Someone once said, ‘Good things in life come in small packages’. He probably proclaimed this after the 20th tequila shot entered his blood stream one night. Who cares, because well, it seems to be true, at least for some things in life. But then there are a whole host of other places where small is frowned upon. Like a large saloon with a small-ish engine. This would be followed by vivid imagery of a car struggling to climb up a hill or to overtake a big rig. So when Skoda announced they’d be bringing in the new Superb flagship with a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol motor to India, I thought someone at Skoda had been having too much to drink. So what if it made 160 bhp? In a car that weighs nearly 1.6 tonnes, it ought to feel like an old hag bullock cart.
Skoda were kind enough to send us a car for test, and to add some spice to the proceedings, we threw in its old nemesis, and the current best in class, the Honda Accord, for a comparison. After all, the Accord, with its punchy and proven 2.4-litre engine and 177 bhp should make short work of the Superb on the acceleration charts and then it would be a small matter of comparing the other parameters and then a winner would emerge. But then, I compared the acceleration charts, and soon enough my face had started to turn pale. And small. This one was going to be a more interesting comparison story than I’d set out to believe.
STYLE & DESIGN
The distinguishing factor about the last Superb’s design was that it was... er, hardly distinguished. Other than coming across as the older brother of the Octavia, it wasn’t exactly as appealing, and never hid its bulk either. With the new Superb, Skoda has managed to give it some unique identity, but this car is less intimidating than before. Shorter front and rear overhangs reduce the visual bulk and despite being 30 mm longer than before, the wheelbase is shorter by a similar amount. It doesn’t have a well balanced design like the Accord, but it more than makes up for it with some interesting features, like the pair of pinch lines on the bonnet and the strong crease lines that run from the grille to the A-pillar that give this car a feeling of rigidity. There’s no lack of chrome and despite those ‘mercury on a petri-dish’ tail lamps, the rear end stands out from among other Skoda products.
Where the Accord puts its best foot forward is the way it manages to come across as being inoffensive. There are no radical lines like its predecessor, but it doesn’t come across as boring looking either. But it is huge. Not just visually, but even when you are behind the wheel. Where one can feel comfortable with the Superb after just 15 minutes behind the wheel, it can take hours before you get a hang of those edges with the Accord. At nearly five metres, it is also half a foot longer than the Superb. It does have a somewhat athletic stance that is marred by the 16-inch wheels that make the car look slightly under-tyred. Unlike the Superb, you do have a choice of body kits to choose from that give you the option of making the Accord look sportier, but that won’t make the car go any faster than it does. Even then, in standard trim, like the one you see on our test car, it’s got the measure of the Superb in the looks department.
Skoda Superb: ***1/2
Honda Accord: ****