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Old 29th July 2013, 16:49   #1
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Default Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K

I call it the James Bond car because of the features & comforts if offers. It’s as if the car itself could talk and communicate to me!
Skoda - Simply Clever!

I had sold my Fortuner and been in a dilemma of choosing a car. I'd narrowed down to the Passat, superb & Yeti. I really liked the yeti but the only drawback i felt was the lack of automatic transmission. So next was the Passat and superb. I was getting the Passat for a good price and above all, it was similar to the A4. The superb was also similar but somehow, I did not like the size of the vehicle. I call it the junior limousine - best fit for a person with a chauffeur.

That's when I had the idea of the Laura L&K! This had all the features a Passat could offer except for the electronic handbrake and sunroof. After having a feel of the L&K, I could not justify myself paying an additional 700K INR! So it was the L&K. Tafe Access, St Marks road offered an excellent presales support and the SC was Praveen. They gave me the test drives of the superb, yeti & the Laura. I had considered the superb petrol and even reverted to the yeti during sometime of the purchase, giving real headache to the SC.
I paid the booking amount to book the car and tried to take a look at an L&K but there was none available. Praveen kept on updating me on the status and one fine day, there it was in the stock yard.

In the meantime, I finished off the bank formalities. I approached the State Bank of India. The was the most unbelievable experience - my loan was sanctioned in just 3 days and that too the bank manager was in direct communication with me. Even now, I can’t believe this type of wonderful service from a Government Bank! They also gave me good advice on motor insurance.
The bank transferred the amount to the dealer, who then proceeded to the registration. I gave Praveen another headache over here. I thought of taking delivery on Saturday but someone told me its not a good day, so I told Praveen I would be taking delivery on Friday, being Varalakshmi celebration day it would be quite auspicious.

Praveen sent the registration file to the RTO and had the PDI done and informed me that I could make it to the showroom anytime in the evening. In the evening, everything went as smooth as expected the car delivered with a box of sweets from Tafe access! Praveen also spent about an hour giving me a demo of the car.
The drive home was quite pleasant, though it took time for me to adjust to the lower level of the seat. In the fortuner, the road appeared much lower and very soon got used to it. So in the Laura, it was more like myself flying parallel and close to the road.

There are numerous features I'm still discovering!

The audio system is also above average with the 3-way speaker system giving a good sound stage. The parking assist system gives you an audible warning from different speakers depending on the location of the obstacle and its change in position as the car moves.
Driving this car is a simple breeze! Just tap on the accelerator and you'd hear the wonderful "vroooom" sound and the car shoots off. Turbo lag is absent and the gears shift uniformly and the driver would never feel it. Sound damping is excellent and one can’t hear the diesel clatter. The 12-way power adjustable boon with memory gives you the best seating comfort.

I had the stock tires replaced to Continental tires stock size. This further reduced the cabin noise. Dealership experience was excellent right from booking to delivery. Skoda called me thrice on the progress, experience & feedback. It cost me 23L on road.

The car is pretty silent when it starts with hardly any jerks. It starts moving once you engage "D". The pickup is excellent though I'm trying not to revv it past 2500 rpm and 60kph. The power steering is a breeze and one can manage it with your small finger! The gear shifts are very smooth and one would hardly notice the up/downshifts. I'm just waiting for the engine to break-in so that I can drive it at high speeds.

I park the car at my building basement which is fairly dark. The moment I press the button to open the car, the driver side door unlocks (I'll have to press twice to open all the doors and the boot opens separately). The automatic lights turn on so that I can find my way. Once I open the door, the mirrors unfold! Upon getting inside and closing the doors, the lights shut off and the interior lights remain ON until I turn on the ignition.

Engaging the reverse gear turns on the park assist which gives audio and visual indications. The headlamps also turn on automatically as the basement is dark, but turns off when I come off the place. The music systems automatically reduce the volume when the park assist is in action.

