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Old 14th December 2012, 02:04   #1
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Default Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

Skoda Laura VRS Ownership Experience and Review

This is my ownership report of the only affordable 'sports' car in India - The Skoda Laura VRS.
A little background, I have owned quite a few hardcore sports cars in the past, ranging from 2003 Evo 8, 2009 Evo X, 2005 STI, 2008 Legacy Spec B and was a license SCCA track instructor in the US. Also I own a 2010 Laura TSI Ambiente as well, so expect comparisons in the review, which I expect will help people make up their choice between the two.
I know.. I know.. the RS and TSI have the same engine, but trust me that’s where the similarities end.

Exteriors

Upfront the RS gets a new bumper with LED DRLs, and round fogs. I've heard mixed review of this look, but personally I like this look better than the Ambiente's, more aggressive airdams and the DRLs give a nice euro touch. Also the bumper dimensions have changed, where as the ambiente's bumper curve as you go lower, these stay flat. And finally there seems to be enough space behind the airdam grille for a nice FMIC if anyone decides to up the power while retaining the honeycomb grill.

The DRLs are on high intensity when the light switch is in the off position and dim out as you increase the lights. The fogs are cornering, means at slow speeds the one in the direction of the turn comes on and the sweetly dims out, which makes my guard constantly tell me ”Bhaiya, ek bulb kharab hai”. The headlights are auto-levelling which means there is no beam adjustment dial like in the Ambiente. They do a nice little configuration and reset dance when you turn them on. It’s not for show, they actually need to reset themselves with the levelling sensor in the front and back of the car. Also at speeds of above 40kmph, the lights swivel in the direction your turning in, which is a pretty impressive feature for driving in dark roads, especially helpful in the mountains. Move to the back and the car gets a slightly modified rear bumper. Honestly i'll take a while for anyone to figure out what changed, but if u look carefully, its very much in line with the changes up front, straighter lines going down. There is the standard Skoda spoiler, which is purely for show and the chrome exhaust tips stick out about two inches from the bumper to prevent buring the bumper should you decide to drive cat-less.

The rims are 16 inch versions of the standard Euro VRS 17 inchers, and come wrapped in 205s and look OK. Nothing too exciting about them but they help complete the look of the car's subtle sporty intent.
The car gets a sunroof but honestly I never understood sunroofs on a car with sporty intentions... It adds weight to the wrong end of the car, pushing up the center of gravity which negatively affects handling. I've grown to like it as it gets give a nice airy feel to the cabin, even when closed as it lets the light in.

The turn signals are integrated into the side mirrors (like the L&K) and has nice puddle lamps which come surprisingly handy in India. The mirrors are power closing unlike the Ambiente, and can be remotely closed by the key FoB which i must say is surprisingly useful. Also if the mirrors are closed using the remote, and you unlock the car, they remain closed till you open the driver side door, and voila, they open with the door. Pretty sweet feature. Only disadvantage is that the puddle light on the mirrors don’t turn on until the mirror is in open position.

Interiors

Step inside and your treated to some of the nicest/comfortable sport buckets i've ever been in. I can pretty much place these next to the Recaro Buckets in the RS5. The problem with most bucket seats is that in the daily 'non' track drive, they will literally kill you (especially in Indian Roads). The VRS seats are a great compromise between hardcore side bolsters and daily driving cushion comfort. The combination of leather and gripper cloth on the contact surfaces makes a very comfortable seating place. If the price of these seats wasn’t insanely high, I’d have ordered another set for the Ambiente as well.. :-). The seats get manual adjustments which is fine by me. Only weird thing is the choice of WHITE alcantara for the seat tops.. no clue as to why they chose such a color. It’s going to be task to clean it a few years down the line.

Beyond the seats you'll notice something pretty refreshing.. all black interiors, which seem to have become a rarity in Indian cars. My preference has always been black interiors, easier to clean, makes the car feel more cozy, and good for privacy. The plastics and soft touch components are the same as the Ambiente which already oozes quality. I have Stanley interiors on the Ambiente and this is at par. The leather grains are very small and make the surface very smooth. But with time i see this as a bit of an issue as the wrinkles would be more apparent here than on the grain style on the stanleys..

The dashboard cluster has changed with new dials, different lettering on the dials, and an aluminium lookalike surround connecting the two gauges. Red marks exist on the speedo at 40 and 60, I suppose indicating the speed limits for city and highway driving. The HVAC controls are very slightly different, particularly the temp control dial. The stereo gets the touchscreen VAG unit, which is a pretty capable unit. It takes a bit of fiddling to find all the settings. I find the speed sensitive volume particularly useful as the stiff suspension and wide tires do howl a bit. I am totally puzzled why Skoda left out the Bluetooth on this car though. The gear leaver is from the 2011 build cars, which is slightly shorter and looses the tacky chrome shifter from the 2009 Ambiente, for a nice simpler white on black pattern.

