Skoda Laura Review
Best car in its SegmentMonday, August 05, 2013
Having entered India’s premium car market back in 2001, Skoda has enjoyed plenty of success. The Skoda Laura – the Indian name for the second generation of the Skoda Octavia - was first introduced in 2005, and won Overdrive’s ‘Auto Tech of the Year’ Award in 2006, and the Auto Bild ‘Best Variant of the Year’ in 2010. So how well does it stack up with the competition? The eccentric new Skoda Laura is designed especially for those who want to make a statement with its bold colors, robust sporty look and contemporary styling. The exterior is very dynamically done with very bold curves through broad shoulders and thick lower sills. The styling is completed with chrome finished front grille, headlamps, 16 alloy sport wheels and tail lamps with central chrome inserts. The interior depicts class and style with the ivory upholstery, high class leather and wooden decor with chrome inner handles. The driver has the comfort of a large 6.5 LCD TFT color display for infotainment purposes and an audio system with 12 speakers and an automatic climate control system. Multi-function display, Audio controls on the steering and electrically adjustable driver seats increase the comfort of the Skoda Laura. Lumber support adjustments, heated front seats and rear seat armrests are also present.
Skoda Laura Exterior
With the second generation, the Skoda Laura received a design revamp that emphasizes its athletic side. The car’s bold, muscular shoulder line helps to lift it optically, highlighting its strong shoulders. Its lower sides sport a striking swage line all the way down, and combined with the car’s expanded lower sills, this helps to emphasize its stability. The car’s lines are fluid not blocky, and its well-sculpted roofline creates a good-looking silhouette. In addition, the upgraded chrome front grille, flared lamp lids, integrated turning indicators, smart alloy wheels and uni-body bumper, all help to emphasize its great build quality and Skoda’s eye for detail. It’s one of the best designs we’ve seen from Skoda.
Skoda Laura Interior
Inside, the Skoda Laura is just as pleasing, with some hidden surprises. The Skoda Laura offers slightly more interior space than its nearest rival, the Volkswagen Jetta. Materials are high quality throughout, and the overall look is warm and luxurious: the decor is formed from high quality wooden panelling, embellished with chrome door handles and smart ivory upholstering. The seat-leather is durable, soft and well made. The interior lamps are well positioned, providing relaxing illumination. There is plenty of luggage space too: 560 litres in the luggage compartment, plus fold-away hooks and 6 anchor points to help keep things secure.
Comfort and Convenience
The popular auto magazine Top Gear called the Laura a ‘masterpiece of dependability’, and the car is certainly designed with the comfort, convenience and safety of the driver and passengers in mind. The driver seat offers 12-way electric adjustment including programmable memory. The dual-zone climatronic air conditioning system is another great innovation, enabling the front and rear to have separate control of air temperature and environment controls. The front seats can be heated, and the rain sensor activates the front windscreen wipers as soon as moisture is detected, adjusting their speed to suit the intensity of the downpour.
Dashboard and Storage
The revamped dashboard of the Skoda Laura may not be the most exciting, but it does the job perfectly. The instrument cluster displays the time and number of km travelled, in addition to the standard MFA data: duration travelled, average and instant fuel consumption levels, fuel range, speed warning, and average and instant speeds. The dash sports an expansive 6.5-inch LCD TCT color display that clearly shows all of the infotainment controls.
Music System of Skoda Laura
The entertainment system in the Laura is nothing to be sniffed at: a Skoda smart touchscreen audio player system, complete with a SD/MMC card-reader. Its 12-speaker sound system comes with a preset digital-quality equalizer, ensuring excellent sound quality throughout the interior.
Engine and Gearbox of Skoda Laura
Back in 2009, the engines of the Skoda Laura were upgraded to keep pace with other vehicles in its class, and ended up out-classing all of them in terms of raw power. Drivers can choose from a 1.8-liter Turbo Stratified Injection (TSI) petrol-driven engine, which provides 160 bhp at 4500-6200 rpm and a maximum torque of 250 Nm at 1500-4500 rpm; and a 2.0-liter TDI CR/ 81kW, turbo-charged diesel engine with a high-pressure injection system and liquid cooling, capable of a maximum power of 110 bhp at 4200 rpm and a maximum torque of 250 Nm at 1500-2500 rpm. The petrol engine is equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox, while the diesel variants come with option of automatic 6-speed gearbox with Tiptronic manual gear changes. Skoda has discontinued the petrol variants of Laura in India.
Acceleration and Performance
The petrol-driven TSI engine is built on some smart technology that combines super-charging and turbo-charging to boost performance and reduce the ‘turbo lag’ typically seen with engines of this kind. At fairly low RPMs, you will certainly notice significant pick-up in the acceleration compared with more conventional turbo engines. The petrol engine is capable of 0 to 100 kmph in just under 8 seconds – to put that in perspective, you’ll find a nearly identical engine in the Passat and A4 models, delivering slightly lower acceleration due to the greater weight of those vehicles. The Cruise Control Assistance system enables the driver to keep a constant speed without having to continuously press the accelerator.
Skoda Laura Safety Features
Skoda Laura’s sturdy design will give drivers plenty of confidence. It’s also equipped with front and rear Parktronic sensors to help identify potential obstacles, six airbags as standard, Whiplash Optimized Head Restraints on the front seats, light sensors to monitor and respond to ambient conditions, and photo sensors to regulate light incidence on the surface of the mirrors.
Suspension and Braking
The Laura’s braking system has been tweaked for the new generation and is very good. The Anti-Lock Braking system is a welcome addition that prevents accidental skidding, while the Electronic Brake Distribution system (EBD) regulates the brake pressure for each wheel independently to guarantee an even and stable braking action, enabling safe stops even when the brakes are applied with force. The car’s Brake Assistance system is able to detect vital braking situations as they arise using the speed of application by the driver, and reroutes maximum power to the brakes.
Ride and Handling
In terms of the driving experience, the Skoda Laura is far ahead of the competition. When compared with peers such as the Honda Civic or the Toyota Corolla, it offers a quieter, smoother and more comfortable ride, with an excellent turning circle and responsive steering.
Skoda Laura is available in four shades: Cappuccino, Brilliant Silver, Magic Black and Candy White.
Eight variants of the Skoda Laura have been released for the Indian market. The petrol-driven variants are the Laura Ambition (Discontinued), Laura Ambition Automatic (Discontinued) and Laura RS (Discontinued). The diesel-powered variants are the Laura Ambition MT, Laura Ambition AT, Laura Elegance MT, Laura Elegance AT and the Laura Laurin & Kiement (L&K) AT.
Skoda Laura Warranty
There are a range of warranty options available, but the standard package offers 2 years on all new cars, including parts and accessories, plus 3 years for paintwork and 6 years for bodywork corrosion.
Some drivers may take issue with the Laura’s lack of additional features and accessories in the petrol variant: it has 15-inch wheels (compared to the diesel’s 16), 2 airbags (compared to the diesel’s 6), and lacks Auto Transmission. Both variants come with relatively few accessories, which must be purchased on top.
Reasons to Buy and Value for Money
Powerful, well designed and practical, the Skoda Laura is a highly flexible and comfortable drive. It’s worth comparing the Skoda Laura with a near competitor, the Volkswagen Jetta and Chevrolet Cruze. The Laura offers more storage space, better ergonomics, better performance and handling, better build quality and better reliability – all for a lower price.
The Skoda Laura rightly deserves all the praise it has garnered: it’s smart, sophisticated and enjoyable to drive, with heaps of extra features that give it the edge over its rivals.