Car tested: 2011 Skoda Laura 2.0 TDi AT
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 19,01,889/-
Skoda has been known to produce bullet proof cars in India which are reliable and can almost substitute for a tank sans the guns and bombs. The story started in November 2001 when Skoda introduced the Octavia in the Indian market. A premium sedan which delivered superior handling and fuel efficiency, needless to mention the performance of the 1.9 Turbocharged Diesel Injection Engine (TDI). The Octavia was doing so well, that when the second generation Octavia was launched in India, it was christened as the Laura, placed a segment higher and sold as a more premium car since Skoda was still selling the Octavia.
The Skoda Laura is based on the VW Group A5 (PQ35) platform which is also used in the Audi A3, VW Golf (MK5), VW Jetta (MK5) etc. Launched in 2005, it has already undergone a facelift. The next generation Octavia (as it will be called since the 1st generation Octavia has been discontinued) is slated to be launched in 2012. We drive the DSG Automatic version of the Skoda Laura and find out if it really is a generation apart from the Octavia.
Exteriors – Skoda cars are built to last and the their looks do justice to the statement. Clean exteriors are a highlight of most Skoda cars and the Laura stands by the family design. The front grille catches your attention with vertical fins which look sleek and chrome surrounds look rich. Large fog lamps also house the day time running lamps which can be toggled on/off from the setup menu on the MID. Headlights just about extend into the sides and have the words LAURA carved out in chrome, a unique touch by Skoda. The bonnet has sculpted line which resemble the nose of a formula one car in the center, extending all the way to the wipers. Side indicators are integrated with the external rear view mirrors.
Nice large rear windows can be appreciated from the sides and give the rear bench an airy feel. Six spoke alloy wheels look cool. Notice all 4 disc brakes, will come to that a bit later. Rear antenna similar to most cars these days.
The rear resembles a typical executive sedan. Parking sensors are housed on the bumper and are a boon while reversing. Reflectors have been provided at either ends of the lower end of the bumper. Single reverse and fog light present on the left and right side respectively.
Interiors – Pictures tell a story and if its the one above, you probably knows that the Laura has pretty impressive interiors. Two tone soft touch dashboard (matt finish) looks upmarket and a wooden panel separates it from the beige portion. A touch of wood also surrounds the ‘in car entertainment’ system, the air conditioning and the gear. Skoda has used premium plastics which have been fitted so well that there is no uneven panel gap anywhere. The beige portion of the dash, unlike the fabia, is a darker shade and does not tend to get dirty easily.
Seats come covered with premium leather with the fins snuggling you comfortably. No electric seats in the Elegance version we drove, but the top of the line L&K comes loaded with electric seats with memory function. It took me a while to get the drivers seat adjusted to my liking but once i was thru with that, i found the seats extremely comfortably with adequate back, under thigh and lumbar support. Headroom and legroom was ample too. The front seats get a heated function. This feature is usually handy in European countries, where temperatures are below zero. I slyly switched it on for my co passenger, who realized only after half his derriere was toasted.
Seated at the rear, the legroom was fairly good considering that the front seat was adjusted to a six footers driving position. Thigh support was average. The back seat gets 3 individual headrests.
Multi information display is housed on the instrument cluster and gives you information on the distance to empty, real time fuel efficiency, trip time, average speed etc.
The Laura is equipped with auto dimming mirrors which can be turned on by flicking the small button underneath the rear view mirror. The inside and the drivers side outside rear view mirror turn into anti glare mirrors and cut out the blinding effect created by headlamps of the following cars. Besides this, the Laura also features electrically retractable and adjustable rear view mirrors with heated function.
Skoda offer a dual automatic climate control unit on the Laura. Temperature can be set set for a each side individually and this is made possible due to dual compressors. The rear passengers get a vent on the centre console, between the front seats.
Music system supports aux, which stays tucked into the central armrest. USB support not provided though cd player is. Sound quality was good and got better after minor tweaks to the equalizer. The same screen plays host to the parking assist.
The doors have a red lamp on the inside and puddle lamps are situated on the lower side of the external rear view mirrors.
A big boot does not go unnoticed. Even the Octavia had class leading boot space and the Laura’s boot at 560 liters is big enough to transport a baby elephant. The boot can be accessed from the rear seat through a window in the rear armrest.
Spare wheel is mounted on a steel rim with the Laura coming with a set of four alloy wheels only. No space savers, the spare tyre is of the same configuration.