If there is one thing that sold me on this car, it was the steering wheel. Its so perfect, almost at par with the MOMO steerings on the Evos, or the Flat bottom ones on the VW Golf Rs. Size, thickness of the grip, thumb pads, perforated leather... NICE !!! Once complaint I've had with the Ambiente's steering is that its was BIG, making the car a bit hard to push around. Make no mistake it was small compared to the massive steering on my Accord V6, but compared to the tiny 530i, its a BIG one. In my experience, the size of the steering should complement the cars size and handling capabilities. If its too big on a car with good handling characteristics, you end up struggling to place the car on the right line and understeer. If it’s too small on a car with a longer wheelbase, you’ll oversteer all over the place and need to constantly correct your line. The one on the VRS is PERFECT for the car.

The sunroof is surprisingly small in size and odd in location. I've a E350 and a 530i both with sunroofs that are huge, and serve the purpose a sunroof is supposed to serve, but the Skoda's appears to be a designer afterthought.. rather than a integrated design element.

The Drive

Everything above is of no value if a sports car, doesn’t drive like a sports car, and that is one thing that works for the RS.. It drives NICE. Acceleration times are marginally better than the Ambiente’s as the wider tires and stiffer suspension help get a good grip by increasing contact patch and reducing sqat at launch. Launched both cars at same rpms and the RS always pulls ahead.

Engine + Transmission

The 1.8TSI is the same unit as in the Ambiente which is a gem to drive with enough torque accessible any time, due to the gearing. The 1.8TSI mated to the 6 speed makes the power accessible all the time, making this car behave faster than my v6 accord which has a 4AT. For those mileage seekers for whom every kmpl counts, and drive their cars at 1k rpm, this is NOT the car for you. Keep this car boiling above 2k, and you are going to love it in any gear, the sheer passing power this car has over most cars on the roads is hilarious(and this means you Mr new 320d). Unless it’s got a V under the hood, or a nice 328i on its back, or costs upward of 35 Lacs, your pretty much set to take on any 4 banger midsize sedan out on the streets. Also the exhaust is marginally louder than the Ambiente. Where as the Ambiente is super quite unless your killing it at 6k rpm, the vRS makes a nice burble. I’d put it down to the exhaust setup which seems to be from the 2.0TSI vRS version rather than the 1.8TSI. I may be wrong here but we’ll find out when I swap this exhaust into my Ambiente, and put a milotek on the vRS.

Handling

The only mechanical changes from the Ambiente are the suspension, and combined with the bigger rims and wider tyres, makes it a damn fun car to drive. Plough it into a corner and find out how different this drives compared to the regular Lauras, trust me its day and night. The ride height plays a bit of a spoilsport and dials a bit of roll into the stiffened setup, but its easily predictable and can be countered by taking corners on the rebound. The stiffer setup is NOT for everyone though. I love it as it does communicate a lot more than the Ambiente. It does get a bit annoying over bad patches, forcing you to go faster as this is the only way to smoothen out the ride. The wider tires tend to tramline a bit on bad patches, but it’s nothing that you can’t get used to or predict.

The added roll due to the increased ride height which is overcome by the stiffer springs. BUT it does increase the centre of gravity of the car which gets pretty visible when u try a force oversteer using a Scandinavian flick. Kind of a ‘shit in your pants’ feeling as the weight swings from left to right as the car behaves like a pendulum, swinging between the two springs playing compression and rebound ping pong. This is due to the increased ride height combined with the stiff suspension, and then you hit the ASC button which helps sort out your line but does little for the stains in your pants. It’s not what you’d expect, especially because it drives so well in all other situations. I’ve repeatedly tried to find a way to predict this and get used to it, but NOPES, no way to get any confidence during this kind of a move, plus my laundry bill keeps getting bigger. Only way to correct this is lower the car. Anti Rollbars won’t help either. Just know that this happens and DONT do it on the stock suspension ride height. And let’s get this straight, 99.999% of us are not going to drive this car that hard anyways, so it’s a non issue. This is just for the 0.001% of us who do, so knowing this behavior is good.

Overall Impressions

Having driven the original Octavia vRS, this car is a huge step up in terms of being a better blend of comfort and sportiness. The new 1.8TSI motor is hugely refined than the old RS, and the gearing has improved. The ride is also marginally better although the ride height is the spoiler to the improvements. It definitely makes the car more usable in Indian conditions but hurts the handling a bit and look a lot. I know that they should have gotten the 2.0T from the A4, but the 1.8T is not behind by much, plus the power band is better suited to Indian traffic conditions.

The car is a very good VFM (@ the current price of 13.5L) for enthusiasts in the Indian market. Aftermarket Parts a plenty, and Pete’s does a good tune job from what I’ve heard. I know I’ll be paying him a visit for some springs and a tune sometime in the coming months.

