Volkswagen Passat 140TDI Highline wagon 2016 review
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the 2016 Volkswagen Passat 140TDI Highline wagon with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the Skoda Superb 140TDI wagon with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Whoever was responsible for naming Australia’s ever-growing army of big things (you know, the Pineapple, Banana, Prawn etc) was definitely onto something. Note, that’s ‘onto’ something, as opposed to the person who dreamt up the Giant Mushroom in Belconnen, who was likely just on something.
The point is, life would be a whole lot easier if everything was just called exactly what it is. Imagine how many accidental visits to Canberra could be avoided, for example, if Australia’s capital was appropriately renamed Filled With Politicians. Eco-friendly drivers could buy a hybrid Celibate, and even she-Trump Pauline Hanson might still be taking fish and chip orders if her political party was renamed the… anyway, you get the point.
So what of Skoda’s impressive wagon? Well, it would still be called Superb.
Launched locally in March - and tested here with the range’s only diesel engine option, the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder 140TDI - the Skoda Superb Wagon is a sleek, slick offering that provides a level of practicality that bests most small SUVs in a delightfully car-like package.
More than half the buyers have opted for the wagon body shape over the sedan
But that alone doesn’t mean anyone will buy one. Not only is the Skoda Superb 140TDI Wagon a product of the VW’s Groups other, other car brand, it is also (as its name suggests) a station wagon – a body style that, if not entirely killed off by the relentless rise of the SUV, is undoubtedly in its death throes.
But there’s clearly a little fight left in the segment. In fact, of the 332 examples of the Superb sold this year, more than half the buyers have opted for the wagon body shape over the sedan. So we spent a week with the Skoda Superb 140TDI Wagon to find out why.
The Skoda Superb 140TDI Wagon is powered by the sole diesel in the Superb range: a punchy 2.0-litre, four-cylinder that’ll produce 140kW at 4000rpm and an impressive 400Nm from 1750rpm. The diesel is paired with the only available gearbox in the Superb family, the VW Group’s six-speed DSG automatic.
Skoda promises a 0-100km/h sprint of 7.7 seconds and a 233km/h top speed.
Practicality has always been the sleeve-hidden ace of the station wagon, and Skoda’s Superb Wagon doesn’t disappoint.
Interior space, even for backseat riders, is impressive. Taller than its sedan sibling, the Superb Wagon offers more head room for both front and rear passengers, which lends an airiness to the interior. The focus for this third-generation Superb – both the sedan and wagon – was interior space, and front seat passengers get 39mm more elbow room than the outgoing car, while rear leg room is almost unbelievably plentiful.
Opt for the Wagon, and your one-touch power boot will open onto the kind of storage space that’s the envy of most small SUVs. Rear seats up, you’ll get 660 litres of space (60 more than the outgoing model). Lower the seats, and that increases to 1950 litres.
The rear seats are separated by a pull-down divider that houses two cupholders, boosting the Superb Wagon’s cup-carrying capacity to four, with extra space for bottles in the door sills. The rear seats behind the driver and passenger are also home to the Superb’s two ISOFIX anchorage points.
Niceties abound, too. From the cargo hooks to the hidden umbrellas in the driver and passenger doors to the easy-to-reach button in the boot that’ll lower both rear seats without having to reach in and pull a lever on the seats themselves.
There was once a time when the most flattering compliment you could pay a station wagon would be to praise its, erm, personality, but the Skoda Superb 140TDI Wagon cuts a terrific looking figure on the road.
Its wide stance, high belt line and sharp body creases give it both a premium and athletic appearance, and it looks particularly impressive fitted with Skoda’s optional Image Pack ($1,700), which, among some other things we’ll come to in a moment, adds 19-inch alloys and a sports suspension tune that drops the ride height by 15mm.
It’s lovely inside, too. Our test car was dressed all in black with brushed aluminium highlights across the dash, creating a cabin ambience that, if not quite luxury, certainly feels premium and well put together.
The Skoda Superb 140TDI Wagon sits in the middle of the range, above the entry-level 162TSI and below the 206TSI, and will set you back $45,690 – a $1,700 premium over the same-spec sedan.
