of golf clubs with two of the rear seats down. The push-down load-bay cover is a great device that hides your stuff from view and it’s just been such a great thing for the regular golf trips that I have regularly embarked on. I didn’t find the Skoda particularly practical or the rear particularly cavernous, so it’s the Passat for me.

Kieren’s verdict:
Erm, I like to deal in fact Tim: the Passat has a loadspace of 603 litres with the rear seats up and 1,731 with the rear seats down whereas the Superb offers 633 litres and 1,865 litres respectively. Clearly a Superb win - forgive the pun. There are also some nice touches on the Superb: a pull-out torch that's magnetic, an umbrella in the rear passenger door armrest and a boot divider. All this a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned, and no fancy push-down load cover is going to make up for that.

Score 1-1

Interior
Tim’s verdict:
Well, I get full leather upholstery and Kieren only gets part leather. The sat-nav on the Passat, with its full postcode facility, is very user-friendly but sometimes it struggles to keep up. As a result, you need to have your wits about you when you are trying to thread your way around city centres. The Skoda’s got the same problems, but I don’t think it’s as user-friendly. I like the ease at which you can change the music selections when you have installed your iPod and I like the fact that the connector is tucked away in the glove compartment too. Overall the dash layout is simpler and more logical – it looks classier too.

Kieren’s verdict:
Again, look at the facts and the most salient, incontestable fact is that the interiors are, essentially, built by the same company and therefore the quality the same. The Skoda’s infotainment system is just as user-friendly. Tim is getting old and he’s a bit slow. He hasn’t quite worked it all out yet.

Score 1-1

Desirability
Tim’s verdict:
This is easy: the Passat is much more desirable. Yes, the Skoda jokes are long gone, but for really ill-informed and ever-dwindling minority the badge is still a problem. I like the white paintwork on Kieren’s car though – it suits it really well, particularly with the posh alloys. The Passat is more desirable, though.

Kieren’s verdict:
The VW will be seen as more desirable because of the badge snobbery, but Skoda is on the bounce and I have never experienced that condescending attitude that Tim is talking about. Maybe he mixes in posher circles. Well, he thinks he does, at least. The fact is - a recurring theme for me - the smarter buyer goes for the Skoda. For those in the know the Superb is a best-kept secret that any sensible buyer will go for.

Score 1-1

Overall score: VW Passat 5 / Skoda Superb 5 

Passat's current mileage: 15,890 miles

Passat's average mpg: 45.8mpg