Skoda Laura
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This Car Has Been Discontinued.
Customer Rating
: 4/5
Expert Rating
: 8/10
: 4 Yrs / Unlimited kms (Whichever is earlier)
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Skoda Laura

Skoda Laura vs RS

The second clue comes from the way it rides over Mumbai’s roads – it’s definitely stiffer than the regular TSI but it’s still comfortable. Uncomfortably so.



ecardlr.com National

That Little Badge on the grille signifies a lot to people who know their intercoolers from their radiators. Simply put, it stands for a lower, stiffer, more exciting version of the bread-and-butter Octavia/Laura. The original Octavia vRS that came to India circa 2005 was the first turbo-petrol in the country. This hot Octy set a performance benchmark, even if there were very few takers for it. This new Laura vRS has to fill a sporty niche that’s been vacated and now appeal to an even wider audience. The question is, can it? We found out the long way down to Chennai from Mumbai via NH4 for our annual track day at Sriperumbudur. It’s the perfect route. We left a potholed Mumbai, sped down wide, open expressways and sampled some of the unfinished bits of the Golden Quadrilateral. All this right in the middle of the Indian monsoon.
But first, a bit of spec. Buyers of the Indian vRS will feel a bit shortchanged and that’s because this vRS isn’t as well specified as vRS’ elsewhere. For starters, this one comes with the same 160bhp 1.8-litre turbo-charged, direct-injection petrol unit in the standard Laura TSI.
European cars get a 2.0-litre, 200bhp TFSI. Also, those cars get 225/45-R17 rubber as standard we have to make do with narrower 205/55-R16s. As for the suspension, the ride height remains the same as the regular TSI, but the spring are stiffer because they have get more coils.
This apart, there are a few things that set this car aside from the regular Laura TSI – there are daytime LEDs, different alloy wheels, a spoiler on the boot and a new, more aggressive chin. And, just to make sure you don’t mistake it for anything but an RS, there are exactly seven vRS badges stitched and stuck all over the car. The insides too are different – you get sportier part – leather, part – Alcantara front seats, a meatier three-spoke steering wheel and the touch-screen audio system from the L&K variant.
So, do all these changes bring out the vRS in the Laura? The simple answer is yes and no.
The first clue as to why it isn’t a proper vRS lies in the car’s ride height – there’s a lot of daylight between the underside of the car and the road, and the big gaps in the wheel arches tell you this car hasn’t been appropriately lowered.
The second clue comes from the way it rides over Mumbai’s roads – it’s definitely stiffer than the regular TSI but it’s still comfortable. Uncomfortably so.
You see, we think Skoda has missed an opportunity here. With the regular, more comfy TSI around to take car of regular people, Skoda could have afforded to go the harder, less comfortable route, and make a far more driver-centric car. This car tries to tread a middle path and so, isn’t as sporty as we expected it to be.
The bright side is, the setup works really well on our roads. Most of the road to Chennai is expressway, and the vRS’s ability to soak up the odd ripple without so much as a wiggle is truly astonishing. Even through NH4’s wide, long corners, the car stays planted and poised. The only blemish comes when you try to change your line mid-corners, where the car gets a wee bit unsettled before dusting off its springs and resuming poise. Even through tighter corners, the car isn’t too happy when you ask it to make quick direction changes and wider tyres would have helped too. That said, the steerig is entertaining with its weight and directness.
Adding to the fun is the 1.8 TSI’s performance which is so strong that it made us question the need for the extra 40bhp that the 2-litre TFSI offers. In the past, we’ve dedicated pages to the TSI’s willingness to pull hard from anywhere in the rev band and it was really nice to relive those words over and over again on this drive. The engine’s ability to cruise effortlessly and silently at triple-digit speeds, punctuated only by fuel stops, is phenomenal too.
Flicking through the six-speed manual ‘box is enjoyable and if you use it well, you’ll get to 100kph in 8.38sec, which is the same as the regular Laura TSI.
Like the old vRS, this one has a practical side to it too. For our track day, we had to carry a lot of equipment along – cameras, the VBOX, luggage for three for four days, assorted track gear and it all fitted into that massive 560-litre boot without complaint. And, as long as you switched drivers every few hundred kilometers, the passenger in the rear seat wouldn’t complain about the low seating and the lack of thing support.
All in all, we reached Chennai – 1400km down the road – hardly feeling the effects of a long drive, thanks to the Laura’s effortlessly long legs. It even returned a respectable 10.5kpl and, mind you, the car was loaded and we weren’t taking it easy either.
When it is launched at the end of August, the vRS will cost approximately Rs 16 lakh. Now, as is, the vRS is a very rounded package, one that has a good blend of sportiness, practicality and feel-good factor. We just wish it could have been more true to its badge.

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