On the Move – Turn the ignition and the 2.0 liter TDI engine fires up with confidence. This particular engine is commonly used in most cars from the VW group. Audi A4, Skoda Superb & Audi Q3 to mention a few. Mated to this engine is the DSG gearbox, which also happens to be the best in the given segment and a big USP of the Laura. Automatics have not really been encouraged in India since long and are slated to dent mileage figures which are already dipping due to the bad road and traffic situation in the city. We don’t agree though, automatic cars just ease the stress on the driver and make it all the more comfortable. If you still disagree, try driving around at peak time in any of the metro cities.
Coming back to the gearbox, DSG stands for Direct Shift Gearbox which incorporates a dual clutch system, wherein one clutch controls the odd gears and the other controls the even gears. This enables quick gearshifts with minimum lag between shifts. The Laura uses a 6 speed gearbox with tiptronic, which means you can manually go through the gears by flicking the gear lever manually in tiptronic mode.
Ride, Handling and Braking – The Laura rides on 205/55/16 Good year NCT5 tyres which are mounted on alloy wheels. Ride quality is neither too soft nor too stiff. Odd irregularities on the road are kept away from the passenger compartment, however extremely large craters don’t go unnoticed. Handling comes naturally to Skoda cars and the Laura is a great handler too. Throw it into a corner and it responds like a well trained dog responding to his master. To polish things up, the DSG gearbox downshifts automatically, if required, based on the speed and steering input and gives you a good exit out of the corner. Steering feel is on the heavier side but feedback is phenomenal and with 140 bhp under the belt, there is no holding back.
With great power one needs greater brakes! All 4 discs make life easier and the Laura stops in one line without any shivers. Brake pedal feel is great and the brakes are extremely responsive. On a wet road, if you are driving flat out, the ASR light will frequently come on around corners and ensures you head in the right direction. ASR or Anti Slip Reduction in Skoda speak is the same as Traction control and coupled with ABS and EBD keeps the Laura not only well planted on the road but also ensures drama free braking. Even at triple digit speeds, the Laura felt well planted with impressive high speed handling characteristics. The underside stays clear of most speed bumps but the higher ones end up kissing the underbelly.
Performance – Powered by a 2 liter, 4 Cylinder, TDi engine, the Laura produces 140 bhp @ 4000 rpm and 320 nm of torque @ 1750 – 2500 rpm. Power delivery is well spread out throughout the entire range of the rev meter. Acceleration is excellent and if you want to hit the rev limiter, use the ‘S’ mode on the gearbox. Manual shifting is enabled due to the tiptronic function of the gearbox, but its best to keep the car is ‘D’. A timed 0 – 100 runs stops the clock at 10.4 seconds. One can expect the Laura to return a healthy 12 kmpl in a mix of regular city and highway driving. Pedal to metal driving can also bring the mileage figured into single digits but current city traffic and road conditions will prevent you from doing so.
Conclusion – The Laura is almost 6 years old and still continues to impress. Its still one of the best buys in the segment and comes loaded with features such as rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, ASR, 6 airbags etc. Built quality is typical Skoda like with the doors shutting with a reassuring thud, the sound is so good that you may want to shut them again and again. The DSG gearbox is smooth and a pleasure to use. The only downside being service related issues which have been looked into Skoda off late. There aren’t many reasons why you would not want to get yourself one.
* Slick Automatic Gearbox
* Built Quality
Whats Not So Cool
* Skoda’s service related horror stories
* Servicing Costs
* No bluetooth connectivity in the top variant
Skoda Laura Specifications : –
* Engine: 1968 cc, 4 Cylinder TDi
* Power: 140 bhp @ 4000 rpm
* Torque: 320 Nm @ 1750 – 2500 rpm
* Transmission: 6 Speed DSG Automatic with Tiptronic
* Top Speed: 205 kmph
* 0-100kmph: 10.4 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 12.5 kmpl
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: McPherson suspension with lower triangular links and torsion stabilizer (Front), Multi element axle with one longitudinal and three transverse links and torsion stabilizer (Rear)
* Tires: 205/55/16 Tubeless Radials
* Safety: ABS, EBD, ASR. 6 SRS Airbags
Skoda Laura Dimensions : –
* Overall length x width x height: 4569 mm X 1769 mm X 1485mm
* Wheelbase: 2,578 mm
* Ground clearance: 164
* Turning Radius – 5.1 m
* Boot Volume: 560 liters, 1430 liters (with rear seats folded)
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 55 litres
* Kerb Weight: 1465 kgs