I'm a dad now so I've got a big fast Skoda
Sure, the Skoda Superb is practical, but this one's got 272 horsepower and 19-inch wheels, so I'm pretty sure that means I'm still cool
Phill is a freelance motoring journalist who has worked for loads of places, including Autocar, the Daily Telegraph, Evo Middle East and AutoTrader.
Part 1: Welcome
Well, 2020 has been quite the year so far. No, not the pandemic, although yes, that’s been a thing too. No, I mean I started the new decade as a hip young 30-something, free from any responsibilities, and now, six months in, I’ve got a small child to look after and I’ve just turned 40.
Probably at least one of those things has forced me to reevaluate my life, and what’s important. And yes, the pandemic’s done that too. Having the freedom to go to the pub whenever I want. Getting my hair cut. Driving a fast yet impractical car. Those things seem to come from another world.
I won’t be going near a pub for a while (too many thousands of dead people to risk it for a pint), and I’m actually getting used to my Beatles hairdo and scruffy beard. But maybe I’ve got the answer to the car thing.
Please welcome my new long-termer. It’s a Skoda Superb hatch, in Sportline Plus trim, with a 272-horsepower, 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and all-wheel drive. In theory, this makes it a very versatile piece of kit. It looks like a sensible, dadly machine and it’s got bags of space in it for Junior and her assorted accoutrements. But it’s also got sports seats, 19-inch alloys and will go from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. This is the car that makes me a responsible parent, but also lets me do 155mph (limited) if I can persuade someone with a private road to let me have a go on it.
Big wheels. Thin tyres. What will that do to the ride?
There are a few options fitted to my Superb – more on those in a moment – which takes the price of it, should you want one the same, to £41,070. That’s quite a lot of money, but then this is quite a lot of car. And it’s one that I’m already fairly familiar with, as a couple of years ago I spent my own hard-earned money on a leased Superb Estate SE Business. And it was brilliant. It had a 150-horsepower diesel engine, an automatic gearbox and a huge boot, and it wasn’t even remotely sporty save for its red paintwork. But it did everything I wanted it to do, namely cover large distances in comfort, carry all sorts of crap and not cost me too much in fuel. Admittedly, I did have a Renault Clio 172 Cup parked at home next to it in case I wanted some excitement. And I don’t have that any more. Because baby.
What I’m intrigued to see with this much more exotic Superb is whether it can still replicate that calm, relaxed, easy cruising experience of my old red estate. Will the 19-inch alloys and sports suspension knacker the ride? Will it be too big and heavy to be fun? Will it actually work well as a dad wagon? And with SO MANY THINGS TO CARRY AROUND NOW, will I wish I’d got an estate instead of a hatch?
This is just the bare minimum of stuff kids apparently need to leave the house
Stay tuned to future updates for the results, but in the meantime, here’s a quick run-through of what we’re dealing with. It’s got Brilliant Silver metallic paint, which contrasts nicely with some of the sporty black styling bits that the Sportline Plus trim gives you. Check out the glossy dark grille and boot lid spoiler. Peep my black window surrounds. Throw your hands up for the shiny black folding door mirrors. It’s stylish, but subtle. Could it be a genuine sleeper?
Other features you need to know about: full matrix LED headlights that’ll keep full beam on but track oncoming drivers and avoid dazzling them. Big 9.2-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay. Heated front seats. Umbrella compartments in the front doors (although only one umbrella, for some reason). Adaptive cruise control, which should go nicely with the seven-speed DSG transmission. Sure, I like manual gearboxes, but they get tiresome in traffic.
Options? Yes. I’ve got £345 of metallic paint and the virtual pedal for £160, which should let me open the boot by just waggling my foot underneath the rear bumper, which could be useful when lugging the wheels to an overcomplicated pram and pushchair system. And, crucially, £645 of Canton sound system, for crystal clear renditions of Baa Baa Black Sheep. Or Metallica. We’ll see.
There it is. It’s on my drive. Now I just need the pandemic to sod off a bit, so I have somewhere to go.