SKODA SUPERB 162TSI
FAMILY sedans are disappearing from our driveways. Once the default choice of middle Australia, they have been forgotten in the rush to board the SUV bandwagon.
As the end of the road nears for the Falcon and Commodore and as Camry production switches overseas, the “big car for a big country” might be consigned to the history books.
Car makers aren’t ready to give up the ghost just yet, though, which is good news for prospective buyers.
They are throwing everything bar the kitchen sink at their mid-size cars to make them competitive in a shrinking market. That means there are some very competent, well equipped cars at very good prices.
We’ve picked three of the best: last year’s Car of the Year finalist, the VW Passat, its new Skoda Superb stablemate and the updated Subaru Liberty. In many ways, the Superb is the closest of these three to a Falcon or Commodore. It has the most power and torque by a comfortable margin, which means it delivers effortless performance when overtaking or cruising on a country road. It also has acres of rear leg and head room and a jumbo boot.
That boot is an important point of difference here — it doesn’t have a rear parcel shelf, which means that despite outward appearances, it isn’t really a sedan.
It’s what the Europeans call a liftback — the boot and rear glass are one piece and when you remove the parcel tray and fold the rear seats you have a load area that is bigger than some SUVs.
With the rear seats in place there’s 625L of space; fold them and it expands to 1760L. In comparison, Australia’s most popular SUV, the Mazda CX-5 has 403L and 1560L.
The rest of the package is compelling as well. The layout and the quality of cabin finishes are familiar to anyone who’s owned a VW.
It’s formal and dark inside the cabin but the look is lifted by a strip of green ambient light PRICE $39,990 plus on-roads s WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km CAPPED SERVICING $1197 over 3 years SERVICE INTERVAL 12 months/15,000km SAFETY 5 stars, 9 airbags ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 162kW/350Nm TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto; FWD THIRST 6.4L/100km (95RON) DIMENSIONS 4861mm (L), 1864mm (W), 1468mm (H), 2841mm (WB) WEIGHT 1463kg BOOT 625L SPARE Temporary TOWING 2000kg 0-100KM/H 7.0 secs through the cabin. The menus for the satnav and radio are easy to use and all the speedo and tacho dials have big, easy to read figures.
There are some thoughtful touches too, including a car parking ticket holder on the windscreen and small rubbish bin with a removable bag in thee driver’s door.
Apple CarPlay and Android d auto provide access to phone apps and will read text messages aloud (a feature also on the Passat).
On the road, the Skoda is composed and capable, with a sportier edge than the other two here, thanks to its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine. The front wheels sometimes