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Old 2nd April 2011, 21:21   #1
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Default BMW 320d and Skoda Laura TSI - A petrolhead's initial comparison

BMW 320d vs Skoda Laura TSi: A Petrolhead's comparison

Took delivery of my Deep Sea Blue 320d CE on April 1st from Infinity motors (who were professional , efficient and correct). Saw an M5 being serviced in the garage. It looked mighty.

The car was a March production vehicle. The BMW VIN decoder on the net was not clear on the production month but BMW India was helpful in communicating the production date clearly when I requested

The drive to the garage in my Laura TSI was as always delightful. I was mildly apprehensive about how a diesel ( even the legendary BMW 320d) would feel after the pampering received from a gem of a petrol engine.

The drive back in the 320d was quiet enjoyable even in the auto mode. I was not comfortable in the sport mode yet , kept mixing up the upshfit and downshift directions a few times before deciding to stick to auto for the first drive. The steering, suspension and the grip of the 320d make mincemeat of the Laura TSI. I guess this should be stale news for the long term BMW drivers - but this was my first back to back drives in front wheel and rear wheel drive cars - so the contrast was striking and immediate.
The engine responsiveness - the initial verdict seems to favour the TSI atleast for now, till I am very comfortable in the sport mode and go past the 2000km run in .
The abundant torque seems to come in a little later than the TSI ; and the slight lag especially when you brake and then accelerate seems a shade longer. The diesel does sound noisy after the super quiet TSI.

But the steering - is absolutely delightful , reports of Servotronic being less direct notwithstanding. The initial drives porten great handling dynamics and grip. The iDrive would have been useful. Need to see if I can have it as an option installed later.

Interior and build quality - far superior to the Skoda . Ride - firm but superior (for me) to Laura. The visbility, wing mirror view and visibility were clearly superior. Looks - I guess it is no a brainer even though to a fond eye a Magic Black TSI next to a stunning ( atleast to me) 3 series , still looks impressive.

I wonder how the 320d would feel at very high speeds ? The Laura TSI was supremely confident even at 210kph on the expressway.

While many would question if this is valid or necessary comparison (across segments , vast price difference) , I am sure the next few months will be a great first hand diesel vs petrol, FWD vs RWD education for me. Two excellent drivers' cars , what more could one ask for.

Note from support: Threads merged. Please continue this discussion in the same thread. Thanks

Last edited by .anshuman : 5th April 2011 at 19:08. Reason: threads merged.
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Old 2nd April 2011, 21:21   #2
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Default BMW 320d CE Initial Ownership Experience and a comparison to Laura TSi

Began my BMW booking saga in the middle of March, worried about the duty increase on CKD engines. This was a corporate purchase . Went with Infinity Motors largely based on impressions from their responsiveness , courtesy , transparency.
Dithered over Highline vs CE and decided the nearly 10 lac difference in the on road price is too high for the additions. Chose the deep sea blue with beige interiors. Was promised delivery before the end of the month. But we ended up delaying payments and RTO clearance took till April 1st.

Infinity and BMW India sent me the VIN - when I tried the BMW decoder, the production month was listed as 2010/11 . This caused momentary panic only to be put at rest by BMW India who assured me the production date was March 18th.
Took a preliminary look at the car in their stockyard at Bhiwandi as soon as it arrived.
Got a surprise email from the dealer requesting us to issue a risk assumption letter for the car being kept in Infinity's custody. Took only a few minutes to bluntly refuse saying we cannot and will not assume liability for a car not registered in our name nor covered by an insurance cover in our name. The dealers corp sales advisor (a very courteous and responsive gentleman Balwinder Sahni) was apologetic and assured us it will not be an issue.

RTO, Octroi were cleared by April 1st and I went to take delivery from their Chembur garage as it was closer to my office. If I had known how difficult it was to drive during weekday evening traffic through the narrow lanes on either side of the Metro monster, I would have deferred the delivery date to a weekend.
I drove in my current Laura TSI with another person ; had great difficulty locating the garage - it is well hidden inside a narrow lane leading to the Honda temp show room. Maneuvering the big BMWs must be a nerve racking exercise I guess. I must mention the Black TSI looked good next to the BMWs !

