For just a grand more than the regular version, the 2017 Skoda Superb Sportline 206TSI adds flair to a proven family-friendly offering. It is, dare we say it, superb.
We’ve already raved about the standard version of the 2017 Skoda Superb 206TSI, and now there’s a more style-conscious version for those who prefer a little more extroversion from their extra-practical Czech family car: the 2017 Skoda Superb Sportline 206TSI.
The new Sportline model sits atop the Superb model range, and is offered as a sedan (from $51,990 plus on-road costs/$55,290 drive-away) or the wagon you see here (from $53,690 plus on-roads/$56,990 drive-away).
If you missed the news about what you get for the extra $1000 over the standard 206TSI versions of Skoda's flagship model, the list is long. There are 17 additional styling accoutrements inside and outside that help separate the Sportline from the regular 206TSI. You can read all about them here.
But what is clear from looking at this version compared to the existing one we reviewed late last year, is that this wagon certainly cuts a fine figure, and it has the power to justify its sportier looks.
Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine producing 206kW of power (hence the name) at 6500rpm and 350Nm of torque at 1700rpm. It has a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle-shifters, and it has permanent all-wheel drive.
It is an engine that is characterful and strong, with easily enough pulling power to execute quick overtaking moves with effortless ease, while it also has an inherent eagerness in sport mode to rev out – there’s even a Performance Monitor in this Sportline trim that you can dial up on the centre screen to allow your passengers to see if you hit that magic number (please don’t attempt this while driving!). That screen can also be configured to display bar pressure, g-forces, engine temperature and oil temp.
The sport mode has a significant impact on the drivetrain calibration, with the transmission eager to hold onto gears rather than up-shift early, meaning you will rev it out to the redline fairly often if you’re pushing it hard.
The shifts are lightning quick at pace, too, though you might find yourself taking control and upshifting a little earlier to keep feeling the push of the engine’s torque at your back. It will also downshift under braking with a nice throttle blip to keep things entertaining.
It’s not just the drivetrain, though. Sport mode also adapts the suspension if you option the Tech Pack for $3400, not to mention the steering, climate control and cruise control. Even the dynamic cornering lights change based on the drive mode.
Instead of going into a full assessment of the lighting on offer (the bi-xenon headlights are very good, by the way), we’ll focus on the sportiness of the car, given it’s called the Sportline. And, it must be said, it doesn’t disappoint for a big wagon, but it’s no RS.
For instance, there’s just a touch of understeer in tighter corners due to the all-wheel drive system attempting to feed power to the fronts and direct the action, too, but it’s barely noticeable unless you’re really pushing it. The steering, too, could do with just a touch more feel to it, but it is direct, accurate and nicely weighted to offer adequate involvement.
The amount of traction on offer is good, and the Pirelli Cinturato P7 rubber in 235/40/19 spec providing the type of grip you’d expect from a sporty family wagon. Drive it too hard and the tyres will squelch a bit, but again, this isn’t an RS. There’s very little body-roll through corners, too, but climbing through steep hairpins can see the body of the car wobble a tad.
If you’re more inclined to tootle around in normal mode – and, let’s face it, you probably will – there’s still enough push on offer to keep you moving along swiftly, with the engine’s sweet-spot being between 2000-4000rpm.
Incidentally, the transmission will upshift around 4000rpm to maintain constant progress, but the throttle is a bit doughier. You’ll need to be prepared when taking off from traffic lights, too, as the combination of the engine stop-start, turbo engine and dual-clutch transmission can make for sluggish take-offs at times. If you drive gently and don’t rush, though, it copes adequately.
Fuel use for the Superb 206TSI is rated at 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres, and during our drive – which was more vigorous than we'd expect most buyers to be – we saw a still respectable 10.1L/100km. The suspension in this mode is almost the perfect balance between comfort and control, rolling over bumps confidently and never crashing over pockmarks or sharp-edged speed-humps.
You can feel the road beneath you, but it’s not dire, and if you think it’s too sharp you can always choose comfort mode, which softens the damping even further and makes it, er, superbly comfortable. And for a wagon, the amount of tyre roar in the cabin is inoffensive – even on coarse-chip roads it isn’t deafening.
As we’ve made clear in the past, the interior packaging of the Superb makes us wondering how they fit so much space in between the glass and panels. It is, in all seriousness, amazingly well thought out. The space is phenomenal, limousine-like, even: acres of legroom, lots of headroom even with the optional panoramic sunroof, and good toe-room, too.
The sportier trim of the Sportline model means the backseat looks designed for two occupants rather than three across, and it’s fair to say that the middle seat wouldn’t be our pick (the middle spot misses out on the optional heating, too). But it is acceptable in terms of width, though the large transmission tunnel eats into foot-room.
The front sports seats have pockets on the backs for storage, while the door pockets are carpet-lined all around to stop things from rattling, and there are bottle holders in all four doors, too. The middle seat – when not in use – can fold down to create an arm-rest with cup-holders, and there’s a ski-port there, too.
We also love the ‘simply clever’ touches like umbrellas stowed in the front doors, and the brilliant mesh netting in the boot to keep things from moving around. The boot itself is excellent, too, with 660 litres of space with the rear seats up and 1950L with them folded down, which you can do by pulling the levers in the cargo area. The electric boot lid is a luxe touch, too.
The rear widows have sun-blinds to keep little ones in the shade, while the standard third-zone climate control and vents will also help keep it cool/warm in the back. There are dual ISOFIX fittings for the outboard seats, as well as three top-tether points; the only thing it misses out on is a USB port to keep the kids’ devices charged up, but there’s a 12-volt outlet in lieu of that.
Up front there’s an 8.0-inch media screen with satellite navigation, Apple Carplay/Android Auto connectivity and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and it’s one of the easiest systems in the game to learn. It can be a little slow to load on start-up, and there’s no digital radio reception.
The materials are all decent without being class-leading: the Alcantara trim on the doors and seats is lovely, while the dark head-lining also helps in making it feel a touch more exclusive. We reckon the red highlights on offer are better for eye-catching, but the standard plastic trim finishes on the doors are a nice enough outcome, though the piano black trim gets filthy very easily.
The Sportline dials are reasonably easy to read, though we found ourselves concentrating more on the digital speedo on the driver info screen.
And while it is the Sportline, it doesn’t want for anything in terms of safety. Standard are nine airbags (dual front, front side, rear side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee), a rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automated braking, rear collision warning with automated braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assistance.
Then there’s the warranty: Skoda buyers receive cover for five years/unlimited kilometres with roadside assistance included if you service it at an authorised Skoda dealer (there are about 50 locations nation-wide).
The company has a choice of pre-purchase service plans, too, with three years/45,000km of cover priced at $1299 all-inclusive, or a five-year/75,000km plan at $2650.
In summary, the 2017 Skoda Superb Sportline 206TSI is a car that doesn’t do anything dramatically wrong. It is sporty enough, it is more than comfortable enough, and it’s also hugely practical. Is there a better family wagon out there? Probably not in this price bracket.
By Matt Campbell