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Old 21st August 2011, 15:39   #1
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Default Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Answering "What Car"

Having driven my OHC for almost 6 years and over a little more than 60k km, it was time to get me a new ride. Now being the simple person I am, my needs were also simple. My car had to be quick, Petrol-fed, segment upgrade from the City, not very common and within my budget (15-20 L). I drew the following long-list, which included cars which did not meet one or more criteria above, but I wanted to research them a bit before dropping them from my consideration. As you will notice, the list also included cars which are still to be launched, but expected in near future.

Laura TSI
Renault Fluence
New Jetta
Kizashi
Hyundai i45
Hyundai Avante
New Accord
Cruze
Yeti
Laura RS
Altis
Civic

The following got dropped from the list for the mentioned reasons:
Renault Fluence - I liked the car's looks and have no problems trusting Renault knowing their global standing. But average powertrains with no manual petrol and their weird variant spec'ing ruled it out.
New Jetta - I love the new Jetta's looks and have no problems if looks like Polo or Vento from the front. The deal-breaker for me - No petrol engine, at least for now. VW has become way too sensible I think, but I can see why. Among Passat, Jetta and Vento, only the latter has a petrol variant and the company is literally having to beg people to buy those!
Hyundai i45 - I was, and continue to be, excited about the GDI engine technology on the i45, and I believe the car is setting the sales charts on fire globally. But, and this may not be popular opinion, I do not like Hyundai's design language direction and it seems like their new cars almost scream for attention with their styling. Having said that, I do believe i45 will rock in India and it will find many takers for its CLS class type looks and the reliable Hyundai badge.
Hyundai Avante - Not much news on this car, except that this has been positioned as the perfect blend of power and fuel economy in markets overseas and may turn out to be a worthy rival for Civic/Altis/Laura if and when it gets launched here. But being lukewarm about i45, I wasn't about to wait for the Avante with bated breath.
New Accord - Apart from the fact that it is near impossible to self-drive this car on a daily basis because of its luxo-barge dimensions, and that it is outside my comfort budget limit, I am a bit upset with Honda's snob (faced over the last 6 years) and misplaced premium pretence and kind of glad that it is getting it back from the market in the form of loss of leadership position in all segments it operates in India.
Cruze - Now I don't know anything that is wrong with this car, except that it is a diesel, although it presents itself very well indeed. But given that it is a diesel, it does not really excite me at all. Apart from all of those flaws, it being a diesel, I never even went to TD it. Alas, if only this car wasn't a diesel.
Yeti - If I were explaining the meaning of the word "niche" to somebody, I would use Yeti as an example. I quickly figured out that I do not belong to that niche, and moved on. Did I say that it being diesel only made my decision much easier?
Laura RS - Rs 3-5 lakhs more than TSI Ambiente for "sports" kit? Thanks, but no thanks Skoda.
Civic - This car is an icon. It is actually difficult to find fault with this car. But I would never buy it for the same reason I would never buy a Swift. Because every third Indian has one, or at least it so appears when you view the world with the goggles of my selective perception! I once heard someone say, "It is easier to spot a Civic in Mumbai than it is to spot potatoes in a veggie market"

My shortlist therefore whittled down to Laura TSI, Kizashi and Altis. The following is how I thought about my final call:

Kizashi - Before the launch, I had imagined the car to have the following attributes - D segment car with C+ segment pricing, unshakable trust of the Maruti badge and blistering performance to smoke out everything short of A4 3.0L TDI and a smashing design and stance. By pricing the car where they did, Maruti ensured two things. One, not too many people will buy this car, and two, it will be badged a flop like Grand Vitara which will cause issues about the car's image, resale value, parts availability, finding trained mechanics outside Tier I areas etc. And what if someone asked me "Kizashi?! - Sorry, is that an actual car's name"?