The car takes bumps very well. The turning radius is pretty good for the Indian conditions and engine power makes the car agile enough for quick maneuvers. During the nights the IRVM and ORVMs give a greenish shade to prevent unwanted glares. The headlamps also level automatically.

Meanwhile, here's the list of features the L&K offers: http://www.skoda-auto.co.in/models/Laura/Features.

The sports mode is really impressive. The engine revvs all the way to 4K+ rpms and you can enjoy the performance to the brim. I’ve only tried the sports mode on NICE road and along Salem-Ernakulam highway as I’ve felt this mode requires sufficient room on the road to enjoy to its fullest.

I had been to Autofusion (Thouqeer) to being my project Laura. I also met our bhpian, Vid6639 at Autofusion and as expected, all of us had discussions around cars just as drunkards in a bar with alcohol!
I did an upgrade of the lights yesterday, to HIDs for the high beam and fog lamps. The horn was also upgraded to the BMW or Skoda legacy style. However, this was when I realized and understood the CANBUS functions. I kept getting errors due to the HIDs being non-canbus systems.

I paid a visit to Pete's Bangalore to find out how they can help detail my car and do a performance upgrade. I was happy with the knowledge and quality of their work. The Bangalore contact is Mr Shibin and he showed me how to use VCDS on the Laura. He also helped me clear the warnings because of the head lamps, however they kept on reappearing. I would be giving the car for detailing sometime after next week, after the ICE upgrade.

I had also installed my DLS-amplifiers, subwoofer along with the JL-audio DSPs. Because the sound quality was not up to my satisfaction, I’d replaced the JL-audio DSPs for an Alpine CDA-117 HU. This HU would play all the media and would signal the amplifiers.
This was when I’d noticed the headlamp and windshield washers were not working. The HIDs were also repeatedly flickering at random. I’d initially thought this to be some feature but then realized it’s due to the non-compatibility with the CANBUS system.
I took my vehicle to Tafe access and they could not help much; one of the engineers told me it’s the CAN gateway module that’s damaged whereas the service manager told me it’s the central electronics that’s got to be replaced. The funny part is that there is no central electronics module in the current generation of Laura and neither will there be as this module, along with other control modules is now called the Body Control Module or BCM. Furthermore, both of them told me the location to be below the climate control system. I was shocked! These modules are located on the right side of the steering column – I was clear Tafe access engineers hardly knew anything and seemed to take advantage of the situation.
This was when I came across Sukesh (Vagtune) from Cochin, who had helped me replace the BCM modules, restore my vehicle completely to stock as well as perform the upgrades using genuine Skoda parts. The whole process took 48 good hours.

Am I not happy to have my vehicle back in ship-shape and a pure-Skoda product!

After doing some research on CANBUS and vehicles fitted with such systems, I realized this is how most owners get into trouble; by installing accessories which are not compatible with the system. The dealers simply mention “Warranty Void” to shoo away the customer as they do not have the technical expertise to solve such issues.
As for the sales people, they will tell you Neil Armstrong went to the Moon with the Skoda so “anything” is possible!


The performance is great, pickup whenever you need, excellent and predictable braking performance. The park assist really helps you to park in difficult places as well as maneuvering in busy traffic. I also liked the seating position; your hands and legs tire less and you're also see the bonnet pretty well, making it easier to drive.
The doors are so soft that you may push with a finger and it would lock! Excellent finish I would say.
I also like the centralized locking feature which only opens the driver's door, instead of unlocking all the doors, which makes it safer in creepy places or during an accident.

A bike came and hit my Laura after sometime during the third week of ownership. From the sound of the collision, I thought the front left fender and bumper is gone, however, on inspection I found only a single scratch. The Laura is solidly built, I must say. As usual, the rider and the pillion started the drama - thanks to Karnataka Police who saved me!

