We tell you, what it's like behind the wheel of Skoda's turbocharged mean machine.
When the editor, Bunny, caught a VW Jetta testing with a TSI badge in Pune, we were all a happy lot. Why, you would ask? I mean the Jetta has a diesel engine currently and with the price of petrol going through the roof, it makes sense for VW not to offer a petrol variant. But then there are people who want the ultimate in refinement and that immediate rush that only a petrol motor gives and are willing to pay for that plus this 1.8 TSI petrol engine is a magnificent unit in itself.
To let you know more about this great motor, we thought we would give you a taste in its sportiest form - the Skoda Laura vRS. The vRS is a suffix given to those Skodas which are the sportiest in the range. The vRS first came into India in form of the Octavia vRS and now the Laura (essentially the new gen Octavia) gets the vRS treatment as well. To know more about this car, let me take you straight to an empty piece of road which is, er, somewhere in Delhi. The vRS here was getting in its element, the speedo was well past three figures, my palms were starting to get moist despite the air-con on full blast. That Innova in front of me was getting closer and closer as the vRS was eating up large patches of road in one gulp at a time. Some moments later I gave up but it was more because of me rather than the car. The Laura vRS is rock solid at high speeds and will easily do 200 kmph without breaking into a sweat. The 0-100 kmph time of the vRS is about 9 seconds. That shows how good the vRS really is.
The 1.8 turbocharged petrol engine makes 160 bhp and has huge amounts of power and torque. The acceleration is not ferocious or very sharp, instead it's all in one big shove at the back and the Laura vRS accelerates like a train with speed build-up being smooth and you are not even aware that you are already doing big speeds. What is also great is that you don't have to rev it to get the best out of it. There is ample torque of 250 Nm available too, which means so you are never short of power at anytime and the performance is easily accessible. However other than the engine, what I like about the vRS is the steering and gearbox. The steering of the vRS is direct and does justice to that great engine up-front. The gearbox is a delight as well as the 6-speed manual is smooth to operate and shifts are crisp and precise. For those who think the vRS should have had an automatic DSG gearbox, well I beg to differ as this is all about the driver and a keen driver wants to engage himself with the car and this wonderful manual gearbox helps you do that like no other.
When it comes to the handling, its good but from this sporty car I expected better, sure its like the standard Laura TSI which means it was good already but Skoda could have lowered it more and stiffened it, since no one will buy the vRS to sit at the back or care about how good it rides.
I know you have been looking at the pictures and wondering why I have not talked about its looks yet. Well it looks fantastic just like any vRS should look. Plus the amount of reaction that I got from public was overwhelming to say the least. Kids were pointing fingers at it and everyone wanted to get a closer look at this yellow monster. I don't blame them, as 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. Ofcourse there are vRS badges everywhere and you get some stunning looking colours to choose from. I would pick the 'Race Blue' colour as yellow is too loud for me. Overall though if you want to make a statement there is no other car in this price bracket that has so much presence as the Laura vRS.
Inside too, there is the same sporty theme. As this is a sports sedan, there is no 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 that matches perfectly with the personality of the car. One thing that the vRS shares with the other Laura variants is the quality. The quality of the cabin as a whole is simply fantastic and everything inside feels that it would last a hundred years or more. The space at the back is great and the seats are very comfortable and of course the 560 litres boot is simply massive and will happily eat up all your luggage!
When it comes to equipment you get features like an electric sunroof, electrically foldable external mirrors, a 6.5 LCD TFT colour display plus an SD/MMC data card reader. My personal favourite is the audio system (with touch screen controls) because the sound quality is simply stunning and will turn anyone into a music lover! My only complaint is that there is no steering controls or USB or Bluetooth, which is a bit surprising as many small cars have these features!
Still it's a very small complaint as the vRS is one of the most enjoyable cars in the Indian market. Sure you can say that it is just a normal Laura TSI with a body kit and of course many will argue that its price of Rs 17.6 lakhs on-road is expensive but then there is no other car below Rs 25 lakhs that looks this good, goes as fast and along with that will seat 5 people and their luggage comfortably. Plus it's calm in city traffic and will easily give 9-10 kmpl. In the end, it’s hard not to like the Laura vRS and I am sure looking at the pictures you would also agree!
ENJOY THESE EXTRA PICTURES!