2011 Skoda Laura RS Review: Racing menace
The automobile scene in India has matured over years. We have witnessed varying trends in it. The price conscious are slowly getting into the brand conscious. The premium cars are no longer just made for the niche class and limited in numbers. Every premium car maker sees India as a prospective market.
In India, we have got our share of performance cars in the form of Mitsubishi Lancers, Honda Citys etc, which were quite the benchmarks in their days. We were exposed to lots of high-end performance cars courtesy the global exposure by the media.
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.
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, specially when Chevrolet's Cruze missile is hitting all in the D-segment. Can the Skoda Laura RS beat the double whammy of petrol prices and the Chevrolet Cruze along with other contenders? We find out.
The Skoda Laura RS has all the 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.
The ORVMs (outside rear view mirrors) are body colored and have turn indicators attached with them. The ORVMs can be electrically adjusted from inside with a small joy stick control.
The sun roof is electrically operated and has a bounce back system. Its position has different positions depending on the need. One can just use the wind deflector to deviate all the wind noise outside the cabin.
The rear of the RS is very similar to the Laura, though some things that differentiate it are the rear deck lid spoiler, the vRS badge on the top left of the tail and the chrome tipped twin exhaust pipes.
Laura RS is equipped with Xenon curve projector head lights with dynamic leveling.
The luggage space is 560 litres and 1430 liters, when the rear seatback folded down. This configuration is quite impressive for generous luggage but again it’s the same in normal Laura.
So to sum it up, Skoda Auto has just added body package to the normal Laura to make it look and feel racy. I however feel, The Laura RS should have been more aggressively styled to curb the similarity between the racing model and the normal model.
The Laura RS has a very sporty interior which screams about its character with the vRS badging everywhere. When one opens the door, one is greeted by the RS badging on the entry floor.
I felt the absence of the vRS badge on one important place though, the gear stick. The 6-speed manual gear stick looks too dull and boring.
The interiors mainly have the black-chrome-aluminum finish to it. The dashboard has a silver treatment with weave design which is continued on the central console and the door panels.
An Aluminum trim runs through the width under the steering wheel.
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.
There are 8 speakers which helps proper sound distribution. We were not very happy with the sound quality of the music system.wo Levers lie behind the steering wheel; the one on left has the turn indicator and dipper controls while the one on right has wiper arrangement, which can be set to auto rain sensing mode, controls for the instrument cluster with a OK/Reset button underneath.
The Ok/Reset button position is not at all convenient and to juggle with it is pain. The instrument cluster has the Speedometer and the tachometer also. It displays distance to empty, average speed, immediate consumption, average consumption, service interval, outside temperature and clock with gear change indicator.
There are 2 trip memories which can be seen mostly on all Skodas now. First, the single trip which records the distance when the ignition is switched on to when its switched off, the other is the Total trip memory - here long journey logs are recorded which can range from 19 hrs 59 mins/1999 kms to 99 hrs 59 mins/9999 kms.
The AC is a 4-speed with rear cooling vents too. To our surprise, Skoda didn’t fit the RS with an automatic climate control which has found a place at the recently launched and lower priced Skoda Rapid too.
The seats have a two tone finish in Onyx-grey and black. All the seats have the vRS logo embroidered on them. The detailing done on the seats, which includes the contrast stitch line that runs through the entire seat, is good.
A sobre chrome touch is given on the door handles. The B-pillar and the rear roof handles have coat hooks.
The seats also provide lumbar support for driver and front passenger seats. The driver snugs in the seat properly. They give you a feel of a rally car.
The split ratio is 60:40 and the rear seats can collapse completely. This however is a negative for rear seats as rally cars don’t have rear passengers. The rear passenger seating is all fancy but a total turn off in comfort and will be a pain in long journeys.
The front legroom is decent, however the legroom space in the rear is very limited and one can feel cramped as it is the rear seats are not too cozy. The rear passenger comfort is a strong negative in the Laura RS.
The practicality of a race car can be easily felt when the storage of the Laura RS is considered. You will find storage and recess everywhere throughout the car.
The doors have inclined bottle holders which is quite trendy and easily accessible. The storage pockets on door panels are seen on the rear as well.
Starting from the front section, there is an eye wear compartment that decends from the roof. The front dash has a lid covered recess for trivial things. The glove box is illuminated and has just enough space for a 1-litre bottle along with the owner’s kit only; it can just take in few essential papers if forced.
There is a storage box under the front armrest with cooling. This box is indeed generous. There are cup holders before the front armrest storage box. The front passenger seat has a storage area under it. The rear seat armrest has storage space for just a small file and nothing else. The Front and rear console have storage areas as well, the front is situated under the AC control and the rear is situated directly under the rear AC vents. The luggage compartment has six load anchoring points.
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.
This similarity extends to the weight of both vehicles too, which is 1380 kgs (kerb weight).
The length, width and the height of Skoda Laura RS are 4597mm, 1769mm and 1485mm respectively. The ground clearance is 164mm.