Altis - Many people think of Altis as a 40+ age-group car. I am not one of them. I think it is a great car, understated and classy, reliable and trustworthy, feature-filled and VFM, and buys you peace of mind like no other car in this segment. The fact that the refreshed model has a crisper engine capable of hurling it across the ton in less than 10 seconds invalidates the "boring car" argument, to my mind anyway. This in the end, was my car option # 2.

Laura - If ever I have used my heart more than my head, deciding on buying the Laura TSI has to be one of the more conspicuous instances. From hearing Skoda owners use expletives for the company and their dealers, to people reminding me the cost of petrol and Laura TSI's mileage, to me getting nightmares about Skoda changing my car's parts and not returning the car in many months and years, I went through it all. But the analyst in me, reasserting his position above the dreamer in me said, the extra I will pay in servicing and maintaining the car because of Skoda's quirks is more than compensated for by the 10% discount on the OTR. Plus, I need to consider the value of the emotional wellbeing I will experience everyday while driving this beauty around. Do I even know enough math to put a monetary value to that?

Laura it was then!

Which Dealer

Being a religious follower of the forum, I headed straight to Vinayak Cars over Tafe. They gave me a nice quote and I made sure to tell them that my car had to have fog lamps. "But Sir, TSI Ambiente does not come with fog lamps any more". I patiently explained to them that I am a tbhp member and well on top of the status regarding Laura features omission and re-introduction. Also informed them that I had a parallel channel running with Tafe guys and that they had cars with fog lamps but I was keen to do business with Vinayak because of their superior reputation. "OK Sir, no problem. We will take care of it". Booking amount promptly paid.

5 days hence. "Sir, I am at our stock yard and I can't find any Silver cars with fog lamps. You are free to take your booking amount back". Well at least better than dilly dallying, I thought to myself. I told them that I understood that they may have offered me an additional discount for their "without fog lamps" model and that I was happy to pay them a little bit more for the "with fog lamps" model. Pat came the new offer. Only, it was higher than the original offer by 60k. Now, may be Maybach's fog lamps cost that much, but I wasn't about to pay 60k for fog lamps for a Laura.

Turned my nose towards Tafe and was pleasantly surprised by what I experienced. Jose, their GM, is a thorough gentleman and gave me a sense on why Tafe suffers from poor reputation, mostly because of their past structural issues and how they are now a professional outfit. Also he matched the original offer from Vinayak. Only difference, their cars had factory fitted fog lamps. Booking amount promptly paid.

Over the next few days, I finished the PDI, finance related documentation etc and took delivery of the car. Now, I have done this recently at a Maruti showroom for my Ritz, but the reception at the showroom and the warmth of the staff made me feel really special. The car was clean and ready, all documentation in place. One staff member patiently took me through the controls and functioning of the car in detail. I was handed over a complementary fuel voucher for 15 litres petrol at a petrol bunk across the road. Now that may be only 1k worth of money, but I like the message they send out with this gesture. One guy even drove the car across the road to the bunk since it is a busy one-way road and they've probably seen new Laura owners struggle with stalling issues in the middle of a busy Bangalore road. Hell, the entire team even sang me a nice clappy song and wished me luck. Nice.

Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-dealer-modified-1.jpg

Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-dealer-modified-2.jpg

First Impressions

Looks - The car's understated and classical looks are to die for. I actually walked down to my basement parking on the night of the delivery to savour its simple yet strong lines (and also to remind myself that I wasn't dreaming). IMO, the curved headlamp given the front of the car more character than the previous Laura, or even the Octavia. The rear is nothing to write about, but that sort of works well for me. I think the car just about wears the 15 inchers ok, without feeling under tired; of course the tire upgrade to wider profile helps. Also, silver captures the essence of the car's character the best, but of course that's the owner saying it!

View from being perched up on my apartment's boundary wall!

Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-car-modified-1.jpg

Strong and purposeful grille

Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-car-modified-2.jpg


Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-car-modified-3.jpg


The Customary picture of the car name inscribed on the headlamp cluster

Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-car-modified-4.jpg

Classic design in a classic hue

Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-car-modified-5.jpg

Plain Jane rear

Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-car-modified-6.jpg

Driving Experience
- I was immediately at home driving the car, and thankfully did not stall the car even once (that ritual was completed during the TD). The availability of creamy torque from really low down in the rev-band means that I did not have to worry that much about the gear I was in. And for some reason I felt that auto rickshaws and bikes left me more space than I am used to. Perhaps being nice knowing I would be nervous with my brand new ribboned car out on the road. Sweet.
I am happy to report that maneuvering over Bangalore's road bumps has been trouble free so far, and this includes some very nasty ones, for instance, the one at the level crossing on Sarjapur road which sees many a Honda scream and wail through their underbelly. Also, I am able to tackle most bumps in second gear without riding the clutch if I am able to carry the right amount of momentum without jolting the suspension. This was a concern area to me after the TD guys had told me that all bumps needed to be crossed in first gear in this car. Phew!
I am yet to take the car beyond 3k rpm or 120 kmph, but what I have seen so far is very promising for future drives, especially after the run-in of 1k km is complete. Right now, controlling myself from revving the engine hard is turning out to be quite an ask given the eager nature of this gem of a motor.

Comfort - I did not drive the stock goodyears for too long and promptly upgraded to Yokos (AVS V550 DB, 205/65/15). Got the job done at Millivision who gave a good quote for the tire swap and went about the job professionally. The car drives very well on those and ride quality is much superior compared to my OHC and Ritz, on expected lines. Seats are nice and lumbar support adjustment helps find a nice position in the cockpit. Music system is super sounding, but I'm sure I will feel the lack of USB portability sooner rather than later. The right ORVM not being convex is a real pain. Need to order retrofit mirrors from ebay UK soon. I will write a post about rear seat comfort if and when I sit on them. Hopefully will happen someday...

Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-tire-modified-1.jpg

Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-tire-modified-2.jpg

Comparison with my previous ride - First thing on my mind - Throttle response. Why do I not see my OHC's razor sharp throttle response in any other car I drive, including my new TSI. Do older cars with worn out clutches display this trait? Other than that, I feel cocooned in the TSI silent cabin, a tribute to the car's NVH refinement. Also, I sit much higher up in the Laura, which gives a more composed feeling, but sort of takes away the Jap racer boy kind of feeling the OHC gave every time I crawled in the cabin to "lie down and drive" Of course the gentle extra shove I get when the turbo wakes up reminds me that I have shifted from a naturally aspirated engine to a turbocharged engine. I must say, it has been for the better so far. I took the opportunity to shoot my garage before one of my lovely ladies departs; the OHC which awaits a buyer. Any guesses on which is the hottest handler of the lot here?

Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-garage-modified-1.jpg

Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI-garage-modified-2.jpg

Will keep posting on further experiences as I get to know the new lady in my life better

Last edited by skjlives : 23rd August 2011 at 14:56. Reason: Completion of Comprehensive initial ownership experience
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Old 21st August 2011, 16:37   #2
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Let me be the first one to congratulate you. It's a great car.

When I was looking to upgrade, test
drove a TSI and forgot there are other vehicles to consider.
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Old 23rd August 2011, 15:04   #3
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Moved to review section.

Congrats on the car skjlives. Seeing a lot of Laura TSi threads popping up from bangalore.
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Old 23rd August 2011, 15:28   #4
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Smile Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

@Skjlives,

What a fantastic looking car. Congratulations.

Happy mile crunching and drive safely.

BTW need more pics interior and exterior of the beauty. Any mods planned?
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Old 23rd August 2011, 15:54   #5
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Congratulations and nice choice of colour. Do post some pictures of insides as well.

How much did it cost you OTR Bangalore? How much discount TAFE was able to give you? Do give a cost breakup and how much you paid to change the shoes.

Also did you upgrade to a 17" Alloys (Sorry i did not see that on the thread) or are you running with 16"?
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Old 23rd August 2011, 16:03   #6
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Brilliant machinery you got there ! Undoubtedly the best driver's car south of 3-Series and a perfect upgrade from your City. For anyone upgrading from City/Lancer/Cedia/Palio 1.6, this is the car to buy.

