Arnold purchased this Skoda Superb used for $19,000 (including all on-road costs) in 2018. Arnold wouldn’t buy this car again because: “Of the engine and ride quality. In the three years of ownership the Superb was a practical and frugal daily driver, combining a relatively luxurious interior packed with tech and practicality and an elegant exterior design. However, the unrefined diesel engine which felt underpowered and the overly firm suspension left an unpleasant aftertaste, which is a real shame as the rest of the package was quite compelling. If it had the more powerful 3.6L VR6 engine which came with AWD and a more compliant and comfortable suspension setup, I would definitely consider purchasing one again.”
The 3T Superb is based on the VW ‘B6’ platform and has many components shared with the related Volkswagen Passat. Some interior components are shared with the smaller Octavia, which feels cheap and lowers the quality of the cabin.
The benefits from component and platform sharing far outweigh the negatives, with greater parts availability and more competitive pricing.
However, because this generation Superb is getting on in years and less common on the road, some parts are not stocked at service centres and instead need to be shipped from Europe, adding time and cost to certain repairs.
A year into ownership an engine warning light on the dash appeared and wouldn’t go away after a few scans and resets. After some diagnosing, the fault was identified as a throttle body malfunction as well as an issue with the EGR relocating pipe. Both of these components needed to be replaced and modified, with a total bill including labour of around $800.
The replacement throttle body was not stocked anywhere in Australia and needed to be imported from Germany, which took a couple weeks.
The following year, a full service was carried out which included injecting cleaning and some minor interior components replaced (a few light globes and seat buckle). A little while later the car battery was not holding its charge and needed to be replaced.
The DSG transmission was smooth most of the time, but occasionally shifted abruptly and hesitated during taking off. Switching to manual mode helped resolve these faults, but wasn’t perfect either. If the Superb was kept longer than the three years, a transmission service would’ve been high on the list and would iron out most of these issues.
One minor problem occurred after a huge storm, where the front passenger side foot well started filling up with water. Luckily it was only a small amount and was taken care of quickly, with a small seal needing replacement.
Overall, not bad. Servicing and maintenance has been on par with previous vehicles and the experience at dealerships and service centres has been mostly positive.
The first major service was carried out at a local Skoda dealership, which was a fairly pleasant experience. After booking in and going over a few details, I had a brief stroll around the showroom floor admiring the newer Skoda Superb and Octavia RS models, before going on a test drive with the new (at the time) Superb 206TSI wagon which was quite the sleeper.
When it came to ordering and replacing parts (as well as one recall carried out), the positive vibes from the dealership somewhat mellowed. At the time this particular dealership had their servicing department combined with the VW servicing department, as the dealership was next door. This meant waiting longer than usual for staff to assist you and over the phone inquiries often resulted in “we are currently busy, please call back another time or go to our website”.
A shortage of staff at the service department didn’t help either.
When the recall was issued, I booked it into the dealership and dropped it off the following week. It was late morning and not many customers were around, though a few were waiting at the service desk.
When I approached the service department desk, the staff didn’t really acknowledge my presence and kept chatting away on the phone and with each other. After some time, they eventually asked about my enquiry and sorted out the details regarding the repair which would take a day.
The repair bill was quite high, so I tried to negotiate on the price but didn’t have much luck. Fortunately I managed to secure a free loan vehicle which was the least they could do.
For the most part yes. The 3T Superb is filled with plenty of gizmos and gadgets to keep one occupied for quite some time.
It would take too long to list them all, but some of my favourites are; 10-way electric and heated seats with memory, heated rear seats with acres of legroom, panoramic glass roof, built-in navigation system with Bluetooth audio streaming and DVD player, built-in hard drive for storing MP3 files and SD card reader, front and rear parking sensors with a helpful graphical display and a semi-autonomous parking function which had 70 per cent accuracy when it decided to work properly.
The standard 400W sound system came with 10 speakers scattered around the cabin and produced a decent sound, if you spent the time adjusting the basic EQ in the ‘Columbus’ infotainment system.
Other notable features included Xenon lights with cornering function, tyre pressure monitoring system, puddle lights under the side mirrors, automatic up/down windows (including roof) and optional light beige leather interior with matching carpets.
The leather was of great quality and felt supple and supportive. Compared to the equivalent Passat, I though the leather and some interior trim pieces were superior in the Superb, however the switch gear and air conditioning controls were cheap and plasticky as they were shared with the smaller Octavia.
The downside to the luxurious looking beige interior was that it marked easily and a real pain to keep clean. If you parked out in the sun for a while, the leather seats would get quite hot and any dark coloured dye from a pair of jeans or a black leather jacket would instantly transfer.
If I were to purchase this car again, a black leather interior would be the smarter (but boring) choice.
Was I happy with the purchase price? Not really.
At the time, before the rapid price increase occurred during the pandemic, it was difficult to find a low mileage example in the specification I was after (black, wagon, panoramic roof, etc.) and many listings were from a dealer and not private sellers.
If I wasn’t fussy about the spec and exterior colour, I could have saved two or three thousand give or take if I had chosen the cheaper ‘Ambition’ model, which missed out on a few luxury goodies and options.