The hand over was less than perfect - the service advisor not quite conversant with the specifics of the model. But I was keen to beat the evening commute horrors - so took delivery and rushed to the nearest diesel pump . Filled it up , followed the person driving the TSI to maneuver through the Chembur traffic around the Metro chaos and made it to the easter express highway. Till reaching the express high way , the auto mode was very useful.

Tried the sport manual mode and kept confusing the upshift and downshift directions and decided to stick to auto.

The steering felt so good and the grip even on a straight high way was indicative of how good it will be. The steering reminded me of the Civics, only better.
Run flats did not seem to cause any ride quality concerns.

The second day took out the car for longer drives and tried the manual mode extensively. Looks promising.
While checking the air pressure /cleaning the car , realized the 12v socket does not come on unless the engine is on (?). I feel there must be a setting somewhere ( or is there one more socket elsewhere -havent searched yet ).
Tyre pressures were off ( L Front 180kPa, R Front 200kPa, LRear and R Rear 240 kPa) . Adjusted to 210 kPa for front and 260 kPa for rear as recommended in the side panel.

Tool kit seems spartan ( 1 screw driver and 1 I dont know what).

Need to check on guidelines for the running in period /any known issues (oil consumption etc..) during the period.
Will keep update the thread with photos and initial impressions. I know 320d is old hat in TBHP but I guess fresh perspective from new owners (especially ex petrol engine fanatics ) may be of interest to prospective buyers.

Last edited by .anshuman : 5th April 2011 at 19:04. Reason: Initial report moved to post#1 and threads merged. Thanks
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Old 2nd April 2011, 21:57   #3
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Default re: BMW 320d and Skoda Laura TSI - A petrolhead's initial comparison

First of all congratulations on your new 3!
I am definately looking forward to this comparison.
What makes this thread so interesting is how the test subjects are so different from each other.infact they are poles apart. Yet they have one thing in common, both are driver's cars. Looking forward to your future comparisons on the two, keep em coming.
Drive safe!

Last edited by mdsaab : 2nd April 2011 at 21:59.
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Old 3rd April 2011, 01:49   #4
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Default re: BMW 320d and Skoda Laura TSI - A petrolhead's initial comparison

Try manual shift mode aggressively to overcome the sluggish power delivery you experience after braking. It'll do wonders. Drive safe.
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Old 3rd April 2011, 11:37   #5
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Default Re: 320d CE Initial Ownership Experience

Congrats on your huge upgrade from your Laura. With proper upkeep and a competent ASC, it should give a long, troublefree ownership experience for the years to come.
Pl post a lot of interior and exterior pictures.
Compared to the Laura, how do you find the interior space at the front and the rear seats? Can this seat 3 persons comfortably at the rear?
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Old 3rd April 2011, 12:06   #6
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Default Re: 320d CE Initial Ownership Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by n.devdath View Post
Congrats on your huge upgrade from your Laura....
Pl post a lot of interior and exterior pictures.
Compared to the Laura, how do you find the interior space at the front and the rear seats? Can this seat 3 persons comfortably at the rear?
Thank you. I wont quite call it an upgrade.. I am keeping the TSI as I love that petrol engine too much.
The rear seat is really meant for 2 - much like the Skoda Laura, the raear AC went and the transmission tunnel in the BMW make it very uncomfortable for the center passenger.
Will upload some of the pictures later.
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Old 4th April 2011, 02:41   #7
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Default Re: 320d CE Initial Ownership Experience

Congrats Ravi. Breif but well put together first impressions. I personally feel 3 series looks the best deep blue shade. Looking forward to an update. Drive safe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravich View Post
I know 320d is old hat in TBHP but I guess fresh perspective from new owners (especially ex petrol engine fanatics ) may be of interest to prospective buyers.
Edit: It doesnt matter if there are a lot of beemers around. I am sure just the three letters are enough to get most of the bhpians excited. Post pics asap.
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Old 4th April 2011, 17:40   #8
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Default Re: 320d CE Initial Ownership Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravich View Post
Thank you. I wont quite call it an upgrade.. I am keeping the TSI as I love that petrol engine too much.
The rear seat is really meant for 2 - much like the Skoda Laura, the raear AC went and the transmission tunnel in the BMW make it very uncomfortable for the center passenger.
Will upload some of the pictures later.
Congrats Ravich! Awaiting for pics!
Also, let me know your experince on your upgrade on the following points:
1. Steering feedback: I have heard that 320d comes with EPS these days.
2. Acceleration: Do you find it worth spending significantly more money over Tsi?
3. Refinement: Is it as good as Tsi? Especially, 'in cabin' noise?
4. Finally, do you feel that additional money spend for 320d over Tsi is worth the additional driving pleasure you get from RWD?

