Skoda in Ireland are aiming for a top five standing over the next 18 months, and a big card to be played in their hand will be their 4x4 offerings.
The brand is one of the fastest growing in the country, but their all wheel drive offerings wouldn’t be as well known as their regular cars. In recent weeks I have driven 4x4 versions of the capacious Superb and the muscular Octavia, and it was an eye opening experience.
The Skoda all wheel drive system is based on the fourth generation of an electronically actuated multidisc clutch (Haldex) which engages the rear axle if necessary. In the worst of situations, drive is transmitted to all wheels. Even with three wheels spinning, the drive will be directed to the one with the best possible traction.
It is all calculated and delivered via computer readings and prompts to give top end performance and control. The benefits are obvious in snow, ice and mud, but for those who may be towing horse boxes or whatever, there are serious advantages too.
My experience was in a 2.0-litre Superb Combi (estate) which is a big, big car (1,865 litre of boot space at max). The strong kicking 140bhp turbo charged unit drove what is a huge bodied vehicle no problem.
However, it was the ease and grace of movement of the car on the road that impressed most of all. Simply put, the Superb was rock solid and that wasn’t at the expense of pace or smart delivery of power. Neither did the fuel gauge indicator move too quickly.
The Superb 4x4 prices begin at €33,445 (saloon). While the car is sizeable when viewed from outside, it doesn’t feel nearly as large in the hand. With top class vision all round thanks to a copious amount of glass, the Superb is easy to handle.
This car has gained a huge reputation for the unreal level of legroom it provides, especially in the rear where Paul O’Connell and the biggest of his Irish rugby mates could stretch at their ease. Now Skoda increased the space level by 19mm to offer not only best in class space, but also best in the class above. Honestly!
The regular Superb is a fair machine. The 4x4 Combi extends the boundaries and scores big too, with superior handling among its most satisfying features.
Skoda Superb Combi Ambition 2.0TDi 4x4 with stop/start system €34,645 (ex-works), 1968cc, 140bhp, 6-speed manual gearbox, 320Nm between 1,750 and 2,500rpm, max speed 210kph, 0 to 100kph in 10.3 seconds, combined fuel economy 5.3l/100km (53.3mpg), C02 137g/km, annual road tax €280.
Standard features on Ambition - Electronic Stability Programme, cruise control, electric and heated mirros with memory function, remote central locking with folding key, Bluetooth hands free phone connections, rear passenger information display, radio and phone remote control on steering, umbrella in door pocket, front cornering fog lights, 16” Helix alloy wheels, silver roof rails, rear parking sensors, Alacntara interior with front heated seats, 7 airbags, Bolero audio system (reads SD or MMC data cards; plays muic CDs’ as well as files in MP3 and WMA format).