For that, you can expect a sat nav-equipped eight-inch touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, paired with an eight-speaker audio system. Adaptive cruise control, three-zone climate control and heated front seats also arrive as standard, as does a long list of safety tech that we’ll detail in a moment.
Inside, you’ll get leather-appointed Alcantara seats, a three-spoke leather wheel with all the expected controls and what Skoda refer to as its Chrome Interior Package, which adds splashes of bling to the rev counter and speedometer frame, air vents, radio, air conditioning control and gear lever.
Our test car was also fitted with the $1,700 Image Pack which, along with bigger wheels and lower suspension, adds keyless entry and push-button start, wheel-mounted paddle shifters and Skoda’s Driving Mode Selection which allows you to flick between Standard, Sport, Comfort, Eco or Individual drive modes. Less impressive, it also adds a strip of blue LED lighting that runs the length of the dash, offering a strange kebab shop ambience to an otherwise slick interior treatment.
The $4,700 Tech Pack, also fitted to our test car, adds Adaptive Chassis Control, an upgraded 12-speaker Canton stereo and a nifty hands-free boot system which opens the tailgate for you when you wave your foot under the rear bumper.
The Skoda Superb 140TDI Wagon scores a sizeable list of safety equipment, but the more impressive systems are available only as an optional package.
The entire Skoda Superb range is fitted with a rear-view camera, AEB, front and rear parking sensors, fatigue warnings and Skoda’s Passenger Protect Assist, which tightens seat belts and closes windows (and sunroof, if fitted) if it senses an impending accident. Also as standard is Multi-Collision Braking, which takes over the brakes and hazard lights once the driver’s airbag has been deployed, and VW’s XDL system, which reduces wheel spin.
Tick the $4,700 Tech Pack box, however, and the 140TDI will add lane assist, blind spot detection, rear traffic alert as well as Skoda’s Traffic Jam Assist, which brakes, accelerates and steers for you in slow-moving traffic, and Emergency Assist, which will not only sound warnings and swerve the vehicle to wake up a sleeping driver, but will bring the car to a complete stop if the driver doesn’t react.
The Skoda Superb range scored a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when tested this year.
The Skoda Superb Wagon 140TDI sips a claimed/combined 4.8-litres per hundred kilometres, just about on-par with our test vehicle’s trip computer read-out. All in all, it should be good for a theoretical driving range of 1,000-plus kilometres from its 66-litre tank.
The power delivery from the Superb’s diesel engine takes some getting used to. There’s a noticeable, lag-induced flat spot early in the rev range, before what feels like every bit of the engine’s 400Nm arrives with a rush, causing the Wagon to lunge forward and produce an unexpected squeal from the front tyres on take-off. It doesn’t take long to find the pedal’s sweet spot, though, and the engine quickly reveals itself as set-up for real-world conditions, with plenty of low-down torque and enough power to propel you to the legal limit in a hurry.
Steering is sharp in every drive mode, but is noticeably heavier in Sport, which also stiffens the suspension and makes the accelerator more responsive. It’s no set-and-forget mode, though. The suspension is too jarring to leave it on permanently, so you’re better off engaging it when you need it.
When you do, the Superb feels planted through corners, and the steering responds to the tiniest of inputs. The downside, though, is an engine that doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the car. While there’s no shortage of low-down power, it does run out of breath on engaging hill climbs, even with the pedal pinned.
The entire Superb range is covered by Skoda’s three year, unlimited kilometre warranty, with 12 month/15,000km service intervals.
The Superb Range falls under Skoda’s capped-price service schedule, and servicing the 140TDI Wagon will set you back a total $1,127 for the three required services over the warranty period.
While it takes Anthony Mundine levels of self-belief to label your product ‘Superb’ right in its title, the Skoda Superb 140TDI Wagon deserves to draw customers back to motoring’s most ignored segment. Blending the space and practicality of an SUV with the impressive driving dynamics now expected from a VW Group offering, it’s a genuine best-of-both-worlds proposition.
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