Your feedback will be valuable as i am considering a similar kind of upgrade over my octy vRS. Thnx.
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Old 4th April 2011, 19:39   #9
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Default Re: BMW 320d and Skoda Laura TSI - A petrolhead's initial comparison

Neat thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravich View Post
The steering, suspension and the grip of the 320d make mincemeat of the Laura TSI.
That's because the TSI got a super-soft suspension for India; get performance dampers, springs & tyres and enjoy the magic. To me, a souped up Laura TSI will be a lot more fun to drive than the 320d; primary reasons = Manual gearbox, and the ability to keep revving after 5,000 rpms. Modern-day diesels have gotten really quick, and the torque is mindblowing, yet the simple joy (pun intended ) of a manual + high-revving petrol is irreplaceable. The BMW has a RWD advantage, but recently lost the hydraulic steering.

You got a great garage now, Ravich. How about a picture of the beauties next to each other?
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Old 4th April 2011, 22:05   #10
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Default Re: BMW 320d and Skoda Laura TSI - A petrolhead's initial comparison

yes yes, pics please!!! Congrats btw!

On a side note i dont think idrive can be retrofitted, atleast thats what the dealer told me.
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Old 4th April 2011, 22:38   #11
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Default Re: BMW 320d and Skoda Laura TSI - A petrolhead's initial comparison

One thread to which I am subscribing. I would be following this thread up & close and would love to see updates as and when they happen.

One nice garage and yes if possible, please shoot outside, on the open road in the morning.

Cheers and congratulations!
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Old 5th April 2011, 01:47   #12
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Default Re: BMW 320d and Skoda Laura TSI - A petrolhead's initial comparison

Congrats Ravich! Enjoyed reading your TSI ownership thread. Happy motoring with the bimmer.

TSI has one advantage: manual transmission BMW should start shipping 3 series CE with MT option - I'm assuming driving enthusiasts are the primary buyers of 3 CE.

Btw, you beat me to posting this thread!! Hopefully my thread will provide a different perspective.
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Old 5th April 2011, 15:44   #13
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Default Re: BMW 320d and Skoda Laura TSI - A petrolhead's initial comparison

Wow, thats one garage to envy. One petrol beuty and one legendary car that sure makes heads turn. Comparison was simply great too.

Now, to make matters even better in our perspective, how about pics of both the beauties next to each other?
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Old 5th April 2011, 17:00   #14
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Default Re: BMW 320d and Skoda Laura TSI - A petrolhead's initial comparison

Ravich, I guess we are all awaiting an update. The Laura TSI, rides on 15" rims vs the 16" rims on the diesel top spec variants. A true comparo needs the TSI to go to the 16" rims with wider sporty tyres. This by itself impacts the feel, grip and ride to a very large extent and would actually get this quite close to the BMW. Add performance suspension components and for less than 1L more you will be really narrowing the gap either way.
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Old 5th April 2011, 18:05   #15
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Default Re: BMW 320d and Skoda Laura TSI - A petrolhead's initial comparison

I drive a Laura DSG and i drove a BMW 320d CE recently. The 3 without any doubts is a better handler but i'd say it would be entirely unfair to compare it directly as the BMW has far superior ultra low profile super stiff run flats and Laura on the hand runs on 15"rubber with poor 195 section Goodyears. Laura has more absorbent ride though.

Overall i'd say 3 is more involving to drive with RWD contributing big time but at the expense of stiff ride(Though composed unlike the X1 which is lot worse). The engine in 3 feels more willing to revv but both engines have very wide powerband. Performance is not much different, the 6 speed AT is not as good as the DSG but does the job nicely.
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