I’ve done 4000 kms so far, mostly highway, mountains with the little driving in town and am loving every min of it.

A note for those wanting to put Anti-Roll Bars on this car, please ensure you get the sets meant for cars that with auto leveling lights, as getting the other set would make the lights malfunction.

Pictures are attached. Enjoy!
Attached Thumbnails
Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-2012-skoda-laura-vrs-sambar-lake.jpg  

Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-vrs-mirror.jpg  

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Last edited by prithwi-81 : 14th December 2012 at 02:27.
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Old 14th December 2012, 02:54   #2
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Default More Pics from my trips with the vRS

DRLs on medium intensity-
Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-vrs-drls2.jpg

Headlights and Front Airdam
Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-vrs-sneaking-up.jpg

Lighting Setup
Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-vrs-lighting.jpg

Chasing my buddy.. (atleast appear to be..)
Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-vrs-chasing-fiat.jpg

Down by the River
Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-vrs-river.jpg

WHY did they name it Laura, and plaster it all over..
Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-vrs-headlights-peeking.jpg

Last edited by prithwi-81 : 14th December 2012 at 03:19.
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Old 14th December 2012, 03:14   #3
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Default Re: Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

Some more pictures. Notice how the color appears darker and more metallic at night.Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-vrs-night.jpg

And the beauty of a steering wheel.
Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-vrs-steering.jpg
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Old 14th December 2012, 05:05   #4
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Default Re: Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

Beautiful review!

Let me be the first to congratulate you! Posting a review at 3AM in the morning definitly shows the kind of excitement it has brought.

Really appreciate all the comparisons with the Ambiente. I started glancing through the review and read that you have an Ambiente, and then I got really interested into reading the whole review. Afterall - the RS threads had a lot of people crying over the fact that the RS is just too similar to the regular Laura!

Lovely lovely colour! I hope you are planning on posting more interior pictures soon as well.
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Old 14th December 2012, 07:24   #5
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Default Re: Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

That is quite a lineup of cars you have and have owned in the past.

Though I can't immediately tell the small changes in the bumper design and several other things, not once have I mistaken a vRs to be just another Skoda Laura. The car just looks different and even if those badges were not there, I can easily tell that its not the usual Laura on the street. Skoda have done this car beautifully. Should be nothing new to them but making it looking unique and different in a subtle way is whats most interesting.

Well written initial ownership report.
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Old 14th December 2012, 08:41   #6
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Super review, bud! The color definitely looks different during the day light than and at night. That blue shade is so sporty-yet-so-elegant. The paint finish oozes with quality moreso, during the night. I just wonder if, they could have provided sportier looking alloys which would have upped the look all the more. Probably, they wanted to play safe and chose an austere design which would please all IMHO.

That shot of the headlamps (to illustrate the Laura branding) from behind the bushes was the highlight, wonder what made you hide there!!

The steering looks meaty as well. Awaiting more interior and exterior shots.

As a side note, mind sharing the top speed you bounced the needles to?. Not forgetting the omnipresent question -kitna deti hai?

Last edited by MetalBuff : 14th December 2012 at 08:53.
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Old 14th December 2012, 10:49   #7
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Default Re: Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

Beautiful colour! Looks better than the Yellow vRS.

I think the darker shade in the night is because of the effect of gas-discharge street lamp you parked the car under.
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Old 14th December 2012, 11:02   #8
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Default Re: Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

Quote:
Originally Posted by prithwi-81 View Post
[b][u]the original Octavia vRS, this car is a huge step up in terms of being a better blend of comfort and sportiness. The new 1.8TSI motor is hugely refined than the old RS, and the gearing has improved. The ride is also marginally better although the ride height is the spoiler to the improvements. It definitely makes the car more usable in Indian conditions but hurts the handling a bit and look a lot.

The car is a very good VFM (@ the current price of 13.5L) for enthusiasts in the Indian market.
Excellent Review - Lets say just the review i was waiting for - a comparison of the new vs the old. I have the older variant of the RS - I love the ability to take corners at reasonable speeds, now two things which i could not have resolved in my head.

A - With a higher ground clearance - one does not need to be worried of city commuting - i normally have to keep active attention on road conditions, this gets amplified on high way drives for the sudden broken patch - well one of the reasons also i like this car is the very same reason it can be a pain - I found the regular ambiente setup pretty soft - How much of a difference is this - Lets say the old RS being very stiff and the Ambiente being very soft ? can we say this one is somewhere in the middle ? unfortunately there is no new RS available for a test drive - Hence the query. Your perspective is extremely valuable as you have both the versions of the TSI and have driven the older VRS.


B - You mentioned 13.5L is this OTR or ex-showroom - Please advise.

Thanks for tolerating my rant.

