The Skoda Superb is back… for a limited few.
Our long-term time with the Skoda Superb Scout has come to an end. Along with the video you see here, we’ve updated our review with our findings from three months at the helm down the bottom of the post.
Skoda has also added the Scout to its full-time roster for 2021 – it’s no longer a limited edition. For more details, click here.
Although Europe has had access to Skoda’s updated large sedan and wagon since late last year, it’s remained just out of reach for Australia.
It’s still not quite running at full strength; the updated Superb range will be here in full force later this year. In the meantime, Skoda is bridging the gap between models with a limited-run of Superb Scout wagons.
It’s no better at tying knots than a regular Superb wagon, and didn’t once help an old lady cross the road during our time behind the wheel.
What it is, however, is a spacious and comfortable wagon with the added bonus of a more off-road ready ride height, tougher looks, and a generous helping of standard equipment.
Pricing for the Scout kicks off at $59,490 before on-road costs, with very few options available.
The only options are paint and a panoramic glass sunroof, the latter of which will set you back $1900. Metallic or pearl colours are $770, Velvet Red paint is $1100, and Tangerine paint is priced at $1700.
Rivals for the Scout are few and far between. The Subaru Outback has a similar high-riding wagon body and highly-specced cabin, and will set you back $50,490 before on-road costs in range-topping 3.6R Premium guise.
However it’s not quite as ‘premium’ as the Skoda, nor is it quite as large. Skoda’s equivalent-sized SUV is the Kodiaq which, optioned up in Sportline guise, has a similar starting price to the Superb.
But the Kodiaq can’t be optioned with the more powerful petrol engine from the Scout. The most powerful Skoda SUV is the Kodiaq RS, which has a diesel engine and a starting price north of $70,000.
The Skoda Superb Scout is chock full with everything in the Skoda kit bag.
On the outside, you get Matrix LED headlamps and LED tail lights with scrolling indicators, fog lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, extra underbody protection, and black cladding for the wheel arches, body trim, and bumpers. There’s also a Scout badge on the front flanks.
Inside, the driver and passenger sit in leather and suede-trimmed seats. They’re electrically adjustable with memory, and heated for good measure.
The outboard rear seats are also heated, as is the three-spoke steering wheel.
There’s a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment display on the dashboard with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, while the driver is faced with a 10.25-inch digital Virtual Cockpit instrument binnacle. You also get a Canton premium sound system.
Keyless entry and start, tyre-pressure monitoring, privacy glass, stainless steel pedals, a powered tailgate with gesture control, and adaptive chassis control round out the standard equipment list.
The current-generation Skoda Superb wears a five-star safety rating based on 2015 testing protocols.
In crash tests conducted by sister firm Euro NCAP, the Superb managed 86 per cent for adult occupant protection, 86 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for safety assist, and 71 per cent for pedestrian detection.
A range of active safety features are standard, including city and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam Assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, and a reversing camera.
Massive. At 4863mm long and 1864mm wide with a 2841mm wheelbase, the Scout is almost BMW 5 Series sized. That means there’s acres of room for passengers, both front and rear.
This being a wagon, we’re going to start at the rear. Space under the creased boot lid is a claimed 660L with the rear seats in place, expanding to 1950L with them folded.
The boot lip is low, and there’s enough netting back there to secure even the most obscure of loads. There are handy (and removable) LED torches on hand, and the luggage cover can be removed without breaking any fingernails, which isn’t always the case.
It also can be half slid, and doesn’t need to be manually unhooked. You just press on its end and it slides slowly back into the reel, which is a nice touch.
The seats can be folded using clips near the headrests, or remotely using pulls from the boot.
Unfortunately, they don’t fold completely flat – there’s a small hump, and the seats are angled slightly. It’s not an issue if you mostly carry sporting equipment like me. My XL road bike slotted in without hassle.
Rear seat space is excellent, even with six-footers sitting behind six-footers. Although the roof looks quite low from the outside headroom is generous even with the optional panoramic sunroof fitted, and the outboard seats are broad enough for big-boned passengers.
The central seat is slightly raised, and is best reserved for smaller kids or very skinny adults.
Finally, the front is a functional and well-featured space. The seating position is excellent for a wide range of body styles, and the seats themselves are supportive and cushy.
There’s a few storage options, including a large central bin, lined door pockets, central cupholders, and a wireless phone charger under the dashboard, but it’s not quite as practical as the immensely clever centre console on the Kodiaq and Karoq crossovers.
Skoda’s infotainment system is glossy and easy to use, with snappy responses and simple menus. The Virtual Cockpit digital instrument binnacle remains a standard-setter for its clarity and customisation potential, too.
All the materials feel high quality, but we can’t help but wish more thought was put into the Superb’s design. It’s a bit bland compared to the Kodiaq or even the related Volkswagen Passat Alltrack inside, with a simple dashboard design.
