Following my recent blog about the Citroen C5 bemoaning what appears to be the beginning of the end of the traditional ‘Dad car’, it’s good to know that Skoda still makes something perfectly suited for that role. Don’t know what I mean by ‘Dad car’? Think big saloon/hatchback of the non-premium variety, nice to drive, unpretentious and capable of dragging an ungrateful family to a wet Welsh holiday without resorting to a roof box.
In old-fashioned terms, that meant something like an Austin Ambassador, Ford Granada or Renault 25. In more recent times, you’d be looking at a secondhand Rover 600 or Saab 9000 – or, perhaps, a Citroen C5 or Ford Mondeo – but never an Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz. In recent years, we’ve added the Skoda Superb.
Ah, the Superb. I’ve always had a soft spot for these. Ever since the first-generation model went on sale in the UK (heck, I even preferred it to the Volkswagen Phaeton), which combined masses of rear legroom with a nice, soft ride, and won the hearts and minds of a generation of minicabbers in the process. I remember dashing to Poland in one on a long weekend and loved every minute of it – including setting the cruise control in Germany to 125mph.
In many ways, utilitarian – VW Passatesque – interior aside, that car was the perfect model for displaced Rover 75 owners, unable to buy a new one since the manufacturer’s demise in 2005. The second-generation Superb was a little more diverse in its appeal, with a split tailgate that could replicate your dad’s favourite saloon, and open up a traditional bootlid. Or it could open up like a tailgate. Nice…
The sharp new third-generation car carries its ‘Dad car’ credentials with honour. It’s big, has little in terms of aspirational appeal and continues to major (in modern terms) on value for money. It looks like a sleek saloon, but the new Superb is actually a hatchback – and, just like its two predecessors, it’s enormous inside. Perfect transport, then, for a week at the coalface of Britain’s tough motorway network, then.
Oh, yes. Regular readers will know that, out of the VW Group’s range of marques, it’s Skoda that lives closest to AROnline‘s heart by some margin. Many believe that Skoda’s renaissance is an exemplar of how BMW could have made a go of Rover.
The Octavia has always been the thinking man’s alternative to the Audi A3 or Golf, and the Skoda Rapid is an all-time great. But this Superb leaves me happy to report that it is still possible to buy a great car, and not shout a four-ring chorus of ‘LOOK AT ME‘ at your neighbours.
This one was a bit naughty, though. With a 2.0-litre TFSI engine under the bonnet, pushing out 275bhp for a maximum speed of 155mph and a 0-60mph time of 5.5 seconds, isn’t just a great ‘Dad car’, it’s a brilliant Q-car. With four-wheel drive added into the mix, this Superb is a great way of quietly getting from A-to-B quickly, and without fuss.
Oh, and what a hoot it is – not just because it’s so fast, yes that’s lovely, but it’s the way it metes out that pace. You’ll surprise anyone this side of an M3 in it, too – and won’t induce road rage when you loom large in Insignia-Man’s rear-view mirror.
We’re getting off track, though. The existence of the Superb confirms that the ‘Dad car’ is alive and well. It’s not the only one you can still buy new in the UK, but I’ll go out on a limb – the Superb, surely, is the best ‘Dad car’ of them all these days. It’s the Rover 600 or Saab 9000 for the 2010s – and, give it a few years, just like its Swedish forebear, the Superb will be the thinking dad’s load hauler of choice.
Me, I’ll save my pennies for the turbo one – I’ve always liked Saab 9000 Aeros and Rover 620tis, and I reckon this is their spiritual successor.
What say you?