Skoda Laura vRS Review
Car tested: 2012 Skoda Laura vRS
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 18,27,322/-
When Skoda announced the launch of Laura RS, every enthusiast became very very excited. However the Skoda Laura RS is not a real RS with the engine remaining the same as the petrol Laura. The Czech automaker opted to offer the same 1.8 TSI as the regular Laura as the demand for petrol cars was declining due to increase in the cost of fuel. However there is very little to deny that in the segment, nothing looks cooler than the Laura RS. We have already reviewed the Skoda Laura in detail (here), so we will keep this review limited to the RS variant. But does the Laura have the go to match its show? We find out.
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Exteriors – The Skoda Laura RS is a looker from every angle. Based on the regular Laura, the Rally Sport version gets day time running lights (LEDs), integrated lip spoiler, new bumpers, projector headlights with cornering function, 10-spoke alloy wheels, rear spoiler, chrome tipped exhausts and vRS badges on the front grille and the boot. These changes might not be drastic but make the Skoda Laura look stunning. The 16-inch Draconis wheels are splendid and change the side profile of the car. In race blue colour, there is nothing that looks as stunning on the roads as a Laura RS (south side of Rs. 30 lakhs).
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Interiors – Step inside and you will greeted by the vRS scrub plates and black theme of the interiors. The bucket sports seats are made of part leather Alcantara. All the seats are finished in black and grey colour and have the vRS badge printed on them. The front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive. The steering wheel is a 3-spoke unit which feels very good to hold and offers tremendous levels of grip. There are no audio controls on the steering wheel but the vRS badge is present to remind you of the purpose of this vehicle. The all black interiors have chrome inserts in certain places to break the monotony. Leather has been used in abundance, with the steering wheel, gear knob and hand brake all wrapped in leather. The audio system is a touch screen unit from the top end Laura L&K and works decently, giving out better than average sounds. The Laura RS is the only variant of the Laura which gets a sunroof.
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Ride, Handling and Braking – If you think the Laura v RS is going to be much sharper and poised than the regular Laura, you will be wrong, quite wrong. Both the cars have the same suspension system, even the same ride height, which has been left unaltered. However the springs are slightly stiffer with more coils to make the RS live up to its badge. Drive the RS and you will notice that Skoda has not aimed to make the RS as sharp as an RS should be. Mind you, the Laura has excellent handling but with the RS, we expected razor sharpness. Sharp corners are taken well well on the slightly wider 205/55/16 rubber (the regular Laura runs on 196/65/15) as opposed to 225/45/17 which the RS gets internationally.
Even though the Laura RS is not as sharp as an RS should be, it is definitely much sharper than the regular TSI. The lack of razor sharp handling has its benefits though as the Laura RS does not have a ride which will jostle the passengers. The balance of ride and handling has been maintained very well and the suspension works well too. The RS soaks up most of the bumps on the road and does not get unsettled so easily. The steering wheel deserves a special mention for the directness and feel it offers at triple digit speeds. Brakes are extremely strong and the ABS, EBD and MBA (Mechanical Brake Assistant) ensure the Laura RS stops with the same thrust as it goes.
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Performance – The part that everybody is waiting for. Is the Laura RS any quicker! I am sorry to break the ice but its not. Skoda has plonked the same 1.8-litre TSI petrol motor which does duty in the regular Laura petrol. This motor produces 160 BHP of peak power between 4500-6200 RPM and 250 Nm of peak torque between 1500-4500 RPM. This engine is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, which is butter smooth to operate. In Europe, Skoda offers the Octavia RS with a 2.0-litre TFSI engine which produces 200 BHP of power. The Octavia RS (our Laura) is even offered with a 2.0-litre diesel motor internationally, which produces 170 BHP of power.
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Even though Skoda has offered us the lesser powerful engine, the Laura RS is quite quick. It reaches from 0 to 100 km/h in the same time as the Laura TSI, which is 8.4 seconds but some how you tend to feel you are going quicker. This 1.8-litre engine is a beauty, extremely silent at idle and one can seldom feel the engine is running. But all this is thanks to the technology infused into this motor. The 1798 cc motor uses stratified direct fuel injection which sprays the fuel directly into the cylinder. The DOHC unit also has variable vale timing and then there is the turbocharger which ensures the silence before the storm.
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The Skoda Laura RS respects urgency and a dab on the throttle ensures and the vehicle surges forward with utmost enthusiasm. The car will pull forward across the revv-band and once the turbo spools, the way this vehicle moves is something enjoyed more than just read. Never does the engine tend to run out of breathe with the car redlining all the way at 7100 RPM and even at triple digit speeds, the motor is quite comfortable and cruises without any effort. Even with hard pedal to the metal driving, the Laura RS manages to return 10 km/l, which is amazing for a car of this size and acceleration.
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Conclusion – The Skoda Laura RS might not be a true Rally Sport but its hits two birds with one stone. It looks stunning, drives sharply and is well balanced. At the same time, the car won’t break your back with a harsh ride, nor will it burn a hole in your pocket with single digit mileage figures. If you think the diesel era has just begun, think again, because there is still a car for the true petrol head, which make you smile every time you floor the pedal to the floor.
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* Drop deadly gorgeous looks
* Driving position
* Strong performing engine
* Well weighed steering wheel
Whats Not So Cool
* Still not a true RS
* Right side mirror takes time to get used to
* 1.8 TSI and not 2.0 TSI used
* Unlike Skoda horn