Some people will like the unpretentious layout, but even the wood trim option offered overseas would be nice for a dash of visual excitement.
On the other hand, the Superb does feature a range of surprise and delight ‘Simply Clever’ touches. I love the in-door rubbish bin, and the pop-out LED torches are handy to have. Kids will appreciate the tablet holders integrated into the headrests, as will parents keen for some respite on long road trips.
Power in the Superb Scout comes from a variation of the EA888 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine used in the Volkswagen Golf R. It pumps out 200kW of power and 350Nm of torque in this guise, sent to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Claimed fuel economy is rated at 7.1L/100km on the combined cycle, while the 0-100km/h sprint is dispatched in a claimed 5.7 seconds.
Although the Audi RS3 and Skoda Karoq 140TSI have since arrived with petrol particulate filters, the Scout was actually the first Volkswagen Group product to land in Australia with the emissions-beating feature.
Necessary to meet emissions regulations in Europe, the filter is designed to catch the worst, most harmful particles in the car’s exhaust and burn them off at high temperatures to prevent them being emitted into the atmosphere.
Skoda is stressing the fact owners need to use premium unleaded in the car. Australian petrol contains significantly more sulphur than the unleaded sold in Europe, especially in the case of 91RON regular unleaded, which can clog the filter.
If the car is filled with the wrong fuel just a few times, owners face a hefty repair bill.
Effortless is the word that comes to mind for the Scout.
The EA888 engine is a known quantity by now – and what we know about it is almost exclusively good. With peak torque on tap between 2000rpm and 5400rpm you’re essentially always in the power band, and it’s never anything but silky smooth.
In normal driving, the dual-clutch transmission shuffles to the tallest gear possible at the earliest opportunity. It’ll slide to fourth at just 40km/h which somewhat dulls throttle response, but also makes for impressive fuel economy numbers on the combined cycle.
Thankfully, it’s quick to kick down when you lean harder on the accelerator.
The dual-clutch transmission is snappy on the move, and isn’t jerky off the line like the units in lower-powered Volkswagen Group products. It’s an excellent partner for the punchy 2.0-litre engine, and can manually shifted using the paddles behind the wheel when you’re in a hurry.
Although it’s a big car, the Scout shows an impressive turn of speed when the kids are late for school. It pulls hard to redline, and even has a pleasingly velvety growl in Sport Mode. It doesn’t feel all that far removed from the Golf R.
Its raised ride might suggest an SUV-style drive, but the high-riding Superb still feels like a regular passenger car. There’s a bit more suspension travel over speed bumps, but otherwise the Scout just feels like a Superb that’s been lifted 15mm.
The ride is appropriately plush in Normal, although sharp-edged bumps can sneak into the cabin. Switching into Comfort slackens body control right off, for a floaty, luxurious-feeling ride. Comfort quickly became our go-to.
It’s perfectly in keeping with the Scout’s comfortable, polished nature. It’s effortless to drive around town, with light steering and excellent all-around visibility, aided by the clear reversing camera and parking sensors.
And when the speed rises, the Superb Scout settles down with a coffin-quiet cabin. It’s near silent on the highway, with almost no tyre roar or wind rustle sneaking into the cabin which, combined with the long-legged ride and punchy engine, makes this an ideal road trip car.
As for Sport Mode? It’s too sharp in the city, but with stiffer suspension and heavier steering it allows the Scout to really get up and dance when the road gets twisty. It’s no Golf R, but you’ll be able to keep the kids awake if you’re in a hurry.
Skoda covers the Superb Scout with a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
It offers pre-paid service packages for either the first three or five years of ownership costing $900 and $1700 respectively.
A used car service pack can be purchased after the first 15,000km scheduled service for $1600, and is valid for the next four visits.
Can you tell we like the Superb Scout?
Just 300 are coming to Australia, so it’s not going to be a common sight on our roads. But if you’re after a capable, comfortable, handsome family hauler there are few better out there for this money.
We’ll be getting to know the Scout pretty well – it’s with us for the next three months as a long-termer. Based on our initial impressions, life is going to be pretty good.
We had grand plans for the Skoda Superb Scout when we collected it three months ago. Victoria was coming out of Coronavirus lockdowns, ski season was closing in, and the possibilities seemed endless.
As it turned out, the possibilities weren’t endless, and the Superb has instead been used to drive between my house and my girlfriend’s house, with a few trips to the supermarket thrown in for good measure.
This isn’t a full review of the Superb Scout. If you’re after our full breakdown of how the Scout drives (well) and whether it’s good value (it is), you can scroll up for the full review!
Instead, here’s what we’ve learned about the Scout during the tail end of Victoria’s strict Stage 3 and Stage 4 lockdowns.