Best - ML.
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Old 14th December 2012, 11:19   #9
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Default Re: Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

Thanks a lot for posting this review. Spending those extra bucks for the Vrs over the regular 1.8 Tsi was a dilemma yet to be sorted. And walla!! You were sent to clear just that! Great review.
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Old 14th December 2012, 11:23   #10
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Default Re: Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

Nice review of a nice car! Being a TSI-Ambient owner, your review was particularly interesting to read given that you own both cars. There was no vRS when I bought my car in 2011 and if there was one of offer, I would've surely gone for it over the Ambient.

Though I love to drive my cars fast on open roads, about 75 to 80% of times I use my car in Bangalore city (where fresh tar has gone extinct and speed breakers are multiplying like rats ), many times with parents, wife and baby in tow. It is at these times that I love the supple suspension of the regular TSI. I haven't owned any fancy cars in the past and the suspension set up on the stock TSI itself puts a silly grin on my face wheneven I drive it hard on open roads. I must mention that I have upgraded to 16" rims.


Quote:
Originally Posted by prithwi-81 View Post
[b][u]
Keep this car boiling above 2k, and you are going to love it in any gear, the sheer passing power this car has over most cars on the roads is hilarious(and this means you Mr new 320d). Unless itís got a V under the hood, or a nice 328i on its back, or costs upward of 35 Lacs, your pretty much set to take on any 4 banger midsize sedan out on the streets.
I love the way you have put this and totally agree with you. The 1.8 TSI is a real gem and my humble TSI with no visible frills on the outside, is a true sleeper on the highway. I've had a lots of fun messing with the Bimmers, Audis and Mercs on highways.
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Old 14th December 2012, 11:29   #11
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Default Re: Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

Great report. Your car ownership portfolio has been amazing!

I did read this in the morning, but it was from the phone. The first thing I did after logging on from the PC is going through your thread all again. Nice writeup I must say.

Congratulations and wish yo many more miles ahead!
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Old 14th December 2012, 11:47   #12
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Post Re: Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

Congratulations on a splendid report. As a Laura vRS owner, it gives me a certain sense of pride and satisfaction to read all of this. You've reaffirmed every single reason why I chose it over the regular TSI or even the 2.0 TDI earlier this year when I bought one. It is a tremendous feeling. Thank you very much

The blue works beautifully on the vRS. And I particularly enjoyed that shot where you've captured the RS in the OVRM of your "buddy". Nice touch there!

P.S. Are you saying 13.5 L OTR???

Last edited by Omtoatom : 14th December 2012 at 11:56.
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Old 14th December 2012, 13:44   #13
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Congratulations on the purchase mate. I really agree with you in calling it the most affordable 'sports car'. IMO, the VRS is one of the best looking cars in the country and skoda has done a great job in providing the combination of beauty and the beast.

The blue shade looks much better than those yellow counterparts I have seen and the difference in colour during night maybe due to lighting, as already mentioned by a fellow bhp-ian.

Overall a very nicely written and comprehensive ownership report. Do add some pics of the interiors and keep the thread updated along with the service updates.

Take Care and Drive Safe..!

Last edited by dZired : 14th December 2012 at 13:52.
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Old 14th December 2012, 14:01   #14
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Default Re: Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

Answers to all your Queries:

Top Speed achieved so far is around 180kmph (on a closed circuit.. :-p). It'll go all the way to 200kmph, but gets a little scary considering our road conditions.

Price was 13.5L Ex Showroom. 13.99 is what is being offered by Skoda after an angry email from me. Add the corp discount + some other jugar, and you can get away with 13.5L. I have been eyeing this car since launch, and still couldn't justify the 16.18L Ex Showroom price.. when it dropped to the current level, I jumped on the deal. Pushed my corporate purchasing team to process the order in 1 day, + 7 days to ship from factory and Voila.. BLUE VRS at my door.

The suspension stiffness lies between the old VRS and the Ambiente TSI. It gets bouncy at low speeds, but its livable.

Kitna Deti Hai? 9-12kmpl in 40-60kmph city traffic. This can be achieved by feathering the throttle, coasting when needed and keeping the engine under 2.8-3k rpm. 14-15kmpl on highways if you stay below 140kmph. One thing i've noticed is that the car gives the best fuel economy between 80-120kmph, which makes sense as its tuned for Euro speed limits. And this is with just 4k on the odo.
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Old 14th December 2012, 14:09   #15
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Default Re: Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report

Steering Wheel vs Car Comparo
Lancer Evo 8
Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-2003-lancer-evo-8-.jpg
Name:  2003 Lancer Evolution 8  GSR.jpg
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Lancer Evo X
Name:  2009 Lancer Evo X MR.jpg
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Name:  2009 Lancer Evo X MR 2.jpg
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Laura VRS
Skoda Laura VRS - Officially Unofficial Review and Initial Ownership Report-vrs-steering.jpg
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