Saturday, September 5, 2009

Skoda Superb

The presentation of the new Škoda Superb was accompanied by great expectations. Not only the potential and the success of its predecessor have set the sights at a high level, tradition itself is an obligation. It should be remembered that there was already a magnificent car with the name of Superb, bearing the Škoda badge back in the thirties and forties. Even at that time, the car strengthened the reputation of the long-established Czech company as being among the best car manufacturers in the world. When it was launched in 2001, the first modern Škoda Superb represented a new start, a re-entry into a segment of the market that had been neglected throughout the difficult years of the planned, Communist economy. The first of the modern Superbs came, saw and conquered. It was clearly positioned to compete against mid-range segment cars such as the Renault Laguna, the Ford Mondeo or the Hyundai Sonata. However, the results of a number of comparative tests carried out by independent motoring journals showed that the Škoda Superb has been able to hold its own in comparison to competitors in the upper-medium segment. In masterly fashion it put them in their places and was successful in comparison with, among others, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Peugeot 607, the Alfa Romeo 166, the Renault Laguna and the Jaguar S-Type. In a test involving the Škoda Superb V6 2.8 the magazine Auto, Motor and Sport described the car under the headline „Czech Example", referring to the absolutely unbelievable price-performance ratio of the spacious medium segment saloon - one that none of its competitors could hold a candle to. The top of the range model from Škoda has even established itself in the very conservative fleet market sector where normally only cars from brands already established in the fleet market are found.
Skoda Superb

The appearance of the new Škoda Superb is striking in its form. The implementation of the Škoda Auto design philosophy is mirrored in the strong three-dimensional form of the front grille, while its finely modelled chrome trimmings afford it a substantial and solid look. The contoured lines of the bonnet extend to the headlamps, intensifying the horizontal direction of these lines, giving the new Superb its appearance of sitting solidly and self-assuredly on the road. The markedly emphasised front wings underline this feature. They give the new Škoda Superb its characteristic image which, in turn, characterises it clearly as a member of the Škoda family.

The lines of the roof are an eye-catching feature. While its predecessor had a rounded, domed roof, that of the new Škoda Superb is elongated and blends elegantly into the radius of the C-pillars. This in itself is a clear indication of the exceptional interior spaciousness and, especially, the unexcelled room offered to the rear seat passengers. Chrome trim around the windows of the Ambition and Elegance models flows into a three-dimensional element at the C-pillar, giving the car a look that is normally only to be found in a higher class.

The number plate holder is not integrated in the boot cover but instead is positioned lower down on the bumper. This creates space for the large Škoda logo, which radiates self assurance from its position in the centre of the vertical face of the boot cover. Below this, the attractive rear view of the Škoda Superb is enhanced by the model designation. The two-part tail lamps with one half integrated into the rear wings and the other integrated into the boot cover are true to the design language used to date across the brand. In daylight they excel with their straight-lined and elegant form; in the dark, they light up in the typical night-time design of the latest generation of Škoda cars, forming a C-shaped light. The new Škoda Superb is mounted on up to 18 inch wheels, effectively underlining the image of solidity and sporting elegance communicated by the bodywork.

The interior

In spite of being almost identical in overall length to the previous generation Škoda Superb, the new Superb exceeds the already generous interior measurements of its predecessor in almost all aspects thanks to the transverse engine design. This begins in the front, where space has been gained by moving the gear position. The central tunnel has been designed in a much leaner form. And, in the rear, the knee space has been increased by 19 millimetres, affording the passengers unique travelling comfort. The new Škoda is 4,838 millimetres in length, 1,817 millimetres in width and has a height of 1,462 millimetres.

The interior, with its finely tuned mix of materials and excellent workmanship, satisfies the needs of even the most demanding customer. The dashboard with its wave-shaped design groups the operating elements into sensible individual functional units. All of the primary functions are concentrated around the steering wheel and quick access is guaranteed because of the logical location. Thanks to the unique design, erroneous operation is practically eliminated. In certain trim levels, the steering wheel includes multi-function buttons for the operation of the radio unit, MFA and a mobile phone. Chrome inlay in the centre of the newly designed, leather wrapped steering wheel reflects the clear V-shape form of the car's front.

