Skoda Superb: Ridiculous Rebadge

Skoda Superb: Ridiculous Rebadge

It’s rare to see actual rebadges in today’s world. Mostly, cars people call “rebadged” are a lot more than a grille swap and some new wheels. Usually they share mechanical components and architecture, but not actual body anels

That isn’t true in this case.

Behold the 2001-2006 Skoda Superb, which is precisely identical to the Volkswagen Passat in basically every way. How they thought this would fly is absolutely beyond me, though they may have hoped that changing the tail lights meant no one would notice.

Well, I did notice, and I’m appalled. (Which means I will write this article and probably never think of the car again, except whenever someone says the word “superb.”) Presumably, the Eastern Europeans who comprise Skoda’s target market didn’t have such a negative reaction, since Volkswagen actually sold a version of the Superb in Europe with a Rolls-Royce Phantom-style umbrella in the door. So your chauffeur can shield you from the rain as you step from your Passat clone.

Anyway, the latest Superb is much different than the Passat, which is a vast step forward for the company. And there’s a silver lining: if you have a B5.5 Passat and you live in a non-Skoda Superb market, you can probably do a full conversion. Slovakian immigrants would be impressed. Especially if you had that door umbrella.

6 Responses to “ “Skoda Superb: Ridiculous Rebadge”

  1. tentacles says:

    You’re not wrong, Doug, but you should probably qualify this slightly. The B5 Superb is actually 4′ longer in wheelbase and length than the European/American B5 Passat sedan, because it’s actually an identical rebadge of the Chinese market LWB Passat, which at some point was called the Passat Lingyu.

    Wikipedia lays it out for you, but I noticed because I’m in China and see both cars pretty regularly on the street.

    The thing about arbitrarily extending the wheelbases of cars is that they tend to compromise side impact crash protection, something that may concern people and regulators in rich countries, but the Chinese and Eastern Europeans are a bit more relaxed about. At least, that’s the reason Bob Lutz gave for why the LWB versions of the Cadillac STS/SLS and Holden Commodore (Buick Park Avenue) weren’t ever going to make it out of China. Then after Lutz left GM imported the LWB Commodore anyway as the Caprice cop car, so who knows why GM does anything really.

    • Doug DeMuro says:

      I never knew it had a longer wheelbase! Which makes it even stranger that it looks so damn much like the B5.5 Passat.

      • Dara says:

        They also have a different interior, rumour was that it was meant to go on sale as the Passat Plus in Europe but that project was cancelled so Skoda picked it up. They were cheaper to buy than the equivalent Passat and with the massive amount of room in the back a lot of them ended up as Taxi’s doing huge mileages. My Dad has a 06 and until sitting in it I’d never been in a car with more room in the back than in the front.

  2. Sammy B says:

    I was in Ireland last year and they gave me a rental Superb (TDI & manual!). I definitely could tell it was a Passat!

    Fun side note: My son (6 yr old) gave me a Lego Minifigure to take w/ me (as a reminder of him), so I took a bunch of pictures w/ the minifigure in clear view. Sort of a travellog for the little dude. I took one next to the “Superb” badge and he asked back “What’s ‘Super B’?”. That became the minifig’s name and how I now refer to these cars :)

    Sorry for the diversion….
    Great site Doug! I came over from TTAC and really enjoy your work over there as well!

  3. Laurens says:

    If you want a rebadge, try Audi A4 B7 –> Seat Exeo

  4. bruce says:

    the Skoda was also available in a full hatchback that looked identical to the sedan. i dont know if the rear body structure was redesigned for the purpose, or whether VW planned this capability all along – so i cannot comment on torsional rigidity. but the usefulness of a Passat sized full hatch (taxi drivers loved them, and i certainly would have wanted one as a general purpose car) was certainly not lost on BMW with their magnificently ugly gran coupes, or whatever they are called.

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