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Old 24th August 2011, 13:57   #1
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Default My new escape: Pre-owned Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Why 'escape'? Because everytime i get into that drivers seat, nothing else matters- its just me and the beast. And what a beast she is! I have divided this review into sections:

1. The decision making process (including alternatives)
2. The deal
3. The car: exterior
4. The car: interior
5. The car: drive and experiences
6. Verdict and retrospect

1. The decision making process
After moving back from Singapore, I was on the market for a car in the 10-11L range. I have been using an ONHC on my visits here, and she has done me great service. 40k kms and not a single technical fault. However, this move was permanent, and so a newer car was on the agenda. I was discouraged from buying a new car in this price range, as the options basically boiled down to the Vento and the ANHC. Wanting to move up a segment, I started researching the used car market. I knew that in this price bracket there were several good deals to be had:

a. Honda Accord (previous gen)
b. Altis
c. Laura
d. Old Superb (maybe)
e. Jetta
f. Civic

Given the horror stories on Skoda after-sales, I immediately struck off the Superb and Laura from my list. I found the Jetta to be too boring, and scarcity was an issue as well, so that was removed too. The altis is too much like the old corolla, and the styling just doesnt appeal to me. That left me with the Hondas. I found several good examples of the old Accord, some with as low as 10-12k km's and in great condition for around 10L. I also found many Civics (including a pristine silver sports edition with 12k on the clock for less than 10L, unfortunately automatic), but was discouraged by the fact that the model is being completely replaced next year. I was pretty much set on the Accord, when a strange thing happened. Initial Ownership Reviews of the Laura 1.8 TSi started popping up all over TBHP and fellow auto afficionados were swearing by this car. Thus far i hadnt even bothered to test it out, and decided the time was right to do so. I went over to TAFE and took it for a spin. 5 KM later, i was sold. I wanted, no, needed this car. Immediately i started searching for a used one, and managed to find a gun-metal grey example with around 13k on the clock. Fully tinted windows, lip spoiler, stanley leather. Asking price: 12.5L. Slightly out of my budget but i tried to negotiate. The deal was almost done for 11.5L when the owner decided he would wait till he bought a new car first. I wasnt prepared to wait that long, and continued searching. As luck would have it, an ad popped up on Carwale.com for a 5.5k silver Laura petrol at a dealership in Koramangala one morning. I immediately called the dealer and signaled my interest. That afternoon, i went over for an inspection. The car looked too good to be true! 5.8k on the clock, absolutely stock, no accidents, no service history to worry about due to the low mileage, the interior even smelled new! I had to have this one.

2. The deal
The dealer said he would not let go of this car for anything less than 11.75L, which was about a lakh over my budget. I went over to a friends dealer (who is quite well known and respected) and mentioned the deal to him. He called and negotiated on my behalf, took over the deal, and we settled for 11.25L. On the side, i noticed a Bangalore Club sticker on the car, and being a member myself i was able to track down the original owner and get a history report on the car. It was being sold due to 'under use' as it was stored in a garage in Cochin for several months with nobody to drive it!

My ordeal with Kotak Mahindra for the financing lasted about 2 weeks (detailed report in the Car Finance section: mods could you please help me post the link?) after which i swore never to do business with them again. Finally, i took delivery of the car, did the puja, and drove her home! An almost-new Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi was now mine for just over 11.4 L (all in)!

3. The Car- Exterior
When compared to the old Laura, the new shape is a world apart, especially from head-on. The front looks more aggressive, while at the same time more premium. The bulge in the bonnet only adds to the feeling that there is something special under the hood. Also, being an '09 Laura, she came stock with front fog lights! Side-on, the body colours 'B' pillars set this car apart, and add to its character. The 15" wheels give it a gentler look than it is capable of, but are a necessity for Bangalore roads in my opinion. The rear is arguably her least flattering angle, with bland styling and no drama at all (mainly due to the tail lamps). Overall, however, the car looks like she belongs in the premium segment that Skoda have placed her. Every rupee.