Mind sharing how much did you pay finally ? And why did you choose Ambiente over Classic ? Also "kitna deti hai"
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Old 23rd August 2011, 16:05   #7
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Congrats on the beast, Skjlives. Its literally pouring Laura's on TBHP. Your's seems to be the latest addition.
Is this the TSi Ambiente or the new trimmed down classic?
Good that you upgraded the tyres. The OEM Goodyear NCT5 are worst than worse.

Some interior pics would be great.
Lastly, enjoy the 160 horses. Let them free, everytime you are behind the wheels .
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Old 23rd August 2011, 16:16   #8
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Goodness, yet another Laura pops out of the crunch can. Congrats Skjlives! She looks brilliant, keep her happy and she wont disappoint you.

Somehow beyond belief I too found TAFE to be more responsive on both fronts - Sales and Service. Still early days i guess, lets see whats in store. Drive safe.
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Old 23rd August 2011, 16:56   #9
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Quote:
Originally Posted by luky_13 View Post
Somehow beyond belief I too found TAFE to be more responsive on both fronts - Sales and Service. Still early days i guess, lets see whats in store. Drive safe.
May be they are still paying for their past sins in terms of general reputation, but whether they are back up to scratch, we will find out as we go through a few service experiences.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swanand Inamdar View Post
Is this the TSi Ambiente or the new trimmed down classic?
Good that you upgraded the tyres. The OEM Goodyear NCT5 are worst than worse.

Some interior pics would be great.
Lastly, enjoy the 160 horses. Let them free, everytime you are behind the wheels .
This is the Ambiente, and the one with fog lamps, just to be sure! Yup - I drove the NCTs for precisely 4 km, the distance between the car dealer and the tire dealer.
I guess I have to wait for the run-in period to let all the horses loose, but even otherwise it has been fun so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ethanhunt123 View Post
For anyone upgrading from City/Lancer/Cedia/Palio 1.6, this is the car to buy.

Mind sharing how much did you pay finally ? And why did you choose Ambiente over Classic ? Also "kitna deti hai"
Actually, I know someone who has owned a Corolla for nearly 6 years and is now looking at the Laura TSI as an option, although along with a few other options such as Laura Elegance AT and Jetta Comfortline.

No specific reason to go for the Ambiente rather than classic. I guess everything other than the rear ac vents can be done aftermarket anyway. But I did not feel like going for the most stripped down version of the Laura - kind of takes away the special feeling of owning a premium car. My OTR worked out to about 15.25, post the corporate discounts etc, although I'm not sure if this rate is still available.

Early days for "kitna deti hai", will post updates when I have complete data points. Right now the liters per 100 km reading has been fluctuating from 8.5 to 14 odd depending on traffic conditions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
How much did it cost you OTR Bangalore? How much discount TAFE was able to give you? Do give a cost breakup and how much you paid to change the shoes.

Also did you upgrade to a 17" Alloys (Sorry i did not see that on the thread) or are you running with 16"?
Discount worked out to almost 10% of the rack rate of 17L OTR, give or take.

The shoe change came for around 10 grand, including balancing, fitting and nitrogen filling (for 4 tires only, i left the spare tire as is). I did not upgrade alloys. The stock alloys are 15".

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghodlur View Post
BTW need more pics interior and exterior of the beauty. Any mods planned?
Interior pics coming up shortly. Only mod so far is tire upgrade to 205/65/15 Yokos. Planning to add GPS and 3D Kagu mats and of course the convex right side ORVM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bloodred View Post
When I was looking to upgrade, test
drove a TSI and forgot there are other vehicles to consider.
Honestly speaking, I only drove the Laura TSI as my "comprehensive and extensive market survey" before deciding on this car. The only other one I would have TD'ed was Kizashi, but with the pricing on offer did not waste my time.
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Old 23rd August 2011, 17:11   #10
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Congrats on the new car. All these Laura pictures are tempting me to visit a Skoda showroom and buy one
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Old 23rd August 2011, 18:37   #11
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Congrats skjlives! Welcome to the TSI club! You belong to a rare breed of petrolheads my friend. I went through quite a simiar elimination process. I wanted a petrol car and at this price point no other car was even worth TDing for the petrolhead in me.