Compared to the Fortuner, I find the Skoda to be a safer car with lots of user based features, making it really worth the price. I would recommend Toyota to include disc brakes for front and rear, electronic based safety features, 6-7 speed auto-gear box, lighter power steering and a more agile performance. Some who spends about 29 lacs for the Fortuner would never use it purely for off-roading. In fact most would use it for 70% city traffic and 30% rough road, which might include about 5% off-roading. Hence this vehicle should be more optimized for city traffic. They should also re-look into the assembly process/design to minimize the engine and gear vibrations. C'mon Toyota, this is not fair for a 29 lac car!

First Service @ 15000Kms

It’s almost a year since I've purchased the Laura. I have done close to 15K kms. This is the first time I've had the chance to cover so much. The primary reason being I was married a few months ago and was travelling around with my wife.

I had taken the car for service - First service at 15K kms. The service center was Vinayak Skoda, KR Puram. I had no hassles in getting an appointment or getting my car in. The service advisor was Prem, who immediately started checking my car for the basic and default details and asked me whether I had anything in specific. I had asked him to check on the brakes, under chassis & suspensions (especially because I often drive on rough roads and one of my tyres has developed cracks). I also opted for interior cleaning as the seats were dirty.
Skoda had developed a new A/C control valve which were being replaced for free. So they asked me to come on the following Wednesday to collect the vehicle. I kept following up with Prem on the status and he was able to deliver the vehicle on Tuesday afternoon.
The service was done well, filters replaced, a/c control valve replaced, default examinations done. The consumables were also replaced. The total cost was 12.5K.

The only part I was not happy was the interior cleaning which was below average. They merely cleaned the seats, carpets & doors. The interior roof was still partly soiled and the dashboard was also dusty. On my request they cleaned the dashboard.

They'd also placed the dirty filters in the vehicle boot - The a/c filter was pretty clogged and dark black in color.
My verdict on the Skoda Laura L&K after one year of use:
This is a very good car in terms of comfort, convenience and drivability. The engine power is pretty good, enabling you to enjoy most of your drives. It comes with all the bells and whistles which otherwise comes only with super luxury cars.
The built quality is amazing. All the parts are shared across Skoda, VW and Audi hence no compromises made on the quality of parts or built quality.

I only wish Skoda India and its dealers would improve the service quality, build more spacious service centers similar to Toyota. The service engineers and advisors still require skill improvement.
Coming to the skill level of the advisors/engineers, I'd called Vinayak Skoda sometime back to enquire on the price of the headlamp assembly unit for the L&K. One of the so called engineers asked me whether the headlamps are for the front or back.

I was amazed to see the Ravindu Toyota service center on Old Madras road, which is similar to Nippon Toyota at Ernakulam.

The only unhappy scenario I had was with the cracking of the front tire. Continental did not help here much. I did check with other tire dealers and even Skoda and was told this is due to some manufacturing defect. However, Continental denied this fact and refused warranty.
Nikhil – You are pretty much reputed and highly regarded, please do not ever recommend Continental tires to anybody that would unnecessarily spoil your reputation. You’ve been a gem so far and I’m sure all Bhp-ians would like to hear so forever.

Accessories:
1. Headlamp unit with Bi-xenons for Low and high beams
2. Advanced Bluetooth Kit with A2DP streaming
3. Three-spoke steering with paddle shifs
4. MDI unit which enables mobile devices, HDD connectivity
5. Advanced CAN Gateway to enable automatic parking and attention-assist. The attention assist feature, when enabled, checks your driving patterns for the first 30 minutes. It keeps monitoring your driving pattern and your eye movements (using a sensor on the instrument cluster) and displays a cup of tea with a warning message to take a break on the instrument cluster. There would be a chime sound as well.
Next Steps:
I would be upgrading to the Advanced ESP and PLA-2. The advanced ESP modules comes with XDS, DSR etc., while PLA-2 enables both parallel parking and right-angled parking along with unparking. My current ESP module is a mid-level type and monitors the system at about 300 times a second while the advanced ESP monitors at about 3200 times a second. Each wheel is measured differently ensuring the highest safety. I believe only Volvo and Porsche comes with this feature as of now. The ESP kit has been ordered and is on the way.
One observation I had is using normal diesel (non-shell) seems to give better mileage and power - strange it may be!
My only wish is also to have amplifier(s), good components & a subwoofer installation though I still could not find a “neat” method to do this.
Attached Thumbnails
Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K-1.jpg  

Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K-26.jpg  

Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K-27.jpg  

Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K-28.jpg  

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Last edited by nitinbose : 29th July 2013 at 17:06.
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Old 29th July 2013, 17:02   #2
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Default Re: Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K

Here are the remaining pics as I can only upload 30 pics at one go.
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Old 29th July 2013, 17:38   #3
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Default Re: Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K

I have to say that as much as i love skoda for their cars... well i'll save the usual rant and come right to what i wanted to say: She looks fab! Somehow i really have begun to like the white color on cars these days. Congrats and may you rack up more miles on this rocket.

P.S: In the picture with the alloy wheel dealer, is that Vidyut'ji?
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Old 29th July 2013, 18:51   #4
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Default Re: Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K

Yes, that's Vidyut.

I am also in the process of learning how this vehicle works, so that I may depend less on the service centers
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Old 29th July 2013, 22:03   #5
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Default Re: Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K

Quote:
Originally Posted by nitinbose View Post
Coming to the skill level of the advisors/engineers, I'd called Vinayak Skoda sometime back to enquire on the price of the headlamp assembly unit for the L&K. One of the so called engineers asked me whether the headlamps are for the front or back.
I am still laughing my heart out.

Coming to the car, Laura has always been one of my favorites. Haven't driven it, but as per the reports here, it never disappoints.

How I wish Skoda India would also care for their products after selling them. If and only if their A.S.S. was better, they would have been selling many more cars then they now do. I myself have advised a couple of friends and relatives to stay away from Skoda only due to the After sales.

I hope you do not have to be in the LIST of those un-happy customers and enjoy munching miles on your priced possession.
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Old 30th July 2013, 08:26   #6
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Originally Posted by carzone View Post
If and only if their A.S.S. was better, they would have been selling many more cars then they now do. I myself have advised a couple of friends and relatives to stay away from Skoda only due to the After sales.

I hope you do not have to be in the LIST of those un-happy customers and enjoy munching miles on your priced possession.
Well, I am learning how to do the repairs myself. As long as you maintain the vehicle in ship shape, the engine/transmission would be great. Of course, you've got to be careful when the A.S.S does an oil change - they should not have forgotten to replace the oil while the existing oil has been drained.

Secondly, for spares, we can import from skodaparts.com which works out cheaper than from Skoda India dealers - trust me, anytime!

Lastly, in Bangalore, I can see several new car workshops who seem to be specialized in such premium cars. I guess it wont be long before owners would be visiting such workshops instead of the A.S.S. CANBUS based vehicles were rare in our market hence people were not familiar with them resulting in all the confusion. This is similar to when automatic transmissions were launched and people used to say they get damaged easily.

The same applies when you purchase a Toyota LC/prado/prius etc., spares have to come from Japan. This is a confession from one of the Toyota A.S.S engineers.

Last edited by nitinbose : 30th July 2013 at 08:28.
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Old 31st July 2013, 15:28   #7
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Default Re: Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K

Wow! This is absolutely awesome stuff. You are quite brave to start modding a brand new Laura. Could you please tell us where to get the steering from and how to activate the paddle shifters? Or maybe guide us to a competent person who does everything under one roof?
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Old 31st July 2013, 17:03   #8
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Hi Nitin,
Congrats ! The interiors of the Laura & the Superb are miles ahead of all the Toyotas and Nissan. Btw just curious to know why you sold your SUV to buy a sedan, also did you get the 3 spoke steering from Skoda A.S.S. ?
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Old 31st July 2013, 22:01   #9
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Hi Nitin,

That was an amazing write up with detailed pictures. I myself own a pre-FL Laura and have read your other thread regarding the JL DSPs and was almost considering to follow the same. I have been meaning to do something about the HU in the car for a while now and have been discussing with one of the installer on the possible options. While he straight away advised against replacing the HU completely, his suggestion was to install an extra HU like the Alpine (Single Din).