I have always believed that all the Skoda cars are made with driving pleasure as the main element. The RS is a darling when on road. Her acceleration reactions are simply fantastic. Shift her to first and give some hard throttle and you will be pulled back with the response. These are one of the things that made me a big RS fan.
There is a group which was not very happy with the performance of the Skoda Laura RS. The discontent is mainly because the Indian spec version is under-powered in comparison to the international model which many had anticipated would be launched as it is.
The Skoda Octavia RS (i.e. what the Indian spec Laura RS is known internationally) has a 2.0L turbocharged petrol engine, which produces a power delivery close to 200 bhp at 5100-6000 rpm and torque of 280Nm at 1700-5000rpm.
Coming back to our Skoda Laura RS, The midrange power distribution is very balanced. It being a RS, the performance does justice to the badge. You can hear the awesomely melodic turbo whistle, the moment you shift to lower gears and give her some hard push.
The 6-speed manual shift is a total treat and handles all the driving habits very efficiently. We did some performance driving as well as economic driving and we were mighty impressed with the transmission too. The braking is tight and gets the sports sedan to a quick stop, The ABS just works fine and its merits can be experienced on hard terrains too.
The electro mechanic power steering is very smooth and is very impressive for those short and precise maneuvers.
The rear suspension though feels little stiff adding to the negative woes of rear passengers.
The Laura RS, however impressed us when we tried taking her on off-roads as well as bad road patches. The car behaved supremely well on off-road terrain which again proved the practicality of the RS especially in these days where every other road is dug for some purpose or the other.
The best mileage that we could squeeze in was 13 kmpl and the worst was 6 kmpl.Skoda Auto has incorporated loads of safety features with the intention to make the Laura RS not only a fast-racing machine but also a safe sedan/
The safety features start from anti-glare rear view mirror, ABS (Anti-Lock Braking system), EBD (Eletronic Brakeforce distribution), MBA (Mechanical Brake Assistant), ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) and TCS (Traction Control System).
The central infotainment system doubles as the Park assist with its Parktronic sensors. A rear park assist camera would have been really useful.The Front has dual airbags for the driver as well as the front passenger.
There is a 3-point height adjustable seatbelt for the front occupants. The rear occupants get three 3-point adjustable seat belts. The head restraints are height adjustable.
Child safety is taken care by the installation of two ISOFIX child seat preparations on the extreme seats.
The Laura RS also boasts of other safety features like the Xenon curve projector headlights, over speeding indicator, the Fuel supply gets knocked down in case of a crash along with other basic safety features.
|Engine Capacity (L)||1798/4|
|Claimed fuel efficiency||14|
|Tyre size||205/55 R16 (Draconis Alloy)|
|Ivory colour upholstery||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Turn indcator on ORVM||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Defogger onrear windscreen||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ABS With EBD||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mechanical Brake Assitant||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hydraulic Brake Assistant||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Electronic Stability programme||No||No||No||Yes|
|Parktronic sensors at rear||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dual front airbags||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Side airbags at front||No||No||No||Yes|
|Curtain airbags at front and rear||No||No||No||Yes|
|Security code for infotainment system||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Skoda audio player with touch screen controls||No||No||No||Yes|
|Skoda Swing audio player||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Skoda Blue audio player||Yes||No||No||No|
|Audio control on steering||No||No||No||Yes|
|AC with climate controls||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Leather seat upholstery||No||No||No||Yes|
|Leather covering for steering,gear lever knob||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Central infotainment system||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||1.8TSI/118KW||Petrol E4||1.8 V AT||1.8V AT|
|Enine capacity||1.8L||2.0 L||1.8L||1.8L|
|Power in PS||160||137||132||132|
|Torque in NM||250||190||170||171|
|Fuel efficiency Average||14||13||12||13|
|Tyre size||205/55 R16||205/60 R16||195/65 R15||195/65 R15|
|Safety features||4airbags, ABSwithEBD, ASR,TCS||ABS,Dualairbag, sidechestlevelairbags||ABS, Dual Airbag||ABS ,Dual Airbag|
|Upholstery||Alcantara leather upholstery||Plush Leather||Leather||Leather|
|Ex Showroom price Bangalore in lakh||14.99||14.45||14.69||14.26|
Skoda Laura RS is a regular production car and not a limited number run. The D-segment in which the Skoda Laura RS is pitched faces domination of Chevy`s Cruze along with other players like Honda Civic, Toyota Altis etc.
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.
I personally am a very big die-hard RS fan. The Skoda Laura RS is like the flamboyant version of the executive Laura Sedan. The Skoda Laura RS is a car for those who are brand conscious and have a flamboyance tinge to their personality. The Laura RS especially in the sprint yellow shade, when parked somewhere is totally a sight.
During our drive, some gentleman in a Mercedes Benz C63AMG tried to provoke us to which we graciously declined. I am aware he could have smoked us but it’s a compliment to the styling of the Laura RS.
The Laura RS is expensive as compared to the Chevrolet Cruze by over a lakh and will face music for it too. As for me, I don’t mind paying little extra for the Skoda Laura RS, as performance and styling comes at a price.