Toyota Camry Atara SX 2016 review
Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 Toyota Camry Atara SX with specs, fuel consumption and Verdict.
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Richard Berry road tests and reviews the 2016 Skoda Superb 162TSI sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Go you, for getting here. When most people think of a mid-large sedan for not a lot of money they normally head straight to a Holden Commodore, Toyota Camry or Mazda6. Not you though, you're looking at a Skoda Superb, well maybe you weren't at first but you're here now and you're about to find out that the not-so-obvious-choice could be a better buy for you than the usual suspects.
The Superb is Skoda's flagship car and this is the base spec of the range – it's the 162TSI sedan and it sits below the 140TDI diesel and the king of the range, the 206TSI 4X4.
So is the base level of the brand's best car worth buying? What does it miss out on that makes me sad? And is that real crystal?
This third-generation Superb launched locally in early 2016 as a wagon and sedan. The model always had classy ambitions but both look leagues better than the previous version. The sedan has especially done well from the redesign having swapped its hump back for a fastback roofline.
Skoda calls it a sedan in Australia, in the UK it's referred to as a hatch. What is it then? Well it has a liftback style boot opening which makes it a bit of both.
Even in the base spec the cabin is stylish, plush and comfortable, It's far better than it needs to be.
Many of the sharp-edged styling cues shown on Skoda's Vision C Concept found their way into the real world on this Superb, including a nod to the brand's Czech origins with a Bohemian crystal-style design to the bits in the headlights. And no, it's plastic but still rather nice.
Measuring 4861mm bumper-to-bumper this new Superb sedan is 28mm longer than the last gen car while the front and back wheels have been moved 80mm further apart, so now it has a smaller nose and bum. The new car is 47mm wider from door handle to door handle, too and that extra girth and increased wheelbase length means more room for you inside.
Even in the base spec the cabin is stylish, plush and comfortable, It's far better than it needs to be and that's Skoda's shtick and not-so-secret-anymore weapon in competing with its own sibling brands like Audi and Volkswagen and also as a point of difference with its rivals.
Practicality is a Skoda strong point, too. The cabin is vast, when I sat in the back of this new one for the first time that spaciousness was the first thing that hit me - the door on the other side looked miles away. Legroom is excellent too, I'm 191cm and sitting behind my own driving position there was a good 10cm between my knees and the back of the front seat.
There's two cupholders in the fold down armrest in the back and a three-position holder for two cups in the centre console up front. Each door will take a medium sized bottle, too.
Bootspace in the sedan is an enormous 625 litres. In comparison the Holden Commodore sedan has 495 litres.
Luggage nets come standard in the base Superb, I want to meet their inventor and kiss them, they're that helpful. A full week's family shopping fit into the hammock stretched across the boot. There was more than enough room for our pram to fit in along with all that as well.
There's umbrellas in the front doors – yup, like a Bentley but for hundreds of thousands of dollars less.
Lighting in the cabin is great too – there's maplights over the front seats and directional lights mounted in the centre of the roof.
Then there are the cool clever things you might not notice at first and all standard features – like the pockets in the side of the front seats, the pull-up sun shades for the rear windows, tablet holders in the back of the front seats, the rubbish bin, the air-conditioned glovebox, the B-pillar coat hooks and the illuminated footwells. Then there's the umbrellas in the front doors – yup, like a Bentley but for hundreds of thousands of dollars less.
It sounds like Skoda has nailed functionality totally and it almost has but there's room for improvement. My wife had trouble closing the liftback – it's not too high, just too hard for her to pull down. The gas struts need to be strong to support the weight of the tailgate when open but it seems overcoming that to close it requires a decent amount of force. I could do it easily so it meant I could show off and be manly, which doesn't happen much.
And those large, wide opening doors which make it super easy to get in and out also wanted to stab me with their pointy ends every time I opened them from the outside, until I learnt to give them a wider berth.
