The BMW 330Li scores much better when being driver by chauffer. Ride quality and suspension is better for a person in the rear seat.
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In 2021, I was able to grab a Skoda Superb and owned it for almost one year and three months. I had bought Skoda from Gurugram, after owning BMW X1 for one year. I made the “upgrade” as I am more of a sedan person, however, I have previously owned only crossovers, SUVs and off roaders following the advice of few people of importance. Now, am not getting into an SUV ever.
Anyways, the idea here is to highlight few things as any car buyer in the segment of 40-60L has many things to weigh in as offerings are starkly distinct even if they look similar on surface. I will not get into why not Audi, Merc or Camry and focus only on these two vehicles and both bought from Gurugram.
Let’s look at availability, discounts, buying experience, after sales, servicing, repair experience, issues, key differences, quality, driving dynamics (non-technical) & value for money from a layman’s perspective from a person who both drives and is driven by, in the ratio of about 30-70%
Skoda Superb Sportline:
This was available at a week’s notice, fresh from factory as per my choice of external and internal colour. Dealer stock was also available. I only wanted black interiors and once I experienced it at dealer, it removed all doubts as I did not like beige and cognac interiors of L&K variant. It’s totally personal choice and no offense to anyone. Alcantara fabric is definitely a better alternative than leather as I am vegetarian.
This was immediately available as dealer’s stock and with the colour of choice. Though I wasn’t a big fan of tan/oyster colour nor the leather, there was no choice offered in this. The carbon black colour, though it’s a maintenance nightmare is worth buying.
I pinned couple of Skoda dealers against each other and the discounts kept raining. Finally, I believe that I really bought it at a very good deal. The BMW X1 was also sold to them, with a price better than other market players and dealers. Guess, Superb is a hard to sell vehicle after all.
Again, I received a very good deal from BMW as well and substantial discounts as I picked two cars, an X1 and the 330Li together. I also sold Superb to them at the value I was getting from market. This of course, with a lot of negotiation. I am so glad to have picked with petrol 2L X1 prior to the engine change, however, I am no expert on the current version.
This is where Skoda won substantially over BMW.
Skoda Superb: The whole process was smooth, no push of accessories, no hidden charges, nothing that wasn’t previously discussed. Ceremony was done nicely. One key factor was that Skoda salesperson had a lot of knowledge of the vehicle and he gave a proper demonstration of each button. Nothing was done in a hurry and there was no glitch. They charged me 500 Rupees for an optional number plate frame later, which I believe is fine. RC was done within a week and handed over. Car was in immaculate condition with no dents, chips etc.
BMW: The process here was smooth too with no push on accessories, no hidden charges etc. The ceremony for X1 wasn’t as good as for 330Li. The let’s lift the curtain and clap wasn’t there. There was no demonstration offered on the vehicle but may be the salesperson assumed as I had an X1 previously, nothing was needed. However, both vehicles were damaged by bird drop etchings (2-3dozens). We realized this on 3 series sooner than the X1, may be due to the darker multi tone colour. Initially BMW tried to resolve the issue, then they refused suggesting repainting of car (at their expense). Finally, when GTO advised, I took car to detailing and it resolved. BMW paid for it and also committed to one shot of ceramic coating. On X1 however, we were late to observe, and BMW denied to attend it, so we paid from our pocket and got it corrected. It also did not correct completely as I guess we took about a month or two and let the shit mature into the paint.
Thus, Skoda became the clear winner, and all horror stories did not actually match the reality.
We let our driver take the car to service centre and on the way he scratched right rear fender, door as well as front door smoothly against the solid tank known as Chevrolet Cruze, which happily escaped with a sprinkle of white talcum paint from my car. The whole of the right of the car. Anyways, Skoda has a real shoddy arrangement when it comes to workshop. I can tell you it’s a shed in a yard with holes to reach sky in the ceiling. Paint shop isn’t up to the mark. Their process of insurance claim management also has hassles and I had to escalate at various points to get it done. Though, their factory staff is decent. The job done was also not proper and waviness could be easily observed in sunlight. Paint matching was fine.
No fuss service, seriously. Nothing wrong with it. Very well done, updated and professionally managed. I had a 4 year service pack and thus, no charges.
Now that I have done both claim process and service on my vehicle on previous X1, I can tell you they are great. The claim is as simple as making a phone call and repair jobs are done very professionally.
Service of BMW:
Under service package, the car was serviced without any fuss and exceptions. However, there was a rip off. The service guy asked me if I need the car washed. As a previous Hyundai owner, I said yes. They sent a bill of 5000 plus taxes later for washing. It was termed as “engine bay detailing”. Now every time I send my car, I have a simple statement: do whatever you have to do but don’t send me any bill. No payments will be made. You want to wash it wash it, don’t want to wash it, I don’t care.
There were none except one. One of the side compressed panels in boot (cave) was stamped cut a bit under size and it kept falling off. A cardboard insert did the job as I did not want to rip the boot cladding for this. There were no other issues. When I took car for alignment after wheel rotation, it did not require any. Car is rock solid.
There were and are. An unidentified rattle on the rear right in 330Li. But I still have to show it to them during service so hopefully they have skills to resolve. The X1 sunroof rattled, and they had to open it and redo the fitting.
Key differences in vehicles:
They both are different. Well, I will try to list what I remember. Some of the this might be repetition and I will write it as comparative:
- Superb, read Sportline, has rear manual sunshades, BMW doesn’t.
