We test the new plug-in hybrid version of the award-winning Skoda Superb…

Cards on table time – we’re huge fans of the Skoda Superb. No other car offers the same blend of value for money, space, clever design touches and dependability. Now, with the launch of the Czech brand’s first PHEV, the best just got better.

Just in case you’re wondering, ‘iV’ is Skoda’s new electric sub brand, starting with the Superb iV and Citigo-e iV, and followed by the Enyaq iV – a fully electric SUV expected to arrive in early 2021.

The Skoda Superb iV is available as a hatchback or estate and pairs a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, jointly producing 215bhp. Drive is to the front wheels through a six speed DSG twin-clutch automatic gearbox.

We spent a week with the estate version (priced from £37,370), which is capable of 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and a top speed of 138mph. More importantly, CO2 emissions are as low as 36g/km and it has a theoretical fuel economy of 175.9mpg and a total range of up to 578 miles.

The low emissions alone mean that there are considerable tax advantages for business users, so a significant proportion of these PHEVs are likely to become company cars.

Skoda claims the Superb iV has an electric-only range of 34 miles, though to us it seemed closer to 20-25 miles. That said, the average daily commute in the UK is around 25 miles, so if your trip to work, the shops or the school run is relatively short, your visits to the petrol station will be rare occasions.

As with all plug-in hybrids, in the real world your fuel consumption will depend on a number of factors, such as whether you charged up your battery before setting off on your journey, your driving style, and the types of roads your encounter.

In mixed driving, we managed economy figures as high as 95mpg and a low as 40mpg, but broadly speaking, on longer journeys it’s on a par with an efficient diesel.

Standard drive mode options include Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Individual. Additionally, there’s E-mode (pure electric), Hybrid (uses both the electric and petrol engines, either together or independently depending on driving conditions) and Sport (unleashes the full power of the car’s battery and engine power).

Charging takes around five hours from a domestic three-pin plug and some 3.5 hours from a home wall box or public charge point. The process couldn’t be easier, thanks to an easily accessed socket behind the car’s grille. Two cables are supplied and there’s no need to think about where to store the cables because there’s a compartment in the boot.

Of course, it’s also possible to charge the battery on the move via regenerative braking (recovering energy otherwise wasted when slowing down or coasting).

The Skoda Superb iV estate is a class act. Not only is it a handsome beast, but it oozes space inside. There’s room for five people to travel in comfort, while the boot can swallow 485 litres of luggage or 1,610 litres with the rear seats folded.

The interior is smart and functional, if slightly conservative. My high-spec Sportline Plus test car came with a 9.2-inch touchscreen and all the connectivity and safety features you’d expect in this price range. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both standard, along with adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and blind spot detection.

Overall, the ride is on the soft side, resulting in a real sense of refinement and comfort in the cabin. There’s also a surprising amount of grunt available, but the reality is that PHEV ownership is more about economy than speed.

That said, grip is decent and more spirited drivers can still enjoy themselves in Sport mode, though it’s worth remembering that as with most plug-in hybrids, the brakes aren’t the most responsive.

As you’d expect from Skoda, there are some clever storage solutions, including an umbrella in the front door and an ice scraper under the fuel cap. The Superb iV also features an ‘E-noise’ sound generator, which is designed to warn other road users that you’re approaching when driving in EV mode.

Verdict: The Skoda Superb iV estate is a stylish, spacious, relaxed cruiser which is capable of impressive economy over shorter distances, if you regularly recharge the battery. Practical, well equipped and solidly built, it’s one of the most impressive plug-in hybrids on the market.

Review in association with www.automotiveblog.co.uk