Skoda Superb review - the best large family car to drive? - Engine and gearbox

Hot hatch powertrains and talented chassis makes latest Superb better than ever to drive

Evo rating
Price
from £19,060
  • Styling, body control and broad engine range
  • Still not a true drivers' car

Skoda offers a wide range of powerplants in the Superb, based around four key engines – a 1.4-litre TSI petrol, a 2.0-litre TSI petrol, and 1.6 and 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesels.

The entry-level 1.4 TSI and 1.6 TDI are worthy power units and in 148bhp form the 1.4 is also very clever, using Active Cylinder Technology to shut down a pair of cylinders on light engine loads to save fuel. They aren’t however engines that will excite you in terms of performance, not in a car that weighs 1375kg in its most basic configuration.

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Better suited to the large bodyshell are the 2.0-litre petrols and diesels. We’ve driven the most powerful variants of each – the 217 and 276bhp TSIs (the latter only available with 4x4), and a 187bhp diesel – a 148bhp model is also available.

The lower-power 2.0-litre petrol is still brawny, producing 258lb ft of torque between 1500-4000rpm – a peak matched by the more powerful version, across a wider 1700-5600rpm range. The 187bhp diesel has the measure of both cars, with a 295lb ft peak – albeit developed over a narrower band, from 1750- 3250rpm.

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Effectively, the 217bhp petrol car uses the engine from Volkswagen’s Golf GTI, while the 276bhp engine is the SEAT Leon Cupra 280’s power unit – developments of the EA888 four-cylinder used across the Volkswagen Group empire. Unsurprisingly, the latter is the engine we'd choose - despite being contained in a vastly different car, the engine's eager character is recognisable and it feels just as potent, partly thanks to the fact the quickest Superb is barely 55kg heavier than the hot SEAT.

On all occasions, the cars we’ve driven have been equipped with DSG dual-clutch transmissions. There’s no manual available on the 2.0-litre petrols, while 187bhp TDIs feature manual or automatic gearboxes on front-wheel drive models, and DSG-only for all-wheel drive cars.

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