I would really like to know the issues you have faced in doing this (both DSP & Alpine)

Can you pls clarify is there is any possible way to avoid non-compatibility with the CANBUS system altogether?

Or is the whole thing not worth it and we need to learn to live with what we have?
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Old 1st August 2013, 15:38   #10
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Default Re: Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K

Magnifique!
That boot looks like it can swallow a small car. At 23L it's probably made up of 8 Altos anyway...

Quite difficult (at least for me) to figure out some of the smaller pictures. Maybe a description or enhanced image might help?

BTW, is that BOLERO just above the central display? Would've expected perhaps Waltz or something that goes more with the cars' character...

good luck!
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Old 1st August 2013, 17:00   #11
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Default Re: Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K

The Laura is easily one of the best and VFM cars available in the Indian market.
The DSG is the best transmission you can get in this segment, PERIOD. And modding it means you have got yourself a beast! Congrats on the car!!
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Old 2nd August 2013, 03:25   #12
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Congrats on the car brother , i too own a Black L&k. Now please be quick to tell me from where did you source those headlights , they look great on the car. i saw paddle shifters on your car, how can i fit them too ? mine dosen't have even the bluetooth !!! Some light here please

Last edited by sajid33 : 2nd August 2013 at 03:44. Reason: spelling correction
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Old 2nd August 2013, 08:48   #13
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Default Re: Here comes my James Bond car - The Skoda Laura L&K

Quote:
Originally Posted by BuBooMan View Post
Wow! This is absolutely awesome stuff. You are quite brave to start modding a brand new Laura. Could you please tell us where to get the steering from and how to activate the paddle shifters? Or maybe guide us to a competent person who does everything under one roof?
All the modifications are using genuine Skoda accessories. I purchased and installed these from Vagtune, Ernakulam. The contact is Sukesh: +91 9895 330033. I have discussed on Vagtune on another thread here: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/other-...ne-cochin.html

Sukesh is a real knowledgeable person and he's got a Laura and a fabia on which he first performs the upgrades before putting them on sale. When Tafe Access A.S.S ruined my vehicle, it was Sukesh who brought my car back to life and to pure stock. His website is: www.vagtune.in There is no need to be brave in modding Laura or any other similar car. You just have to use the genuine accessories with the help of a knowledgeable engineer, who also loves cars! You then set to go!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rxpaul View Post
Hi Nitin,
Congrats ! The interiors of the Laura & the Superb are miles ahead of all the Toyotas and Nissan. Btw just curious to know why you sold your SUV to buy a sedan, also did you get the 3 spoke steering from Skoda A.S.S. ?
From Vagtune, as mentioned above.

The SUV was the Toyota Fortuner and I simply found it to be nothing more than a glorified Mahindra jeep. I simply cannot justify the cost I'd paid for that vehicle. It does have very basic interiors, hardly any safety features, poor brakes. Its an ideal vehicle only if you do hardcore off-roading.

For most people including me, we purchase a vehicle for city driving, highway driving and occasional rough road driving (which should not be confused with off-roading). So we value performances, comforts and safety more, hence the reason why I'd sold the SUV for the Skoda Laura.

Quote:
Originally Posted by evoque View Post
Hi Nitin,

That was an amazing write up with detailed pictures. I myself own a pre-FL Laura and have read your other thread regarding the JL DSPs and was almost considering to follow the same. I have been meaning to do something about the HU in the car for a while now and have been discussing with one of the installer on the possible options. While he straight away advised against replacing the HU completely, his suggestion was to install an extra HU like the Alpine (Single Din).

I would really like to know the issues you have faced in doing this (both DSP & Alpine)

Can you pls clarify is there is any possible way to avoid non-compatibility with the CANBUS system altogether?