This design cue is also reflected in the look of the central console. It includes the new Columbus navigation system with advanced, operator-friendly, touch screen technology and a 30 GB hard disk for rapid data access and also the dual-zone climate control system. In addition, there is the large capacity glovebox. Further storage space can be found to the left of the steering wheel, attractively designed door storage spaces, drink holders on the central tunnel and pockets on the rear of the front seats.

One new item is found when switching on the engine. The speedometer and tachometer dials move from their starting positions to the top of the dials and then return to zero, a quick and simple indication that they are functioning properly.

The foam cushioned dashboard surfaces, all friendly to the touch, are available in three different colours and three different versions of the decorative strips. Depending upon the model chosen, these ensure an exceptionally elegant, a stylishly sporting or a simply timeless ambience.

Premiere for an automotive advance: the Twin-door concept

The shape of the bodywork, with its balanced proportions, the timeless elegance of its lines and the stylistic elements which combine to make Škoda automobiles unique, incorporates a new feature that will once again become the benchmark in the automotive world. Although the design in this class has retained the traditional hatchback concept, the new Škoda Superb now has a tailgate which places practically no limits on what can be transported. The unique, patented "twin door" variable boot opening, designed by engineers at Škoda, offers an extremely practical, functional and well thought out solution. Depending on what is required, either only the boot lid alone can be opened when smaller items are to be stored. Or, by operating two small switches on the edge of the boot lid to activate the electro-mechanical release, the Škoda Superb driver can lift the entire boot lid together with the rear window, allowing bulky items to be loaded. The third rear lamp in the rear window lights up briefly signalling that the electric motors have locked the closing mechanism. The rear aperture is then almost doubled in size. When the rear seat backs are in an upright position, the boot will accommodate 565 litres of luggage - more than 85 litres more than its predecessor - if they are folded forward, the volume increases to 1,670 litres - a volume which even estate cars in this segment can scarcely equal.

The boot is fitted with high-quality carpeting. Below the solid base plate there is further space for storing personal objects, and underneath this is the spare wheel (except in the case of the GreenLine versions). There are eyelets at the side of the boot space to secure goods being transported while practical folding hooks provide perfect hold for shopping bags.

And, as if that were not enough, the third generation Škoda Superb also comes up with a whole range of further solutions and construction measures that far exceed its predecessor's capabilities. For instance, a combination of high-strength and "normal" steel with increased ductile strength is used in the chassis and the A- and B-pillars, and so affords occupants greater safety in a head-on or side collision by means of planned energy absorption.

A major benefit is in the weight reduction afforded by this modern construction. In spite of the complex layout of the bodywork, which exceeds all requirements for to pedestrian protection and crash safety this modern construction makes the car's weight only slightly higher than that of its predecessor.

Always safe in its stride: the chassis of the new Škoda Superb

The chassis of the new Superb uses Škoda's modular strategy - it uses modules from the Škoda Octavia (VW Golf) and Volkswagen Passat chassis. However, Škoda has taken these modules, adapted them and added new elements, giving the car its own driving character. The MacPherson wishbone front suspension is housed in an aluminium axle to provide greater kinematics while simultaneously reducing axle weight. The Škoda Superb's suspension system increases driving comfort and reduces tyre noise. Apart from this, as a result of numerous acoustic innovations, the new Škoda Superb is among the quietest cars in its class. The thickness of the front side window panes has been increased to 4.85 mm, noise attenuation packages reduce vibration and, thus, noise while new sealing materials reduce wind noise.

In developing the chassis, the Škoda Auto engineers have placed special emphasis on creating a balanced relationship between agility and comfort. Uneven road surfaces are mastered excellently. Body roll is almost completely suppressed thanks to careful configuration of the chassis components. The new electro-mechanical steering ensures greater driving dynamics. . Its feel has been optimised and the steering conduct and tracking provide the best feeling for the road surface and traction conditions.

The Škoda Superb has a completely new form of coordination between the ABS and ESP systems. The object of the development was to provide the new Škoda Superb with commanding and comfort-oriented properties without limiting driving pleasure in any way. "And, we have achieved this target, across the entire range" says Dr. Eckhard Scholz, Board Member for Technical Development at Škoda Auto. Careful adaptation of the individual chassis components gives the new Superb properties which are every bit as exciting as they are balanced and safe even in critical situations.

