£34,840 - £38,500 Price range
The Skoda Superb 280 Estate has a huge boot, a modern, spacious interior and the ability to outrun many hot hatchbacks in complete comfort. Think of it as a family car for someone who just has to be first away from the traffic lights.
With this version of the Superb Estate, Skoda has covered so many bases that finding a rival that can match its talents is very difficult – a VW Golf R Estate and a SEAT Leon ST Cupra 290 have similar engines and pace, but can’t match the Skoda on practicality and ride comfort. On the other hand, a Mercedes E-Class Estate can be very comfortable, but you pay dearly for that premium badge.
The biggest difference between this 280 model and a regular Superb is under the bonnet. There resides a version of VW’s much loved 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine which pumps out a whopping 280hp, hence the name. This engine is available elsewhere in VW Group models with up to 306hp, so in the Superb it feels refined and unstressed… until you floor it and experience the 5.8-second 0-62mph time which is pretty impressive in a Skoda that’s large enough for even the most ardent IKEA fan.
The additional power hasn’t changed the Superb’s driving experience one bit – it’s still easy, confident and pretty roly-poly in corners. The benefit of the cosseting ride is clear once, after several hours of driving, you emerge fresh as a daisy – the hushed cabin and comfy seats make the Superb 280 a great motorway cruiser with some serious pace available at a moment’s notice.
That instantaneous response is partly due to the excellent DSG gearbox that’s standard on the 280 Estate model. If you’re just pootling along it slurs shifts just like an old-school automatic gearbox, but put it in Sport mode and it shifts with the speed and severity of a racecar. Another standard feature on the Superb 280 Estate is the four-wheel-drive system which makes the Superb 280 an ideal car for British conditions.
However, there is a flip side to having such a large car with such a potent engine, and the relatively expensive running costs are a small chink in the Superb 280 Estate’s armour. Skoda says it can average 40mpg, but start enjoying the powerful engine and that number quickly plummets by at least 10mpg. The big Skoda emits 160g/km of CO2. However, it’s worth noting that even though a 2.0-litre diesel Superb Estate nearly doubles the fuel economy, similarly powerful petrol-engined rivals have similar running costs to the Superb 280 Estate.
Aside from that slight niggle, the Superb 280 Estate has to be one of the best family cars on sale. There are huge amounts of space for passengers (only really big MPVs surpass it for rear legroom) and the boot is much larger than the class average. Practical touches such as the ice scraper incorporated into the fuel-filler cap, the umbrella in each of the rear doors or the velcro-lined luggage dividers only add to its family car credentials.
You can only have this most-powerful Superb Estate in the range-topping SE L Executive or L&K trims, so a wealth of standard equipment adds another feather to the Superb 280 Estate’s cap. All models get xenon headlights, a touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, leather upholstery and 18-inch alloys.
The problem is – even after knowing how versatile and capable the Superb 280 Estate is, most buyers will pass it over for two main reasons. Some BMW or Mercedes buyers simply don’t want to be seen in something with a Skoda badge, whereas others will realise the 2.0-litre diesel Superb Estate has 95 per cent of what makes the 280 great while using less fuel. It’s a shame because, with high performance and immense practicality, the Skoda Superb 280 Estate is one of the best all-rounders on the market.