A beautiful estate and a unique sedan – Superb II designers look back

A beautiful estate and a unique sedan – Superb II designers look back

The second generation of the Škoda Superb was the first with an estate version. Its combination of practicality and elegance made it a huge hit. Then, the sedan brought one excellent but unexpected technical and practical feature.

6. 10. 2023 Škoda World

“The second generation was very distinctive and for the first time there was an estate version, which I think worked out really well. The limousine’s design was influenced by the unique TwinDoor tailgate solution, among other things, which made the Superb II both a sedan and a liftback. The interior then continued the trend of distinctive design and took the car a step further,” says Peter Olah, now Head of Interior Design at Škoda. Peter was already at Škoda when the car was developed and he drew up some original (but ultimately unrealised) interior concepts.

His assessment of the second generation is shared by virtually all of his current colleagues in the Škoda Design department. This includes the author of the second generation’s exterior design, Zdeněk Cibulka. “We were tasked with building a large car on the smaller PQ35 platform – that was a challenge in itself. At the same time, I wanted the look of the second generation to be more distinctive, and more original. I based my work on the idea that the car had to be true to its Škoda heritage, but at the same time it should stand out from both the whole model range and the competition,” Cibulka recalls.

zdenek-cibulka-copy_0a4a687b Zdeněk Cibulka
Škoda Design

And he succeeded: the second Superb is an unmistakable car that is still easily recognisable today and no one would confuse it with any other model. “I also assumed that the car should be a continuation of the first generation, so I started with a horizontally inverted shape for the lights and then developed it further,” Cibulka says, describing one of the details.

The second-generation Superb was unveiled as a sedan in March 2008.

Another unusual detail was the aforementioned double opening of the TwinDoor boot lid. At the touch of a button, only the lid opened as in a conventional saloon, but with a different grip it was possible to open the entire rear section with the rear window, making the Superb effectively a liftback. “This solution was anchored in the design of the rear pillars and the entire rear end. I also had to design the aperture for the double-operated bonnet and we spent a long time figuring out where the registration plate would go,” recalls Cibulka. In the end, it moved into the rear bumper, a rather unusual solution. “But visually it helped the Superb a lot,” Cibulka concludes. Moreover, this solution was simpler in terms of production.

The second generation had the innovative Twindoor luggage compartment opening mechanism.

The combi didn’t have to deal with such extra details. “Karl Neuhold, today’s head of exterior design, was given the task of preparing the estate model. He based the design on my limousine design, with the car being identical as far as the B-pillar and new from there on. Karl Neuhold and then chief designer Jens Manske were also heavily involved in the estate at the time and I have to say that they did a great job,” Cibulka says praising the second body variant. “I’d go as far as to say that the second Superb ushered in a new era of truly beautiful Škoda combi cars,” says Peter Olah of the design.

peter_olah-copy_63648a46 Peter Olah
head of interior design at Škoda

New emphasis

In addition to its distinctive design, the second generation could benefit from some other innovations thanks to technological progress. “For example, Škoda started to put more emphasis on wheel design, and the shift in headlight technology allowed us to play even more with details,” recalls Petr Nevřela, who specialises in headlight design at Škoda and worked on the facelift of the second generation Superb. “The lights and other details of the facelift were already based on the vision of head designer Jozef Kabaň. The challenge was to visually enlarge the car, and in the facelift we were able to rely more on LED technology that was becoming more widespread at the time,” Nevřela recalls. After the 2013 facelift, the second generation received unique headlights with daytime running lights that accentuated the eye motif.

The second generation received a new headlight design in a facelift.

The rear lights were also modernised in the 2013.

The taillights were also new, with LED technology again having a greater say in the design. “We developed the idea of the Škoda  signature in the form of the letter C,” says Nevřela, adding, “We also differentiated the individual models hierarchically so that the Fabia then got a C made up of one precision strip, the Octavia two and the Superb after the facelift three LED strips.”

Petr Nevřela
head of exterior lights design

The interior also underwent a transformation, continuing, of course, to use mechanical and electronic components from Volkswagen Group’s “stock”, but this time with no stock surface parts. “With the dashboard, we continued to honour simplicity and tried to make it as visually light as possible while at the same time enlarging it. The high centre console and the division of the dashboard into layers helped us do this. The decorative strip that runs across the entire dashboard to the doors also played a big part in the visual widening, for example. The chrome framing of the low and wide air vents, radios and climate controls again evoked a sense of premium quality,” says Miroslav Jaskmanicki, who designed the second-generation Superb’s interior.

The dashboard accentuated the car’s width.

One detail that the interior design team addressed at the time was the umbrella, which was an heirloom from the first generation. “The second generation may have been stretched and had record space in the back, but we still had discussions about whether the umbrella should be for passengers in the back or in the front,” Jaskmanicki recalls. In the end, it was moved to the front doors, where the umbrella was available for both driver and passenger. This, of course, necessitated a re-tweaking of the door panels to create space for it.

The second generation retained the model's generous roominess, especially in the back.

Surprising, understated

Overall, the second generation further developed the top-of-the-range character of the first, while putting even more emphasis on practicality. It became a truly versatile car for a very wide range of users, including executives, taxi companies and ordinary families. All of these customers were swayed by the car’s comfort and generous interior space that has been so characteristic of the Superb across generations. “What I like about the Superb in general is that you have the option of driving a limousine without being too ostentatious. It can be a normal family car, but one in which you experience the comfort of much more expensive cars. It is actually an incredibly reasonable car and the second generation fundamentally supported this concept,” says Petr Nevřela.

Škoda Superb Combi II

Another designer, Jiří Hadaščok, agrees: “When I first sat down in the second-generation Superb, I didn’t really have any key expectations. Then I drove it on business trips to Munich over a period of two months and suddenly I was surprised by what the car gave me. I set off early in the morning, and after four hours I got out of it in Munich feeling fresh and rested,” he recalls. “I had small children at the time and I used to take them in the back in child seats. The car was so roomy that I couldn’t actually reach them from the driver’s seat,” he smiles. Of course, the generous space then remained for the third generation, which brought more innovations in 2015.

dsc6478-jiri-hadascok_96f9cb3f-copy_35099480 Jiří Hadaščok
exterior design coordinator

Take a look back at the first-generation Škoda Superb in this article.

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