4. The Car- Interior
The interior is a very pleasant place to be- great quality plastics and a decent colour scheme on the trim and seats. I am not a fan of the silver panels (feel very plasticky) and am looking to change these to wood finish when i find the time and availability (if anyone can help me source these, it would be a great help- TAFE said they couldnt). Mine is an '09 model, and hence comes with auto-dimming mirror and rain sensing wipers- i have found both these features to be a boon so far, and find it unfortunate that Skoda has removed them from the newer examples. The sound system is frankly fantastic for a stock setup, with 6 speakers including 2 tweeters, and aux input in the armrest. The low-end is pretty decent, with a good mid and upper range to suit all kinds of music (I usually have house / trance or hip-hop / R&B playing). It also doubles up as a screen for the rear park sensors, and a nifty feature is the lowering of audio volume when reverse gear is engaged (adjustable in the options menu). The front centre arm rest is useful only when pushed all the way back, otherwise interfering with gear changes- it does however provide a nice cubby-hole for storage. This theme is echoed throughout the interior, with lots of spaces to store bottles, documents, coins, etc. One particularly thoughtful and useful feature is the plastic clip on the right side of the front windshield, placed to hold parking coupons. Great stuff! The glovebox and front armrest are air conditioned, which could be useful on long drives. Driving position is fabulous thanks to the array of adjustments that one can make to the seat (height, reach, lumbar, back) as well as the steering wheel (rake and reach). The footrest beside the clutch is also a good addition and actually reduces the amount you 'ride' the clutch in my opinion. The car comes stock with a nice loud horn, essential for BLR! I find the on board computer quite useful, and am always scrolling through the readouts to see my avg consumption, speed, etc. The outside temp guage, however, is pretty much useless as it is always inaccurate by a few degrees. I recently had window tints installed at V-Cool for all windows and the front windshield (which doubled the cost!). They were very professional and took particular care not to damage the all-important plastic clip on the windshield. I have also been in touch with Karlsson for the leather seats and will decide on the colour / grade as soon as i find time to do so.

5. The Car- Drive and Experience
In a word, fan-bleeding-tastic! A short first gear gives you an intro to the thrills ahead. Shift into second, build her up to 2.1k RPM and you start to get an idea of what this car is about. Once that turbo kicks in, all bets are off- she rockets forward, pushing you back in your seat (thank god for that lumbar support) all the way till the redline at 6k RPM. Another cog up and you feel that surge once again, only by this time you're doing speeds which are only justified on long, open roads with nobody in sight. By the time you hit 4th and 5th gear, you are struck by another shocker- she still pulls like shes in second! Its when you finally notch the shifter into 6th that you can lean back and cruise- just dont bother looking at the speedo. Wow!

There have been mixed opinions on the turbo lag, however im happy with it as i feel this makes the car more driveable in city traffic. No need to deal with that surge of instantaneous power when you are bumper to bumper, and when you need it, downshift to second or first and you are fine. The suspension has been great, however i have cringed a few times when encountering potholes unexpectedly- the car gives you a pretty audible 'thump' as if to say "calm down and be careful". I have found tyre noise quite high, and this has led me to the decision to change the rubber asap. The stock Good Years are just plain rubbish. I am planning to retain the 15" wheels however, thanks to the state of the roads here in BLR.

Steering response is average, and there definitely isnt as much feedback as say an Ikon or Fiesta, but reasonable enough to enjoy the drive. The brakes are excellent, sometimes a little too responsive, which takes some getting used to. I have on a couple of occasions seen the ESR light blink on and off, particularly during rapid acceleration in second gear- great to know someones got my back I have to mention the ridiculous omission of a convex ORVM on the right side- i just dont understand the logic of this decision on Skodas part (though it did give me some comfort when i discovered that merc have done the same thing on the E350's left side!). Will be getting the one off ebay UK soon.

Overall, she feels extremely safe and well planted at any speed, and the European engineering really shines through. The drive is enough reason to buy this car.

6. Verdict and Retrospect
I would rate this car as a segment leader based on the driving experience and overall engineering. The Civic is too old, the Accord too expensive, the Altis too bland, and the Jetta isnt available in petrol.

In retrospect, I am glad i picked the Laura over the old Accord. It has been a pleasure so far, and im sure will continue to be so in the future (after-sales service permitting)!