Skoda and their Fog lamps. Prospective customers should be advised to supply their own fog lamps along with their booking cheque if they wish to have fog lamps on their cars.

Good to see that you got good service from TAFE. It is really the presence of Vinayak that has made them more customer friendly.

Good choice going for the Yokos. Last minute decision eh?


Quote:
Originally Posted by skjlives View Post
[u]
Comparison with my previous ride - First thing on my mind - Throttle response. Why do I not see my OHC's razor sharp throttle response in any other car I drive, including my new TSI.
The razor sharp throttle response of the Corolla is the one thing I miss in my Laura. Once the turbo kicks in, the power delivery is limitless. On an open road if you floor the throttle in second or third gear you can almost disappear into thin air from the traffic around you. The first gear is quite short unlike your OHC , shift into second quickly if you want to fly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by skjlives View Post
Any guesses on which is the hottest handler of the lot here?
Without a doubt , it has to be that cycle which has the stiffest suspension of them all.
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Old 23rd August 2011, 19:35   #12
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Congratulations skjlives!

A wonderful choice and I completely agree with your choice of colour. There is something special about the Silver Laura.

Some interiors shots will be great
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Old 23rd August 2011, 23:22   #13
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santoshbhat View Post
Good choice going for the Yokos. Last minute decision eh?

The razor sharp throttle response of the Corolla is the one thing I miss in my Laura. Once the turbo kicks in, the power delivery is limitless. On an open road if you floor the throttle in second or third gear you can almost disappear into thin air from the traffic around you. The first gear is quite short unlike your OHC , shift into second quickly if you want to fly.

Without a doubt , it has to be that cycle which has the stiffest suspension of them all.
Santosh, I actually set out to get Turanzas like we discussed, but found them nowhere. Then chatted up with Govind at Milivision who explained that Yokos had a reinforced sidewall and should be less susceptible to sidewall damage than Michelins. Also saw a lot of positive feedback on the v550 db series here on the forum, so decided to take the plunge. Last minute decision - Yes. I like the ride and haven't really tested the grip, so we'll know that going forward.

I agree - the throttle response bit is more for moving from standstill, where these old jap cars rock completely. And as you pointed out, the first is indeed very short in the TSI.

The firefox is a beauty. Believe me, it has the same thrill or even more at 55 kmph, than the Laura can provide at 155 kmph . And while taking turns at "high speeds", the body roll is actually negative, if you know what I mean
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Old 24th August 2011, 00:20   #14
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Congrats Skjlives, welcome to the TSI club. No other petrol car in the market today to match the TSI in the given segment.

I am one of the unlucky ones who got conned by Vinayak cars into believing that Ambiente TSI models have no fogs anymore. Sad that the missing fog lamps issue came up in Team-BHP after i took delivery of my car sans the fogs. Even I had heard good things about Vinayak and hence decided to go with them. But your recent experience with them says a lot about their integrity. I cant believe they can still be lying about the missing fogs even after they know that people are now aware of this.

Anyways, see if you can upgrade to 16 or 17 inch alloys. The result is awesome looks and amazing handling.
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Old 24th August 2011, 09:03   #15
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Default Re: Riding the Power High on my Silver Ambiente Laura TSI

Congrats on the beast skjlives!

I am impressed with that fact that you are able to drive this car on slow speed breakers without having to change to first gear or ride the clutch.

Please keep the post updated on your impressions about drive ability once you have covered some more distance in bumper to bumper city driving especially as compared to OHC.

Cheers and happy mile crunching.
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