Premiere for intelligent lighting: AFS for the Škoda Superb

Best visibility is created not only by the generously proportioned front windows and the marked increase in the size of the exterior mirrors of the Škoda Superb but also by the Superb's new headlight system. AFS (Adaptive Front Light System) clearly improves visibility, adapting to the driving conditions and enabling the driver to recognise obstacles in the road sooner and to react quicker.

At lower speeds, town lighting and the cornering light function are active. In city traffic, at speeds between 15 and 50 km/h, the cone of the light beam is expanded to provide better lighting along the edge of the road. At high speeds and when driving on the motorway (90 km/h and higher), the motorway light function is active. In this mode, the electronic control sets the lights so that the left lane is also illuminated. In addition, the light beam is raised slightly in order to illuminate the road further. The third mode of AFS is similar to that of the current dipped headlamp function. This function is activated on country roads within a range of speeds from 50 to 90 km/h. AFS also possesses a cornering light function which is active at speeds of from 10 km/h and higher.

There is a special setting for driving in the rain which reduces the light reflection of the raindrops and, additionally, the headlight mode can be adapted for driving in countries where you drive on the left so that you do not blind oncoming traffic. In this setting, the curve lighting system is deactivated. AFS is combined with Bi-Xenon headlights in the new Škoda Superb. Škoda Auto is the first brand within the Volkswagen Group to provide AFS with this extended range of functions. As an attractive detail, the headlamps bear the Škoda Superb model designation on their upper edges, a feature which will be also found in future Škoda models.

No compromises: safety on all roads

Passenger protection in the new Superb is of the highest level. Depending upon equipment level and version, there are up to nine airbags on board. Two front and side airbags as well as head airbags at the front and back provide all-round protection. The knee airbag for the driver and the side airbags in the rear are completely new. Anti-spin regulation (ASR) is standard in all versions of the new Škoda Superb. Pedestrian protection measures reduce the danger of injury considerably in the case of an accident. ESP and ABS with Brake Assistant are part of the standard equipment depending on country. The hill hold function facilitates starts on hills and prevents the car from rolling backwards when the brake is released.

State-of-the-art technology under the bonnet: the engine range

The range of engines for the new Škoda Superb fulfils the needs of every customer and presents a wide-ranging variety. There are three petrol and three diesel engines available. All of the engines operate with direct fuel injection and excel as a result of their low fuel consumption and emission values.

The weight of Škoda's top model weighs from only 1,425 kg so that even the basic engine models have no problem in providing plenty of power.

The basic diesel engine is the 1.9 litre TDI PD, providing an economically-priced but nevertheless powerful entry into the Škoda Superb program. The four-cylinder provides 77 kW (105 HP) and reaches its torque peak of 250 Nm at 1,900/rpm. With an average fuel consumption of 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres and CO2 emissions of 151 g/km, it provides both excellent fuel economy, low emissions for its size. Nevertheless, the driving characteristics are impressive: this model reaches a top speed of 190 km/h and the basic diesel engine accelerates from 0 to 100 km in 12.5 seconds. A manual five-speed gear transmits the power to the front wheels.

The next higher level of power in the diesel engine range is provided by the 2.0 TDI PD, supplying 103 kW (140 HP) Its peak torque is 320 Nm at between 1,800 and 2,500/rpm, propelling the car from 0 to 100 km/h in 10.2 seconds and provide a top speed of 207 km/h. The combined fuel consumption figure of 5.9 litres per 100 kilometres is very moderate. The CO2 emission is 155 g/km. Comprehensive acoustic finishing touches considerably reduce the noise level of the two pump-injector units.