You can fit almost anything in the boot
This might sound self-explanatory, but bear with me here. With seats that fold almost flat and a broad, low load space, the boot has comfortably swallowed my extra-large road bike, two sets of golf clubs, and the makings of a slapdash backyard gym without breaking a sweat. That was during Stage 3, of course.
Since then, it’s carried my weekly shopping without breaking a sweat. It would carry a family of five’s shopping without breaking a sweat, realistically, or enough booze to throw a party for a platoon of returning sailors.
The netting is handy as well. The three nets are loose enough that you can easily slide things beneath them, but also strong enough to hold big, heavy items like a gas bottle in place. It’s not hard to see how they could be useful, especially if you’re like me and hate bags sliding from side-to-side.
Skoda claims there’s 660L of boot space with the rear seats in place, expanding to 1950L with them folded. The kick-operated boot is handy when you’re loaded up, and the car’s low roof relative to a crossover means I can open the boot without it crashing into the pipes on the roof of my garage. It’s the little wins that count, right?
It’s more efficient than we expected
Although the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine in the Superb is familiar from the Volkswagen Golf R, it’s hauling around more weight around in the Superb, and features a petrol particulate filter for the first time in Australia.
The upshot of all of this is that I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Superb Scout. Even efficient engines can be thirsty when they’re working hard to haul around 1650kg worth of Mlada Boleslav metal.
The reality is there’s nothing to worry about. On the highway heading to our headlight comparison it drank less than 7.0 litres of premium unleaded per 100km, which is impressive from a large, petrol-powered family wagon. The matrix LED headlights were standout performers in the test, too.
It’s less efficient in lower-speed driving, returning between 8.5L and 10.0L/100km on the seven kilometre drive to my girlfriend’s – but given it’s stop/start driving (even with less traffic on the road) that’s still more than within reason. The start/stop system is unobtrusive, and the dual-clutch transmission doesn’t display any jerkiness or hesitancy off the line.
It can be a little bit slow to switch between drive and reverse if you’re trying to parallel park in a hurry.
The interior is nice… but not perfect
There’s no questioning the quality of the Superb’s interior. The seats in particular are brilliant – supportive, soft, and packing some properly toasty bum warmers.
The main source of annoyance? Gesture control. Even though the Kodiaq Sportline I ran in 2018 had the same feature, the positioning of the sensor in the Superb is different, and the system can be a bit hyperactive.
Reaching for the climate control? Here, have a new song. Dropping your phone into the wireless phone charger? Get a new menu page as a free bonus!
Okay, it’s not quite that bad. But I was accidentally skipping to the end of podcasts and changing radio stations often enough it was worth diving into the menus and switching it off. Thankfully, the on-screen icons still enlarge when approached by a wanting hand, even with the swipe-based gestures inactive.
While we’re playing the comparison game, the design behind the wheel of the Superb is a bit dowdy compared to the more upright, interesting dashboard on offer in the Kodiaq and Karoq crossover – and although we’re yet to get our hands on one, the new Octavia appears more modern on paper.
With that said, the ergonomics in the Scout are impeccable. The climate controls are easy to reach, and having proper dials and buttons is a win in an increasingly touch-based world. Given the chaos and confusion that’s dominated this year, there’s something reassuring about getting in the Scout and everything falling easily to hand.
Having a bit of extra ride height is handy
I know the world is going a bit crossover crazy, and traditional wagons are getting rarer. And I know the Scout’s core competencies will all be present when the new Superb Wagon touches down late this year.
But with an extra 15mm of ground clearance, the Scout is slightly better at tackling the speed bumps, steep driveways, and canal fords that dominate the side streets where I live.
Being able to nose straight out of your driveway rather than having to swing on an angle might sound like a small benefit, but when you do it every single day it’s probably not small, it’s quite significant.
The blend of a wagon body and just a hint of extra ride height really is compelling, as much as the pure wagon lover in me wants to say otherwise.
Skoda can keep the silver bash plate, though. It takes away from what is otherwise a restrained, handsome front end.
Other lessons we’ve learned
- The air-conditioned central storage bin won’t fit a bottle of champagne. Although that’s probably acceptable to most buyers, this isn’t called the Skoda Acceptable. Something to think about next time around.
- The in-door umbrella has come in handy a couple of times. If you’re like me and enjoy playing chicken with Mother Nature when you get dressed in the morning, the sturdy Skoda brolly is brilliant.
- I wish the car would remember which drive mode you selected on your last drive. With relaxed damping and light steering, Comfort is my preference in the city, but the Scout automatically flicks back into Normal when the ignition is switched off. I’ve tried diving into the driver profile menus, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to make the car remember my preference.
- Also on the slightly annoying quirks list is the fact the radio automatically quiets down when the parking sensors are active, but doesn’t return to your selected volume afterwards.
All told, there really isn’t much wrong with the Superb Scout. The fact it’s been given another year (at least) in the line-up can only be a good thing.