In this crazy world we live in, many test cars aren’t getting the thorough workout they deserve. Would this be the case for the Škoda Superb iV?
I had it booked for a week, until the perfect opportunity arose – a trip to Swansea and back in a day, with plentiful motorway miles and some dense urban roads too, which is an ideal mixture for testing all the key points of the Škoda Superb iV – result!
So, when the day arrived, I was keen to get some quality ‘seat time’ in the iV. Being the Superb plug-in version, it has a very usable EV range combined with the conventional 1.4-litre engine. This means that not only do you get the convenience and ‘security of a combustion-engined car, but also the benefits of an EV around town, so long as you remember to charge it.
Getting to the motorway, I used mostly EV-only power, which was wonderfully quiet and smooth, with the characteristic ‘shove’ of instant torque when setting off.
Once on the motorway, I chose to switch to ‘hybrid’ mode and told the car to prioritise charging the battery, since I knew that I’d be doing plenty of urban driving at the other end of my journey. This meant that the engine would still cut out while coasting (just as in a mild hybrid) but would prioritise using the combustion engine for propulsion and capturing energy to charge the battery when braking or coasting.
With a solid two hours of motorway driving ahead of me, it gave me plenty of time to evaluate the Superb iV’s long-distance merits. Naturally, it excelled in this area – this is where the Superb is at home, soaking up bumps, providing plenty of creature comforts, and being wonderfully easy to drive over distances. It never once felt like a chore to be driving the Superb iV, though I would’ve liked a slightly chunkier steering wheel, perhaps with heating? Maybe I am being really picky here.
The cabin is well-thought-out if a little plainer to look at. There’s the usual sea of black and grey plastics in here, but it’s all screwed together well and certainly gives the impression it will last a very long time. This is good, as plenty of Superb iV’s will likely hit company car fleets, thanks to the BiK savings of having a plug-in vehicle.
It’s not only the cabin that’s well-designed. The exterior is too, especially the charging port location. Rather than being on the front wing like many cars, it is located on the front and hidden within the grille, meaning it’s not only subtle but also practical, making it far easier to charge as it’s so conveniently located. It’s almost as if the Superb was made to be a PHEV.
Perhaps this is the way to get people to switch from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles by providing a stepping stone that looks and (essentially) behaves the same as the standard combustion-engined car but gets them to understand EVs, charging and the like.
This leads me to my next point. Are PHEVs just a pointless, tax-dodging exercise? Well, yes and no. If you wanted to get a PHEV and never bother charging it, then it is essentially just a tax dodge, but you lose all the benefits of the EV powertrain and end up just dragging around the dead weight of the batteries. Should you want to make use of the EV powertrain, or perhaps want to ‘dip your toe’ into electric car life before making the full switch to EV (or maybe you’re unable to due to lifestyle/infrastructure constraints), then I believe PHEVs certainly have their place. Like everything, it’s down to the driver whether or not they abuse the system, as it were.
For me, PHEVs such as the Superb iV are perfect. I live in an apartment without charging facilities, and there are no nearby rapid chargers. With the ability to charge itself on the go (and in this case, charge very well), the Superb iV blended EV benefits with usability and convenience of ICE.
As a photographer, I often have shoots booked with short notice, meaning I don’t always have the time to drop an EV off at my local 7kW charger, leave it for c. 4 hours, and then pick it up again. PHEVs allow me to plug in when I can to reap the benefits without the inconvenience.
So, with its wonderfully comfortable cabin, a perfect combination of a reliable engine and ‘green’ EV power and voluminous luggage capacity, can the Škoda Superb iV do no wrong?
Well, nearly. This isn’t a car built for fun handling, but I can’t help but feel like it seems far larger than it actually is on a back road, with very little feel in the steering. There’s also the matter of the gearbox, which I found to take just slightly too long to make up its mind when performing a
‘rolling stop’ at a give way sign, which proved annoying at times. Sure, these are minor issues, and I’m sure you’d get used to the gearbox quickly enough, given how slick its operation is when on the go.
The SE-Technology trim level also gives you plenty of creature comforts without breaking the bank, and it looks set to be an extremely successful trim for the Skoda Superb range.
All in all, if you’re looking to set foot into the world of PHEVs for the first time, or if you’re like me and need the convenience of a combustion engine with the smooth, silent city running of an EV, then the Škoda Superb iV is nigh-on perfect.
Author rating: 4.5/5
Kieran Bicknell offers his fresh take on car reviews by making the most of his dynamic, yet detailed approach to writing. Having graduated from university with a BA (Hons) in Photography and spending a number of years as a freelance automotive photographer. Kieran is now putting his knowledge and writing skills to use, with the ability to supply both written articles and imagery. Kieran feels at home in anything from small superminis to the latest SUVs, and relishes the opportunity to drive, photograph and write about anything with four wheels.