1674436180 The Czech station wagon with Volkswagen genes

The Czech station wagon with Volkswagen genes

For those unfamiliar with Skoda, it is a Czech company founded in 1895. First it produced bicycles, then from 1899 motorcycles under the Slavia brand. In 1926, the Skoda name really made an appearance on the automotive landscape.

After World War II, Czechoslovakia came under Soviet influence, which affected automobile production. After building prestige vehicles and their old models in the immediate post-war period, the company began developing more popular vehicles in the 1950s and 60s.

Some will even make the trip to Quebec! It may seem strange, but communist bloc cars were actually sold in Canada. A lot of ink must have been spilled in the middle of the Cold War! And for the anecdote, a certain Gilles Villeneuve will be making his debut at the wheel of a Skoda on the roads around Berthierville.

After the collapse of the USSR, the Czech Republic returned to the market economy in 1991 with the integration of the Volkswagen Group. But it took a few years before the first models developed jointly with the German brand came onto the market. It is also an opportunity for Volkswagen to share its platforms, engines and chassis with another brand in order to achieve economies of scale.

The Czech station wagon with Volkswagen genes

Photo: Julien Amado

Skoda Passat or Volkswagen Superb?

This is also the case with the model tested here, a Skoda Superb Combi, the family version of this sedan that we were allowed to drive in Germany. Beneath the distinctively designed body is the MQB platform used by many Volkswagens including the Passat, Arteon, CC, Golf MK7 and Atlas.

There’s also a Volkswagen engine under the hood of our test model, which is a 2-liter turbocharged diesel 4-cylinder that produces 197 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. This block is assigned to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Again, the affiliation with VW is obvious, as Skoda even goes so far as to use the DSG name on their own website!

The vehicle we drive is a top-of-the-line model called the Sport Line and is equipped with all-wheel drive. It also features a more luxurious interior with square-stitched seats. In this configuration, we are far from a discounted car, because this Skoda is sold for 54,980 euros, which works out to 79,260 dollars!

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Photo: Julien Amado

Inside, you immediately notice the German influence. The dashboard, steering wheel design and layout of the controls are reminiscent of the Passat we saw in Canada. Ergonomics is also one of the vehicle’s strengths, with a large central screen that’s easy to navigate, as well as heating and air conditioning controls that can be operated without taking your eyes off the road. The seats, while a little firm at the base, offer ample support and their fabric is comfortable to the touch. The space is good in the front, very good in the back, and the trunk can swallow two large suitcases and two cabin bags.

When starting off, the 4-cylinder diesel’s thump isn’t the most pleasant, but luckily it subsides as the engine warms up. Unsurprisingly, with that light and overly-assisted steering, the dynamic behavior is reminiscent of the North American Passat. However, the absolute accuracy remains sufficient. Endowed with a comfortable drive, the Skoda Superb excels on the Autobahn, which is a strong point when driving in Germany. On the other hand, its heavy weight is more noticeable on side roads.

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Photo: Julien Amado

Sufficiently dimensioned for the size of the vehicle, the engine is characterized above all by its high torque, which is available from the lowest engine speeds. We usually turn between 2,000 and 3,500 rpm, in any case the 4-cylinder does not get past 4,200 rpm. The DSG box is second-class when it comes to flexible driving, even if its well-known tendency to shift into a higher gear very early is confirmed once again. This has at least the advantage of reducing fuel consumption, which is around 5.5 L/100 km on secondary roads and 6.5 L/100 km at 130 km/h on the motorway. Convincing numbers that compensate a little for the high fuel price

Since we drove in Germany, we were able to step on the accelerator a little harder than usual. It is therefore perfectly legal that we can tell you that consumption remains measured up to 160-180 km/h and never exceeds 8 L/100 km. From this speed, the wind noise becomes really intrusive and the fuel consumption increases, reaching twice the value observed at 130 km/h. Volkswagen announces a top speed of 228 km/h, for our part we recorded 227 km/h on a deserted stretch of motorway. Although one has to admit that it’s pretty anecdotal outside of Germany…

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Photo: Julien Amado

The four-wheel drive did a very good job, in contrast to the “all-season” tires on our test model, which lacked grip on the snow in southern Bavaria. The braking performance was also impeccable, even when going from 220 to 120 km/h in the overtaking lane, which puts a lot of strain on the braking system.

Finally, we appreciate the overall performance of this Skoda with Volkswagen genes. Apart from its high and indecent price in Europe, once converted into dollars, its efficient handling, if not exciting, its moderate consumption and its generous space are notable. Even if this process obviously has no future from a purely Quebecois point of view. The brand has no image with us and could even outshine Volkswagen if it sells its vehicles cheaper in this country.

The most :

Efficient handling
reasonable consumption
Comfortable ride

The small:

Light steering
high price
Weight that can be felt in the corners

In the video: Antoine Joubert presents the Skoda 1985 series