Performance was adequate and fuel economy was excellent. The 125TDI variant got the EA189 2.0L 4-cylinder diesel engine, which was used in many VW group models and was unfortunately caught up with the emissions scandal. Besides that small (Big?) issue, performance and economy was respectable even after the recall being done.
On the highway, I regularly achieved 6.0L/100km and even lower if travelling on the freeway for extended periods. Around town, I averaged between 6.8-7.9L/100km which included stop/start traffic and small jaunts along 70km/h sections of road.
The best figure I ever got was 4.5L/100km on an extended freeway run to the airport, with conditions being almost perfect (no wind, moderate temperature, no traffic).
Now in terms of performance, the 2.0L turbo diesel unit was a willing little engine that generated 125kW of power and 350Nm of torque. It was just enough power to move the almost 1700kg kerb weight and reach the legal maximum speed limit in a leisurely 9 seconds.
Overtaking was acceptable, thanks in part to the quick shifting DSG transmission, which was quite smooth and imperceptible when driving with vigour.
However, if you decided to calm things down and drive in a sedate manner around town, the transmission would often hesitate and hold lower gears resulting in higher revs. This occurred frequently when braking and going down a steep hill, it would hold onto the lower gears and sometimes shift down on its own.
The torque output of 350Nm was welcome, especially when hauling five adults and their accoutrements. However, due to the front wheel drive architecture, flooring the throttle and channelling all that torque to the front wheels meant torque steer occurred on a few occasions, especially in wet conditions.
If the engine had say 150kW and 400Nm of torque, going to the rear wheels or using an AWD system, it would be much more tolerable when travelling with a load on board and when giving it a quick squirt down a back road.
Another annoying trait with this engine was the lack of refinement. Coming from larger 4WDs with unrefined diesel lumps, I expected this smaller unit to be quieter and operate in a manner that befitted the vehicle type, but unfortunately found it to be somewhat agricultural and noisy when pushed hard.
As I mentioned earlier, the technology on offer in this particular Skoda Superb is frankly, superb!
It has all the bells and whistles and then some. Compared to a modern vehicle, it does miss out on a few safety systems that are now common place in main stream models, such as Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Guidance systems.
I would have liked a backup camera and could have fitted an aftermarket one, but at the time I didn’t think it was necessary as the built in front and rear parking sensors with graphical display in the infotainment system was more than adequate.
The most useful and cherished technology (the parents and kids loved them) was the heated front and rear seats, with three levels of heat intensity. During winter and autumn it was used pretty much every day and was much appreciated when driving early in the morning to a sporting event or a church service.
The suspension setup is standard coil springs all round with MacPherson Struts upfront and independent Multi-link at the rear, however my particular Superb had the optional Sports Suspension fitted which is slightly lower and has different spring rates.
When travelling over rough surfaces such as gravel or stone/brick roads, the ride was fidgety and tended to dart about slightly. When small pot holes and other road imperfections are encountered, the ride becomes unsettled and quite harsh, with vibrations also felt in the cabin.
When driving at higher speeds on smooth surfaces, the suspension is compliant and stable. However, when the road surfaces change and the speed limits decrease, that firmness becomes irritating quite quickly and spoils the otherwise respectable ride.
For wheels and rubber, the car came fitted with Pirelli Dragon Sport 225/40 R18 tires and the optional 18” Sport silver alloys which contrasted the ‘Magic Black Pearl’ paint very nicely.
The tires were of a low profile and when pumped up at the required level, the grip and handling were average at best. Yes, its not a top tier sports tire like a Michelin Pilot Sport 4, but at the very least I was expecting a lot more when it came to handling and grip levels.
Again, when driven in a straight line at speed, the tires and suspension were acceptable, but as soon as you find a few corners and rougher surfaces it starts to fall apart.
I know its not an Audi S4 or Mercedes-AMG C43 Estate, but I thought with the optional lowered sports suspension and bigger wheels and tire package that the ride and especially the handling and dynamics would have a small improvement over the standard kit.
Maybe my expectations were too high, as this generation Superb was more about a happy compromise between comfort, technology and practicality at an affordable price (compared to the more expensive luxury brands).
To conclude, this family wagon ticks a lot of boxes for most people. Massive rear boot capable of fitting two or three road bikes, an abundance of rear leg room (perfect for long legged teenagers), a luxurious leather interior filled with plenty of tech and excellent average fuel economy for city and highway driving.
During my three years of ownership, I drove on all sorts of roads all over Victoria and most of the time it was a pleasant and enjoyable experience. But due to the fairly harsh ride quality and lacklustre handling, I felt let down and slightly annoyed.
Other than that, this car did everything I asked it to do and with little to no fuss.
Would I recommend the 3T Skoda Superb? Yes. It is a comfortable, spacious and very efficient wagon, however I would advise not to pick one with the optional sports suspension and 18-inch wheels.
In terns of petrol or diesel power, if your not travelling 1000+km on a weekly basis, the 3.6L VR6 petrol engine would be my recommended choice as it really suits this type of vehicle and gives it legs which the 2.0L diesel simply does not have.
A little side note: the VR6 3.6L engine is basically a detuned Passat R36 engine and if fitted with a decent exhaust system, can sound absolutely marvellous!