Or is the whole thing not worth it and we need to learn to live with what we have?
You first have to find out how the CANBUS system integrates with your audio. If its the previous version of Laura, it should not be difficult and one should be able to install an aftermarket system without trouble.

However do try to avoid cutting/snipping wires.

The DSPs produced a lot of hissing noise and I did not feel the equalization to be correct hence replaced. The alpine HU was excellent but this was a "non-standard" arrangement circumventing the CANBUS management which I felt as not "SAFE". You can also "draw" preouts from the existing HU with the help of a good electronics engineer/service person using which you may power your amps.

How many speakers do you have per door? Is there an existing amplifier or is it the stock HU that's powering the loudspeakers? These are some of the questions to ask yourself.

If you're based out of Bangalore, you can talk to Suresh (Vinayak Skoda) +91 9900033439. I heard he does audio installs for Skoda vehicles. Finally, the Skoda audio is pretty decent and you may also start with a speakers upgrade.

The Blaupunkt Philadelphia also seems good, though I do not have a direct experience with this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by isiv View Post
Magnifique!
That boot looks like it can swallow a small car. At 23L it's probably made up of 8 Altos anyway...

Quite difficult (at least for me) to figure out some of the smaller pictures. Maybe a description or enhanced image might help?

BTW, is that BOLERO just above the central display? Would've expected perhaps Waltz or something that goes more with the cars' character...

good luck!
Yes, the boot space is huge. You can see from my FB photo how much stuff I'd loaded, in addition to six passengers! https://www.facebook.com/nibose/medi...3765122&type=3 I'd also love to have larger photos but the forum upload limits the file sizes to 1MB which is not sufficient for high resolution images. Which Bolero are you talking about, the HU? The stock HU is the radio Bolero.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sajid33 View Post
Congrats on the car brother , i too own a Black L&k. Now please be quick to tell me from where did you source those headlights , they look great on the car. i saw paddle shifters on your car, how can i fit them too ? mine dosen't have even the bluetooth !!! Some light here please
As mentioned above, from Vagtune

Last edited by nitinbose : 2nd August 2013 at 08:55.
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Old 2nd August 2013, 09:21   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitinbose View Post

You first have to find out how the CANBUS system integrates with your audio. If its the previous version of Laura, it should not be difficult and one should be able to install an aftermarket system without trouble.

However do try to avoid cutting/snipping wires.

The DSPs produced a lot of hissing noise and I did not feel the equalization to be correct hence replaced. The alpine HU was excellent but this was a "non-standard" arrangement circumventing the CANBUS management which I felt as not "SAFE". You can also "draw" preouts from the existing HU with the help of a good electronics engineer/service person using which you may power your amps.

How many speakers do you have per door? Is there an existing amplifier or is it the stock HU that's powering the loudspeakers? These are some of the questions to ask yourself.

If you're based out of Bangalore, you can talk to Suresh (Vinayak Skoda) +91 9900033439. I heard he does audio installs for Skoda vehicles. Finally, the Skoda audio is pretty decent and you may also start with a speakers upgrade.

The Blaupunkt Philadelphia also seems good, though I do not have a direct experience with this.
Hi Nitin,
Mine is a 2006 Laura L&K. It has the "Audience" HU and 12 speakers. It does not even have an Aux-In But I want to retain the steering controls as well as the ACC / Parking Assist display on the HU screen.

Although I am OK with the sound, what I need is a way to avoid burning discs all the time and have a USB / iPod / Aux instead. I have a Pioneer 2490BT in my other car and I am very used to it. This makes the need to change HU on the Laura even more important. I would definitely prefer an OEM HU like the Bolero if it could be fittted without any changes. What do you think? Any suggestions would be greatly welcome.
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Old 2nd August 2013, 09:58   #15
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Hi Nitin,
Mine is a 2006 Laura L&K. It has the "Audience" HU and 12 speakers. It does not even have an Aux-In
Funny. 2006 Laura L&Ks all have AUX in.
It might be stupid of me, but have you checked inside the center armrest compartment for the port?
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