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The D+ segment of sedans have been making news with an array of launches and events. Heading this segment is the so called "Diesel Rocket"- the Chevrolet Cruze, which is an instant favorite if you are looking for an efficient and luxury sedan in that segment. Joining the D+ bandwagon is a certain French automobile company called Renault. Their start was not too encouraging with an Indian utility vehicle maker. However, with their first individual sedan launched in May 2011, the Fluence, they have re-entered the Indian car scene. The Renault Fluence is available in Petrol and Diesel versions at a price range of Rs. 12.51 - Rs. 15.46 lakhs
Skoda Auto India raised the benchmark when it got the Skoda Octavia RS. The RS badge meant a souped up Rally Sport/Racing Special version of the otherwise normal production car. Back in those days, The Skoda Octavia RS earned lots of accolades and till date it’s difficult to find a pre used one. The Skoda Laura is available at a price range of Rs. 12.48 - Rs. 18.96 lakhs.
With the Laura RS, Skoda had a major responsibility of coming up with a hit sequel to it’s already cult Octavia RS. The Skoda Laura RS is however a petrol burner, which can go against it, especially when Chevrolet's Cruze missile is hitting all in the D-segment
Renault Fluence Vs Skoda Laura Exteriors
However, the looks of the Renault Fluence grows over you steadilty. It won’t remind you of its odd looking Dacia cousin, with which Renault made their debut in India. We shot the Renault Fluence in a winery to see if the surrounding ambience gels along with our French prop. The lines and curves on the Fluence went very well with it.
Dreamy and shy eyed shaped headlights grace the front profile with not too much exposed chrome treated slot type radiator grille. The chunky front bonnet has a strong characteristic profile with the Renault Logo sitting just below the shoulder line.
The Skoda Laura RS has the entire trademark RS styling to it. The length of the RS is longer than its normal sibling by 28mm, which is not substantial but still manages to give a longish look. The front bumpers get sporty attachments in form on stylish air intakes, LED position lights. The front sports bumper has an integrated spoiler and also houses the retractable headlight washers.
The radiator grille has a chrome background with the vRS badge on the right hand corner of the grille. The front hood has the characteristic Laura styling to it.The side profile includes the 205/55 R16 tyres with Draconis Alloy wheels, which gives a stylish and sporty flair to the side and the roof antenna.
Renault Fluence Vs Skoda Laura Interiors
Inside the Fluence, the cabin space is enormous. This is due to the long wheel base. In long distance commuting, the Fluence would always have an advantage. The generous headroom and legroom makes you distract away from the suffocating cabin spaces. Seatings are very comfortable, especially the Driver row, which has a lumbar support adjustment. Even the rear row of seats takes care of the bumpy rides very well.
While inside the Laura RS, The 3-spoked leather wrapped vRS badged steering wheel has a proper grip though I missed the steering mounted control which is a mundane toy in major D-segment cars. The steering wheel is rake and length adjustable.
The music system is a Skoda Auto BOLERO system. It has a 6.5 inch TFT color display and is touch screen operated. It has an integrated six-CD changer. It has SD/MMC data card reader as well as AUX-in support too. There was something confusing about the music system - the Bluetooth function. BT was on display and we tried each and every setting but couldn’t set the connection with our phone.
Renault Fluence Vs Skoda Laura Performance
The Skoda Laura RS is powered by a 1798cc TSI 16V DOHC, 4 cylinder in line turbocharged petrol engine. The unit churns a power of 160bhp at 4500-6200 rpm and a torque of 250Nm at 1500-4500 rpm. If you compare these stats and figures with the normal Active and Ambition variant of the Laura, its identical which is a bit disappointing.
The Renault Fluence is powered by the same K9K engine that is powering the likes of Micra, Sunny and Pulse. It’s a 1461cc Direct Injection Diesel Engine. The engine produces a peak power of 106 bhp at 4000 rpm and a torque of 240Nm at 2000 rpm. The engine is mated with a 6 speed manual transmission.
Renault Fluence Vs Skoda Laura Conclusion
The captain of the D+ segment crusade remains Chevrolet Cruze, priced lesser and offering value for money benefits. The Honda Civic remains a favorite but goes through a beating due to the absence of a diesel unit. Honda however, would be tackling this need soon.
In India, the performance seeker crowd is still at the nascent stage. We have got lots of international players but still the value for money brigade pins down the performance only group. Skoda Auto has worked all economics and tried bringing a RS performance car in league with its international line-up but still not deviating from the value for money theme.
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