The Skoda Superb 162TSI sedan costs $39,990, which is $4000 less than the 140TDI and it gets exactly the same standard features.
These include an eight-inch touch screen with sat nav, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, heated front seats with power adjustable driver's seat, three-zone climate control, tinted windows, adaptive headlights and 18-inch wheels.
But it doesn't get proximity unlocking and this makes me a bit sad because I would swap all the heated seats in the world for doors that know I'm there and unlock. It's not a laziness thing, it's a-running-to-the-car-in-the-pouring-rain-with-a-child-in-your-arms-and-then-having-to-stop-to-fish-through-your-pockets-for-the-key thing. And there's no start button – you'll have to go all old school and turn the key in the ignition. I know... shocking.
It's so well balanced and responsive with great connectivity between the driver and the car that's confidence building.
You can option the keyless entry and start through the $1700 Image Pack.
Compared to its rivals the 162TSI Sedan is $2550 more than the top of the range Camry Atara SL, Commodore Evoke sedan is $35,490 and the Mazda6 Touring sedan is $37,290 with the petrol engine.
Skoda has a logical naming system to its variants – the 162TSI has a 162kW four-cylinder turbo petrol engine. Power is nice for going faster and faster but torque is the strength of the force going to the wheels and at 350Nm it's impressive for a four cylinder. There's significant pub ammo in the fact that it's the same 2.0-litre unit used in the Golf GTI hot hatch too.
The transmission is a six-speed DSG dual-clutch auto which is not as smooth as a traditional torque convertor automatic, but it's clever and fuel efficient.
The 162 TSI has a stop/start system which does a lot to save fuel. Skoda says the 162TSI should drink at an average combined rate of 6.4L/100km or 8.0L/100km in urban driving. Our car drank at 11.7L/100km but that was all city driving and I tend to mash the accelerator pedal like it's a funnel web spider that's just appeared.
Excellent, excellent, excellent. I drove the Superb at its launch on great twisty roads through forested hills and already knew it handled beautifully, it's so well balanced and responsive with great connectivity between the driver and the car that's confidence building.
The front seats with their generous under thigh support are more comfortable and supportive than any household furniture I've ever owned.
But I was suspicious because at launches they take you to lovely places with awesome roads. I wanted to drive it day-to-day on Sydney's terrible concrete patchwork of roads to see what the ride was like. It's frankly beautiful – comfortable and composed.
The cabin is sound-booth quiet, the front seats with their generous under thigh support are more comfortable and supportive than any household furniture I've ever owned – perfect for long-distances in the saddle.
I've never been the DSG's biggest fan, but this one is good. I love the way it intuitively knows I'm coming hot into a corner and downshifts exactly where I would have.
Those putting kids in will find two ISOFIX points on the two outside back seats and three top tether mounts across the rear row.
The Superb 162TSI is covered by Skoda's three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing needs to be done annually or 15,000km intervals. During five years of ownership first service is capped at $315, the second at $387, the third at $495, the fourth at $786, the fifth at $495 again. Skoda stresses that this doesn't cover additional items, oh and it also recommends changing the horn every six years on cars with alarms – that'll cost $142.
The 162TSI is the value-for-money pick of the Superb line-up and has a cabin refinement that its rivals just can't compete with. This new-generation sedan is good looking with its fastback roofline, it's practical and it rides and handles impressively. Now if only everybody else knew that instead of just rushing off to the usual large car suspects.
|118 TSI Ambition||1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$14,400 – 20,240||2016 Skoda Superb 2016 118 TSI Ambition Pricing and Specs|
|118 TSI Elegance||1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$27,100 – 35,970||2016 Skoda Superb 2016 118 TSI Elegance Pricing and Specs|
|125 TDI Elegance||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP||$18,700 – 26,070||2016 Skoda Superb 2016 125 TDI Elegance Pricing and Specs|
|140 TDI||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP||$14,200 – 20,020||2016 Skoda Superb 2016 140 TDI Pricing and Specs|