Carry-all estate becomes a 268bhp Q-car in range-topping form; is fastest and priciest the way to go?
The Q-car phenomenon – cars that expertly hide their performance and capability under a bushel – seems to be dying. Traditionally, most of these were large, family-focused saloons or estates (the more mainstream the brand, the better) with unusually powerful engines but barely any visual evidence of that fact to the ordinary punter. With the mainstream large saloon segment flatlining in the face of the Great SUV March, many of these models – hot Ford Mondeos, Vauxhall Insignias, Mazda 6s and the like – have bitten the dust or been diluted to become superficially sporty trim levels. But Skoda is still defiantly holding the Q-car torch aloft with its flagship Superb, driven here in facelifted form for the first time. We first drove the updated Superb in the UK with its 148bhp 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine. This version has knocking on for twice that output from the now-venerable EA888 2.0-litre unit. Yes, that’s 8bhp less than the pre-facelifted car, due to the WLTP-necessitated particulate filter, but it still makes an unassuming family saloon the fastest and most powerful Skoda, outfoxing even the Octavia vRS and Kodiaq vRS. We wish it were even more unassuming for the full unmarked traffic cop effect, to be honest. This engine is now only available in Sportline Plus spec, bringing bigger 19in wheels and a tasteful bodykit and jacking up the price; more on that in a bit. It also drops the ride height by 15mm, which rang alarm bells to a tester hoping it would retain the cosseting, long-legged gait of lesser Superbs.