Pics to follow...
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Old 24th August 2011, 14:21   #2
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Default Re: My new escape: Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Thread moved here from Assembly line section. Thanks for sharing
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Old 24th August 2011, 14:38   #3
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Default Re: My new escape: Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Nirav, you got a steal there mate! Almost a new car with 4 L off the sticker. And by the way, you have more features on that car than are coming on the 2011 models, like rain sensing wipers, cooled glovebox etc.

Great buy. Have fun and here's to many miles of safe and enjoyable driving.
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Old 24th August 2011, 14:44   #4
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Default Re: My new escape: Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Congrats Nirav on this great purchase. Lucky enough though to get it at that price. Good choice. Fingers crossed, awaiting for pictures of your car. Drive safely. Indeed, Skoda Laura is an engineering marvel.

Last edited by yogeshnaik : 24th August 2011 at 14:46.
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Old 24th August 2011, 14:50   #5
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Default Re: My new escape: Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Another positive TSi review. Looks like a visit to the Skoda showroom is in my future
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Old 24th August 2011, 15:20   #6
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Default Re: My new escape: Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Quote:
Originally Posted by nirav View Post
5. The Car- Drive and Experience
In a word, fan-bleeding-tastic! A short first gear gives you an intro to the thrills ahead. Shift into second, build her up to 2.1k RPM and you start to get an idea of what this car is about. Once that turbo kicks in, all bets are off- she rockets forward, pushing you back in your seat (thank god for that lumbar support) all the way till the redline at 6k RPM. Another cog up and you feel that surge once again, only by this time you're doing speeds which are only justified on long, open roads with nobody in sight. By the time you hit 4th and 5th gear, you are struck by another shocker- she still pulls like shes in second! Its when you finally notch the shifter into 6th that you can lean back and cruise- just dont bother looking at the speedo. Wow!
Congratulations on a very good buy, and what an apt description of the emotions that you go through as a driver when driving this babe. Excellent car on any kinds of roads and driving it is just pure meditation.

Do post some pictures of the beauty when you get time.

Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 24th August 2011 at 15:30.
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Old 24th August 2011, 15:31   #7
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Smile Re: My new escape: Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

@Nirav,


Congratulation man, you got the deal of the month or should I say deal of the year. Skoda Laura for 11+L, its a fantastic deal and that too with such a low running. You are one lucky man. Good to see that you are enjoying every moment of your buying.

BTW its a great sin to not post the pics of the car on T-BHP, please do so and we need lots of them.

Happy mile crunching and drive safely.
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Old 24th August 2011, 15:34   #8
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Default Re: My new escape: Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Talk about a pre-worshipped deal! Congratulations. A *nearly new* Laura for 11.4 is decent by Bangalore standards, but not Mumbai. Here, a friend got a brand new 1.8 TSI for 13.5ish lakhs and a massive discount.

At only 5,800 clicks, you beat my Civic (got her with 7,400 kms), but not my OHC Vtec (3,000 odd kms on the odo).

What was the interest rate like on your Kotak loan? Reason I ask is, the higher interest rates on used cars minimise the financial advantage, especially when buying <2 year old cars (which are priced close to new).

Congrats again, and enjoy the free-revving motor. It's an absolute jewel.
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Old 24th August 2011, 15:35   #9
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Default Re: My new escape: Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Congrats Nirav! It indeed is a brilliant buy at 11.25 Lacs.

I also loved the way you have described your drive experience. Happy miles munching!
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Old 24th August 2011, 15:39   #10
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Default Re: My new escape: Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Another Laura TSI from Namma Bengaluru! WOW Its pouring Laura TSIs this monsoon on T-BHP!

Congrats mate. That's a seriously good deal you've got there mate considering the amount some of us have have paid for this beauty (incl yours truly).

Tyre upgrade has become almost compulsory on the Laura. Those Goodyears are crap. As per Skjlives' recent experience Yoko DBs seem to be the most logical choice given that Bridgestones Turnazas are unavailable. FYI I have 16" Michelin PLCs on my TSI and am pretty happy with them so far (touchwood).

