WHILE SKODA’S 2017 SUPERB SPORTLINE MIGHT SEEM LIKE NOTHING MORE THAN A TRACE OF LIPSTICK AND A HINT OF MASCARA, it’s amazing what a splash of makeup can do in altering your perceptions.
It is essentially a visual upgrade to the flagship 206TSI 4x4 model, and includes a host of black exterior highlights - from the front grille and fog light surrounds to the mirror caps and side skirts through to a subtle lip spoiler on the sedan and roof rails on the wagon - as well as more aggressive 19-inch alloy wheels and a sporty overhaul for the cabin with fake suede trim on the seats, steering wheel and door inserts.
But it's enough - like a light dusting of make-up - to give the car a slightly different look from the regular, luxury-focused 206TSI 4x4, the darkened pieces providing it with a bit more edge and a little more sinister appeal.
Vehicle Style: Large Sedan / Wagon
Price: $54,290 (excludes on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 206kW/350Nm 2.0 litre 4cyl turbo-petrol | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.3 l/100km
Behind the emo make-up, the 2017 Skoda Superb Sportline’s gear doesn't really alter the Superb's demeanour which remains one of the most pragmatic, sensible and under-rated family cars on sale today.
With the Sportline additions only costing an additional $1000 over the regular 206TSI 4x4 - giving it a drive-away price of $55,290 in sedan form and $56,990 as a wagon - it only adds to the Superb's sensibility and builds on Skoda's value-for-money offering and the peace of mind offered by its recently-introduced five-year warranty, capped-price servicing and guaranteed future value program.
Sure, that's still a fair chunk of coin to spend on a fairly conventional, four-cylinder family runabout, but you do get a lot of car for the money, both physically and in terms of standard equipment, with the Superb.
The cabin is super spacious - particularly in the back seat which has limo-like levels of legroom and headroom - and there's a huge amount of cargo-carrying capacity, no matter whether you choose the sedan (which actually has a liftback tailgate for better access) or the wagon.
The interior also feels well built, the dashboard is logically laid out with clear instruments (which feature exclusively white dials in the Sportline) and simple controls for the air con and audio system, there's good small item storage and plenty of thoughtful touches like sunblinds on the rear windows, a mini garbage bin in the driver's door pocket and umbrellas built-in to the front door recesses.
The Alcantara trim gives all the touch points a nice tactile feel while the diamond stitching on the seat backs elevates the ambience of the cabin.
An eight-inch colour touchscreen multimedia system is quick to connect to Bluetooth devices, the sat-nav is easy to use plus it features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
But we do have a few gripes, as the seats themselves don't offer a lot of lateral support and the dark trim is a little monotonous and would make the car susceptible to overheating under the radiant Aussie sun.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 206kW/350Nm 2.0 litre 4cyl turbo-petrol
- Transmissions: 6sp automatic
- Fuel Economy claimed: 7.3 l/100km
Mechanically, the Sportline isn't any different from the regular 206TSI 4x4, meaning it is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo charged petrol four cylinder that generates 206kW of power and 350Nm of torque, and drives all four wheels through a part-time all-wheel drive transmission via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
While the engine is directly lifted from the manic Volkswagen Golf R hot hatch, it feels much more relaxed yet just as flexible in the Superb Sportline. When everything is left to its own devices, the engine and gearbox work in concert and use the low-rev pulling power to shift quickly into the taller gears in order to be as economical as possible, making it feel effortless when underway - whether it is around town or at highway speeds.
But the Superb can take its time to get moving from a standstill, with the engine's stop-start idle function slow to fire back to life and the dual-clutch transmission equally as lethargic in responding to initial throttle inputs.
Otherwise, it is a thoroughly pleasant car to drive. The steering is on the light side in the way it is assisted, making it easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces, and the suspension has a nice balance between offering a compliant level of comfort and solid, sure-footed handling.
It is also respectably quiet on the open road with good insulation from wind and tyre noise at higher speeds and reasonably efficient, with a claimed average fuel consumption of 7.3L/100km that isn't too hard to match with some long-legged freeway driving.
TMR FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
All in all, the Skoda Superb Sportline showcases a slightly more adventurous side of the Superb's visual personality without changing its overall character.
Think of it like it is an accountant that wears a bit of mascara and a My Chemical Romance band shirt away from the office. It's cool without trying too hard.
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