Seeing red in our Skoda Superb
Our Skoda is packed to the brim with safety features, but they don’t always work quite in the way we’d like them
After getting off to a relatively good start with our long-term Skoda Superb, a number of things about the car have really started to grind my gears, which is unfortunate really, as first impressions were generally positive.
However, having now done a few more miles in the big red Skoda, I’m not quite feeling as forgiving towards it as I was at first – and it’s largely down to one thing: the car’s horribly intrusive safety features.
We’re all familiar with the concept of a Nanny State. Certain tabloids like to bandy the phrase around as if it were going out of fashion, usually in response to some arbitrary piece of health and safety legislation that probably won’t affect you too much in the real world. Normally, I don’t buy into it.
But with the Skoda, the concept has been popping into my head an awful lot. In fact, at times it does almost feel like driving the Superb is like driving about in some tangible version of the so-called Nanny State, which soon becomes irritating.
Don’t get me wrong, manufacturers fitting cars with greater safety features is a good thing, but they don’t always seem to work quite in the way you’d like them to.
One such feature is lane keep assist, which is fitted to our Lauren & Klement specification Superb as standard. The idea is very simple – sensors on the car can detect road markings, and gently adjust the steering to insure you don’t meander into the opposite lane or into a hedge.
In theory, this is a great idea, and out on the motorway, it’s nice to know you have the system on your side. However, the Skoda is a fairly large car, and the roads around home are quite narrow. The result of this is that the car screams at you on the regular – even when you can clearly see you’re in absolutely no danger of colliding with anything whatsoever. Thankfully, you can switch the system off – but that sort of defeats the purpose of having it in the first place, doesn’t it?
However, lane keep assist isn’t the safety feature that winds me up the most. That’ll be the job of the automatic parking brake, which turns the electronic parking brake on whenever the car comes to a standstill. Again, in theory this sounds like a wonderful idea – less time with your foot on the brake pedal means less driver fatigue, and it also means you won’t have to worry about accidentally rolling back into another car.
In reality, however, it’s absolutely infuriating – particularly in situations when you’re in slow-moving motorway traffic, or when you’re trying to park.
Usually with an automatic transmission car, lifting your foot off the brake will allow the vehicle to slowly roll forward when it’s in gear. However, this system means that you have to lift your foot of the brake and then tap the throttle, meaning the car sort of lurches off the line. When you’re trying to perform a delicate parking manoeuvre or creep along slowly behind the car in front of you, this system drives you up the wall.
Again, you can turn it off, but surely it would be better if it could recognise the situation and adapt accordingly? Perhaps that’s wishful thinking, but I hope we’ll start to see this sort of thing emerge as technology advances.
Aside from my issues with the Skoda’s at-times overbearing safety features, it continues to impress with its comfortable ride, frugal diesel engine and generously-specced cabin. As a long-distance motorway cruiser – it makes a lot of sense.
Model: Skoda Superb L&K estate
Engine: 2.0-litre Power: 150bhp, 340Nm
Max speed: 135mph
Mpg: 62.8 (combined)
Current mileage: 16,823