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New Skoda Laura 1.8TSI test drive
[Image: drive300.jpg]
Since its launch in 2005, the Skoda Laura only came with diesel power. Its punchy, efficient Pumpe-Duse motor drew in diesel lovers, but petrol buyers were denied outright. We had our first test drive of Skoda’s face-lifted Laura powered by the 1.8 TSI turbo-petrol engine that debuted in India on the new Superb.

The TSI takes petrol engine technology a step ahead, introducing direct-injection and turbo-charging to this class. The result is a motor that’s almost impossible to fault. It’s incredibly refined and smooth in every facet of performance. From the ultra-smooth idle, there’s a teeny bit of turbo-lag, but once the turbo starts spinning there’s no holding this engine back.

Mash the accelerator for a lungful of full-bore acceleration and the Laura bursts off the blocks, tyres spinning and the speedo needle sweeping forward rapidly. Sixty comes up in 3.8 seconds, 100kph in 8.1 and by the time you count 18, the car is already past 150kph. In-gear acceleration is also ballistic. The key to the Laura’s phenomenal pulling power is the fact that it makes its peak torque of 25.5kgm from an absurdly low 1500rpm. This allows you to drive the car in city traffic without having to bother too much about lag, as the car is pulled forward without drama. Of course, if you want to sprint ahead, just go down the ’box. Unfortunately, the six-speed ’box is a bit notchy, needing additional effort and concentration to slot in.

Skoda has altered the spring rates on the Laura and jacked it up a tad to enable it to ride better over our roads. Ride comfort is better than before, especially at low speeds. The Laura is now shod with Indian Goodyears and not imported tyres. The pliant suspension does its bit too. You can drive over most rough patches safe in the knowledge that the suspension can take the hammering and you won’t be tossed around too much. The steering has more feel and there’s considerable enthusiasm in the manner in which it drives too. Body control is good and even though there is some torque steer, the Laura is still bags of fun to drive. You can get into good rhythm behind the wheel, despite the softer setup and narrower tyres, and the brakes give you a lot of confidence here as well.

The face-lift has emboldened the Laura with larger headlamps stretched over the side of the car, a wider fan-shaped grille and a correspondingly larger air inlet in the chin. The Laura now looks more like a scaled-down Superb than an overgrown Octavia. The tail-lights are changed too but from the rear, it doesn’t look much different.

The interiors have a more upmarket feel to them. Finished in two tones, black for the dash top and beige for the rest, they incorporate some elements from the Superb. The steering wheel and gear lever are the same as on the big Skoda, and they have plenty of chrome garnish on them too. Brushed aluminium-like trim runs around the cabin and there is a new stereo as well. Fuel efficiency figures of 9.8kpl and 14.0kpl in the city and highway respectively are very impressive and further proof of the TSI motor’s superiority. The Laura’s efficiency was no doubt aided by the six-speed ’box and the tall overdrive. However, do keep in mind that if you wind the Laura’s motor hard all the while, efficiency figures will drop very quickly and hence are wildly variable.


Fuel option Petrol
No. of cylinders 4, Turbocharged
Engine cc 1798
Max power 160 bhp @ 4500rpm
Max torque 25.49kgm @ 1500rpm

Transmission 6 speed manual

KPH Time (sec)
0-20Km 1.13
0-40 2.28
0-60 3.83
0-80 5.68
0-100 8.17

Top Speed 223 kmph

in gear acceleration
20-80 3rd
40-100 4th 10.79

Dimensions in mm
Overall length 4569
Overall width 1769
Overall height 1485
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