Even higher demands are catered for by the top of the range 2.0 TDI which works with common-rail direct injection. It provides 125 kW (170 HP) powering the car to a maximum torque of 350 Nm between 1,750/rpm and 2,500/rpm. Consumption is 6.0 litres for 100 kilometres in combined traffic conditions; the CO2 emission is 159 g/km, among the best in class. The potential of this engine range is evident in the high level of driving performance. Top speed is 222 km/h with acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.8 seconds. The two more powerful diesel engines are coupled with a manual six-speed gearbox, while an automatic six-speed DSG is also available. A diesel particulant filter is supplied for all versions as standard. In countries in which there is not adequate fuel quality, the 1.9 TDI PD/77 kW is delivered without a diesel particulant filter.

Direct injection is available in all petrol versions. The TSI 1.4 litre, four-cylinder version is making its debut in the Škoda Superb where, despite its small capacity, it nevertheless provides 92 kW (125 HP) and 200 Nm torque peak at a level of 1,500 to 4,000/rpm. Only 10.5 seconds are necessary for the small, powerful engine to accelerate the new Superb from 0 to 100 km/h, while top speeds of up to 201 km/h are possible. Thanks to the down-sizing concept, the consumption for this petrol engine drops to the extremely favourable figure of 6.6 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. The combined CO2 emission is at a figure of 157 g/km.

The main petrol engine in the new Škoda Superb will be the 1.8 TSI with 118 kW (160 HP). It provides peak torque of 250 Nm in the range from 1,500/rpm to 4,200/rpm and propels the front-wheel driven Škoda Superb to a top speed of 220 km/h. Acceleration is quick, needing only 8.6 seconds from 0 to 100 km; the combined fuel consumption lies at a figure of 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres and the CO2 emission figure at 180 g/km. As an alternative to the manual six-speed gear, the 1.8 TSI can be supplied with the automatic seven-speed DSG.

The top engine for the new Škoda Superb, which will be available shortly after market launch, is the new 3.6 litre V6 FSI with 191 kW (260 HP) and a maximum torque of 350 Nm between 2,500/rpm and 5,000/rpm. Its combined consumption is 10 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres; the CO2 emissions are 238 g/km. The top engine powers the car from 0 to 100 km/h in only 6.5 seconds a top speed of 250 km/h. The 3.6 V6 FSI is supplied with the automated six-speed DSG and, so that the immense engine power is translated properly into driving power, permanent four-wheel drive. Power distribution is designed to be variable. A fourth-generation Haldex clutch monitors the power electronically. During normal driving traction conditions 100% of the power goes to the front axle. When needed, the 350 Nm of torque can be sent to the rear wheels. This guarantees safe and reliable driving on all road conditions - not only in ice and snow during winter conditions.

Of a high standard but not unattainable: the equipment

The equipment in the three trim levels, Comfort, Ambition and Elegance, is of a high level. In addition, there is an extensive package of additional equipment available. Rain sensors, Light Assistant, Bi-Xenon headlamps with AFS, tyre pressure monitoring, braking and hill-hold assistant as well as parking assistant and a parking steering aid are only some of the additional features offered. The parking assistant works with a 4/8 sensor system; the parking steering aid has been developed by the Volkswagen Group and has been adapted especially by Škoda Auto to comply with the demands in the new Škoda Superb. It assists the driver when manoeuvring into a parking space.

A further increase in comfort is provided by heated seats that, in the new Superb, are available not only for the front seats but also in the rear. The ergonomically designed rear seats increase travelling comfort to the highest level. In the front seats, the driver and co-driver enjoy excellent side support and, thanks, to the excellently designed ergonomic seating surface and back provide the driver with a relaxed driving feeling even on long trips. Especially in winter, a parking heater, an engine-independent car heating system can be ordered for factory installation.

The electronic package leaves practically nothing to be desired. The features range from a high-tech navigation system with touch screen function and hard disc storage through to a top-class audio system with powerful high-end loudspeakers, CD player with MP3 connectivity in the Jumbo Box for external storage media or a card reader. All of these components are harmoniously integrated into the wave-shaped dashboard.

Well proven and unique fittings afford the new Škoda Superb the same user-oriented character which is a feature of all Škoda automobiles. Thus, the solution for holding a wet umbrella has lost none of its functionality. The water resistant storage space is in the inner panel of the left rear door. A drainage system draws off the rainwater so that the umbrella undergoes "self-drying". When the door is closed, the umbrella storage space is invisible. The straight line design of the door does not break the line of the door panelling.

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