- There is an always on power outlet in Superb’s boot, not in BMW. This can be used to wire cameras for 24X7 surveillance without hurting the fuse box and wiring! I had three cameras in my car both DDPAI and XIOMI
- The Superb’s digital cockpit is highly customizable, not so with BMW, though both are good
- Alcantara Vs leather, pick your choice, it’s totally personal
- Sportline doesn’t have front sensors or auto parking, BMW has it and BMW is quite good and fully automated at that, though there are limitations. Then one can argue on L&K but for me it doesn’t come in black interiors.
- Service packages are cheaper for Superb, who doesn’t know that
- There is huge boot in Superb, everyone knows it, so no points for me here
- Build quality has practically no difference. Both vehicles are well built. Build, fit and finish inside and out will not let anything left to be desired. That’s a 40L vs 60L vehicle. Skoda Superb has felt line door bottle holders and umbrellas in the front doors, BMW doesn’t. So if you want to get down in rain and want to pull an umbrella from front door, Superb it is.
- Sportline doesn’t come with panoramic sunroof, BMW does
- Superb feels larger, boot beats any SUV. I have shoved in whole cycles and what not in there.
- BMW has a better badge value. And anyone who discards this at the time of purchase should think twice or thrice. I have seen kids in my society telling each other that Honda city is better than superb. But you would have to be very centered with high “self-concept” (found less and less these days) not to be belittled by the lack of badge here. It sounds easier than done and I always thought, if I had put in another 20 and gone for Merc or BM?
- Here’s an important one: SEATS FOLD. Yes, BMW 330Li rear seats don’t fold to give larger boot space if you ever need it. Well, call it wanna-be sports car vs family limo category here or whatever, That’s a key practical difference.
- Design: Both are good, design acceptance is a personal thing.
- The chrome: The excessive chrome on 330Li externals really takes time to get used to. I have thought numerous times to dechrome it but once I saw a dechromed 330Li in carbon black colour, I decided not to do it. Had been it any other colour, it could work nicely, and one can go for professional dechroming. Black and near black don’t work together (for me). There is not an iota of chrome on Superb Sportline. Amazing, not even the wheels. Loved every bit of it (again personal choice here)
- Paint quality: Now this could create debates here. I “felt” that BMW paint requires a bit more maintenance in our dusty environment. However, there is no lack of quality and finish on it. Both paints felt similar. Then why am I writing it under difference :/
- Air conditioning: Skoda has dual zone and BMW has triple zone. Ignore that, the BMW AC is faster and better
- Voice commands: Skoda Sportline has commands? I guess so as it used to give prompts, but these could be limited. BMW voice commands are great and they have improved in newer version too. Namely: individual window roll down/up, all windows up down, air conditioning, internal lighting, audio and few more
- Seat adjustment: Skoda Superb had 12-way electric seat adjustment. BMW has lesser, namely the lumbar adjustment isn’t there. Do I miss it? No. it’s equally comfortable.
- Driver profiles: BMW has it, it can move back seat, apps etc to individual driver setting or you can create seat slide back to welcome easily.
- Customization: Now here is a huge difference. BMW has a very high customizability. You can customize a lot of things. For example, whether you emergency brake at potential side impact or rear etc. Skoda desn’t have it
- Emergency collision protection: Both has it for rear. BM has it for side as well. I guess there is front as well in Superb but am not sure.
- Other Safety equipment: Superb has sufficient, but BMW has more. Its technical so I will avoid deep comparative here.
- Driving dynamics: I think I will be repeating or confirming here of what everyone knows already. 330 is a provoking machine. Way beyond any other, even in its segment, so I will just focus on Superb here.
- Superb doesn’t feel large to drive at all and can be maneuvered easily. The sport mode (push gear lever back twice) puts you in better power definitely and engine gets punchy. After you floor the pedal it will come to a saturation somewhere and won’t just keep on exponentially accelerating. Hey, it’s a family limo kind of thing, still has a good power and driving is a good experience.
- BMW will grunt and push further and further, no comparison there. Horses has a difference of roughly 60-70, but there is much more going on inside on how engines and transmission respond and how that response is brought in the cabin to feed the driver that says, hey floor the pedal. Note to self: Never buy 330 for your 20-year-olds.
- Being driven: Here is an anomaly. BMW 330Li scores much better in being driver by chauffer section. Ride quality and suspension is better for a person in rear seat. I repeatedly fall asleep in BM and it has a lot of space after becoming the Li. So if one is selecting based on rear seat comfort, Skoda Superb isn’t the usual winner.
- Gearbox: The new DQ381 (if I remember correctly) felt great. However, it does gets confused on occasions. it happened 4-5 times during ownership. No comparison with the confident predictive gear box of BM
- Ground clearance: Now its always not the mm, its suspension tuning and weight distribution with wheelbase lengths that determines whether car will scrape the underbody on not. Yes, scrape is what I would be stating in layman terms. Well, I scraped Skoda once, on an exceptionally horrible rural axle or speed breaker, if you can call that. BMW with four will scrape stuff that Superb wouldn’t. Period.
- Value for money: Now I wouldn’t simply say Superb here because there is a key difference for me personally. I estimate the Value as the whole ownership cycle. I generally toss off the vehicle in about a year after claiming depreciation. Now when comes to loss of value of vehicle in resale, one will lose more money on superb (in percentage) than on 3 series as Skoda Superb isn’t considered a brand that retains its value due to supposed after sales issues, unreliability etc. Which I am surprised did not exist for me, short ownership perhaps. I will let experts elaborate this further if needed, to avoid emotional debates.
So what will I buy?
If a situation demands, will I buy superb again? Yes, because I won’t buy a Camry.
If a situation demands, will I buy a 330Li again? No, because there are quite a few more options to explore in this bracket. But I am sure these will leave me dissatisfied. So I renounce my answer. Yes I will!
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