READY for a little motoring history lesson folks? It is the story of Mr Laurin and Mr Klement, bicycle, motorcycle and car makers. Their company spanned the years 1895 to 1925, and the latter date is a most significant one, marking the year Skoda took up the mantle from Mr L and Mr K.
The title Superb has some significant history too. A car bearing the name was launched in 1934, and was a showcase for Czech engineering, setting new standards for comfort and ride refinement. More than 2500 Superbs were built over the course of the following 15 years, with the final model rolling off the production line in 1949. Following the fall of the Iron Curtain and the 1991 merger with the Volkswagen Group, the Superb became the third completely new Skoda to be launched in the European market, following in the wheel tracks of the new Octavia and Fabia.
Skoda is rightly proud of its heritage and ensures the Laurin & Klement name lives on, borne by its most well-equipped models. So I knew I was in for a treat when I spotted the pioneering car makers’ name on the updated second generation Superb estate, a 2.0 TDI, I was to drive for a week. I also knew I was in for seven days of smooth and comfortable motoring as I have driven and been a passenger in the model several times, and there’s a limo-like quality to the Czech Republic manufacturer’s flagship model.
The bold, fresh exterior styling features Skoda’s new design language. The front of the Superb has been redesigned, with the new bonnet, wings, bumper and grille combining to give a familiar yet expressive new look. The rear has also been completely redesigned. The shape and appearance of the rear light clusters have been extensively reworked, giving a smoother more harmonious look, while the c-shape is now brighter and more distinctive thanks to the introduction of LED strips as standard. Altogether the design enhancements make for an even more engaging and striking appearance. Inside, there are generous levels of cabin space with sector-best rear legroom, allowing passengers to stretch out in comfort.
A comprehensive safety package has notched up a Euro NCAP five-star rating, and hi-tech features include Hydraulic Braking Assistant which supports the driver during emergency braking and can significantly shorten the stopping distance, ASR traction control which helps deliver smooth acceleration, particularly on low-grip surfaces, and Hill Hold Control which activates when starting up a slope, the system delivering smooth hill starts without use of the handbrake.
Key features on all Laurent & Klemin models include colour touch-screen satnav with DAB radio and TV tuner, ten-speaker sound system, heated front and rear seats (front also ventilated), dual zone air conditioning, park assist (includes front and rear parking sensors), panoramic sunroof, boarding spots integrated into electrically folding door mirrors, cornering front foglights, umbrella in rear door compartment (designed so that water from the wet umbrella flows away from the car) and an aluminium rail and partition system for the boot floor to help secure cargo.
And, writing of matters practical, the estate has a mega 633 litres of space in the boot which extends to 1,865 litres with the seats down. Roomy? I half expected to hear an echo when I spoke.
There’s great attention to detail, too, with items such as bag hooks, lashing points, storage nets and a handy LED torch that automatically recharges when the engine is running. A neat optional extra was the powered tailgate. With smooth, usable power from the 170 bhp turbo-charged diesel engine and a silky six-speed DSG gearbox, the car is a sophisticated and satisfying drive, with nimble handling that belies its size, and a truly comfortable ride.
With many luxurious touches in this top-of-the-range model and exemplary build quality, the Superb Estate is a well judged blend. I’m sure Mr Laurin and Mr Klement would have been proud.
Make/model: Skoda Superb Laurin & Klement 2.0 TDI estate
Technical: 170bhp, four cylinder, two-litre, turbocharged diesel engine with 6-speed DSG gearbox
Performance: 0-62 mph, 8.7 seconds; top speed, 137mph
Fuel: 52.3mpg (combined)
For more info visit www.skoda.co.uk