In 2009 Skoda launched the face-lifted Laura. It was also the first time that Skoda offered a petrol engine with the Laura in India along with a diesel. Recently Skoda had launched the Laura vRS marking it as the sportiest variant in the Laura range. The design of the Laura is clean and muscular with typical Skoda styling which means everyone knows from a distance away that you are driving a Skoda! We like the 16 inch alloys and the grille. The Laura vRS however completely different from the other Laura's and is by far the sportiest in the range. The vRS looks unlike any other Skoda especially in this 'Sprint yellow' colour. The changes to the exterior include a new sports bumper with integrated spoiler , 16 inch alloys , polished twin exhausts , rear deck spoiler and LED lights at the front.
Inside the materials used are top-quality and you feel great in this cabin. The design is safe and not futuristic but its functional. The buttons are logically laid out and the steering wheel is typically Skoda. In the top versions, the L&K and Elegance, you get wood on the dash, centre console and door panels which lift the cabin ambience. The lower spec Active and Ambition variants do not get that though. As is often the case, the L&K gets leather upholstery also. The Laura vRS does not get beige or wood instead you get Alcantara/leather sports seats that look and feel great. The interior colour is black and the whole cabin has a sporty feel. The boot at 560 ltrs is massive and swallows all your luggage. Overall the interior lives up to the Skoda name for quality.
The Laura features two diesel engine variants and one petrol engine. The automatic Ambition, Elegance and L&K get the 140 Bhp diesel and the manual Ambition and Elegance get the 110 Bhp diesel. The 1.8 TSI 160 Bhp petrol is available in Active, Ambition or vRS spec. Both the diesels are great. Performance is smooth and turbo lag is kept at minimum. The 140 Bhp ofcourse feels quick but the 110 Bhp engine still feels reasonably quick. Another reason for the good performance is the 5-speed manual box with the 110 Bhp diesel, its precise and is well spread over the power-band. The 140 Bhp diesel has an automatic 6-speed, DSG, with Tiptronic manual gear changing.
When it comes to suspension, the ride is very good and the Laura just glides over the potholes and rough roads. The refinement levels are also very good - the suspension and road noise hardly intrudes into the cabin. The stability at high speeds is also great. Even the vRS which is a sporty car rides very well!
Skoda Laura prices start at Rs 12.9 lakhs to Rs 19 lakhs ex-showroom. Overall there is a lot to like about the Laura, the build quality, the performance. There may be newer rivals like the Elantra but the Laura still makes sense due to its quality.