Have you checked the oil level? The TSIs are known to consume a bit of oil in the first 5~10K kms or so. I have had to top up about 750 ml at 3000 kms when the oil level was close to 50% on the dipstick.
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Old 24th August 2011, 15:45   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santoshbhat View Post

Have you checked the oil level? The TSIs are known to consume a bit of oil in the first 5~10K kms or so. I have had to top up about 750 ml at 3000 kms when the oil level was close to 50% on the dipstick.
Hi Santosh, thanks for the tip on the tyres. I had the oil levels checked at Vinayak (close to my house) and everything was A-OK. Am getting the car balanced / aligned today, as well as checking on prices for new rubber at Millivision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Talk about a pre-worshipped deal! Congratulations. A *nearly new* Laura for 11.4 is decent by Bangalore standards, but not Mumbai. Here, a friend got a brand new 1.8 TSI for 13.5ish lakhs and a massive discount.

At only 5,800 clicks, you beat my Civic (got her with 7,400 kms), but not my OHC Vtec (3,000 odd kms on the odo).

What was the interest rate like on your Kotak loan? Reason I ask is, the higher interest rates on used cars minimise the financial advantage, especially when buying <2 year old cars (which are priced close to new).

Congrats again, and enjoy the free-revving motor. It's an absolute jewel.
Thanks GTO. I am paying around 15+% for the loan of around 7L: i factored in the interest costs on this, and discounted the savings on the price difference of diesel and mileage etc- it does equalise the cost a fair bit, however the experience of this engine adds that intangible value that all us petrolheads understand so well

Note from the Team-BHP Support Team: Please use the "edit" button if posting within 30 minutes of the first post, instead of creating another back-to-back post.

Also use "Multi Quote" option for quoting Multiple posts.

Last edited by n_aditya : 26th August 2011 at 08:41. Reason: posts merged
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Old 24th August 2011, 16:17   #12
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Default Re: My new escape: Pre-owned Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Congrats on the car bro ! I wish you all the luck for the horns though , I got a Laura L&K 2.0 A/T and have changed the horns 3 times since i got my car off the showroom 1.5 years ago , its still in the warranty period , God knows what will happen after the period is over , the last time i went to the showroom to get them replaced , i came to know that almost four of the seven - eight people standing beside me were there to get their horns changed , someone from the showroom told me that Skoda was about to join hands with the likes of Bosch or Hella for their horns , don't know about the truth.
cheers !
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Old 24th August 2011, 16:28   #13
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Default Re: My new escape: Pre-owned Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

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Originally Posted by sajid33 View Post
Congrats on the car bro ! I wish you all the luck for the horns though , I got a Laura L&K 2.0 A/T and have changed the horns 3 times since i got my car off the showroom 1.5 years ago , its still in the warranty period , God knows what will happen after the period is over , the last time i went to the showroom to get them replaced , i came to know that almost four of the seven - eight people standing beside me were there to get their horns changed , someone from the showroom told me that Skoda was about to join hands with the likes of Bosch or Hella for their horns , don't know about the truth.
cheers !
@Nirav: Wish that your experience is different and the 'honeymoon' period lasts for ever.
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Old 24th August 2011, 16:44   #14
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Default Re: My new escape: Pre-owned Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Quote:
Originally Posted by sajid33 View Post
Congrats on the car bro ! I wish you all the luck for the horns though , I got a Laura L&K 2.0 A/T and have changed the horns 3 times since i got my car off the showroom 1.5 years ago , its still in the warranty period , God knows what will happen after the period is over , the last time i went to the showroom to get them replaced , i came to know that almost four of the seven - eight people standing beside me were there to get their horns changed , someone from the showroom told me that Skoda was about to join hands with the likes of Bosch or Hella for their horns , don't know about the truth.
cheers !
The horns on the 2011 Lauras are different from the windtone horns they used to fit earlier. The horn on my car sounds very much like the ones on my Corolla, unlike the ones that they used to have on Octavias and earlier Lauras. Maybe Skoda has changed the horns for this very reason.
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Old 24th August 2011, 16:51   #15
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Default Re: My new escape: Pre-owned Skoda Laura 1.8 TSi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santoshbhat View Post
The horns on the 2011 Lauras are different from the windtone horns they used to fit earlier. The horn on my car sounds very much like the ones on my Corolla, unlike the ones that they used to have on Octavias and earlier Lauras. Maybe Skoda has changed the horns for this very reason.
But Nirav's Laura is the same '09 model as mine , hence the advice about the horns , well, thats good if Skoda has changed their Horn supplier, upcoming skoda customers might now live trouble free
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