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Road Test: Skoda Laura [2009-2013]

Rachit Hirani, 10-May-2010. Car Tested: Laura [2009-2013], Version: Elegance 2.0 TDI CR AT
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Clean Conscience

Since the Bharat-Stage IV norms were implemented across thirteen major Indian cities earlier this year in April 2010, all the auto makers had to tweak their engines to comply with the new emission standards. Most did this simply by altering their engine manifold and timing or by adding another oxygen sensor. The Skoda Laura has also undergone a couple of changes on its valve train and this modified motor now sports a 16-valve head. The new Laura diesel engines now sport Common Rail Injection rather than the old Pump Duse which was used until April 2010.

Just to clear some of the confusion, let’s start by telling you what all engines the Laura is now available with. The Laura has two diesel variants; one produces 110bhp (8-valve head)and has a five-speed manual transmission while the other produces 140bhp and is kitted out with a six-speed Automatic DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox). The more ‘potent’ enthusiast Laura comes with the delectable 160bhp 1.8litre turbo-charged petrol with a six-speed manual transmission. (We so wish Skoda would launch this turbo-petrol with an autobox!)

We tested the latest 140bhp diesel with the six-speed DSG automatic and it really is quite similar to the older Skoda Laura 2.0 AT which we had tested last year. The car hasn’t undergone any cosmetic changes and it still looks just the same, which is a good thing. The only thing which has changed, as we've said before is the way the fuel is delivered, from the earlier Pump Duse to common rail injection. This new common rail engine produces 140bhp@4200rpm and an impressive torque of 320Nm between 1750-2500rpm. This engine is quieter than the old Pump Duse 2.0-litre engine which was noisy (as we had reported in our earlier Skoda Laura Road Test), and there’s still the turbo lag that the earlier motor had.

The other major difference which we noticed was that the old Laura used to redline at 4500rpm while the new Laura revved more freely and redlined close to 5000rpm.  In our performance benchmark test, the Laura hit the 100kph mark in 10.4seconds and did the quarter mile in 17.5seconds compared to the older Laura which reached 100kph in 10.2seconds and completed the quarter mile in 17.3seconds.  So the car delivers very similar performance and even though it has now got cleaner thanks to meeting BS-IV norms, there’s no drop in performance.

The DSG transmission is truly addictive and magical. Step on the accelerator and it kicks down almost instantly and upshifts are just as quick. We do quite miss the paddle shifts though which would have truly made this even more of a delight to drive. To be honest, once you start getting used to a DSG box, every other automatic transmission starts feeling slow! In our kickdown test, the sedan clocked 30-50kph in 2.7seconds in drive mode and 1.8seconds in sport mode; and did 50-70kph in 3.1seconds in drive mode and 2.9seconds in sport mode. The DSG shifts up into the sixth gear at a speed of about 60kph helping to get better fuel economy. The engine makes so much torque you could happily cruise in the sixth gear at 60kph.

The Laura returned an excellent economy figure; with a best figure of 17.08kpl at constant driving between 80-90kph in the sixth on our route which was mostly highway driving. It returned a worst figure of 10.5kpl during our performance testing which is all petal-to-metal. Overall, you could expect an economy figure of 13.5 to 14kpl with regular driving and this is truly one of those cars where you can tank up and do a long highway drive without worrying about fuel stops for hundreds of kilometers.

There hasn’t been any change in the ride and handling qualities of the Laura. We did feel that the car rides a tad higher at the rear, but we’ll have to confirm whether Skoda has actually increased the rear ride height. It’s still the same confident sedan which revels in attacking tight corners at high speed with tenacious grip and poise. We also love the responsive steering which weighs up beautifully with speed and never felt slack. The brakes felt quite progressive and in our 80-0kph brake test, the new Laura covered a distance of 30.7m compared to the older car which travelled 30.9m – which is nearly the same.

The new Laura TDI CR (AT) range starts at Rs 15.44lakhs (ex-showroom, Mumbai) for the Ambiente variant which isn’t a bad bargain considering the engine, transmission and driving characteristics of the car. The Elegance trim is even more feature- packed as it comes with leather upholstery and a few more creature comforts. A couple of small niggling issues we had with the car were that with increase in localization, some of the fit and finish has suffered. In our car it was the plastic trim on the A-pillars which just didn’t fit as snugly as it should have been and some other small bits of the interior trim. Then there’s the age-old issue of the windscreen misting on the outside if you’ve got the airflow on face only, so we kept using the air-conditioning on face & feet mode. These are really issues one wouldn’t like to see in a car that costs over fifteen lakhs. Skoda’s dealers also haven’t got the best service ratings around and this is a pity really, since the Laura is an excellent competent car that truly has it all and is really worth a buy. (For the earlier full Laura Road Test, click here.)

 

Test Data

Engine Specifications

  2.0-litre, 16-valve, 140bhp View specifications

Speedo Error

Speedo Reading (kph) Actual Speed (kph)
40  37.2
60  56.3
80  75.6
100  94.6
120  115.1
140  134.2

Max in Gear

Gear Speed (kph@rpm)
1st  41.2@5100
2nd  68@5000
3rd  108.9@5000
4th  157.3@5000
5th  191.2@5000
6th  206.8@3600

Performance Test Data

Top Speed 206.8kph
0-60kph  4.6secs
0-100kph  10.4secs
Quarter Mile (402m)  17.5secs@130.9kph
Braking 80-0kph  30.7m
30-50kph in 3rd  1.8secs
30-50kph in 4th  
50-70kph in 5th  2.9secs

Fuel Efficiency

  City Highway Overall Worst
Mileage (kpl)    17.08   10.52

 

 

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