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Skoda Laura


No longer can you sit and mock Skoda for choosing a rather debatable name. Last year, Skoda sold anywhere between 4,500 and 5,000 Lauras.That is an average of nearly 400 units a month! Now compare that with the Honda Accord (approx 200 units a month) or Hyundai Sonata Embera (50 units a month) and you realise that you can’t call Skoda names anymore!

Armed with such healthy numbers and a push towards 17,000 units for the current calendar year, Skoda have launched the Skoda Laura Elegance. Essentially slightly stripped down (price and kitwise), it still retains the L&K’s character. Featuring the five-speed manual as on the L&K manual, Skoda has done away with the sunroof, replaced xenon headlamps with projector units, opted for manual settings for the seats, saved a few cows and fitted a new seven-spoke design alloy. Class differentiating features like a 6-CD music system, parking sensors, cruise control, ABS and airbags still continue.The 1900cc Pumpe-Deuse engine is torquey and the gearbox slick. Twist the key and there is a distinct diesel clatter. Shift through the gate and the car quickly gains pace. Skoda figures claim that it is 0.4 seconds faster than the DSG to 100 kph and has a higher top speed of 192 kph, which is always good news. The ride quality is a little firm but nothing to get nervous about. Handling is typically Skoda, with class leading grip and balance for the taking.

On the inside too, you don’t feel shortchanged in comparison with the L&K, yet on our test car, there were spots where the finish could have been better, specially edges around the glovebox. Overall build quality is again typically Skoda, with solidity emanating from every square inch. The MP3 music system with eight speakers is more than adequate, while the seat fabric feels plush. Interior space is good for average-height Indians, while the six-foot plus types might find themselves in a spot of bother.But the ones who would really bother would be the competition. At Rs 14.32 lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai, it is nearly Rs 70,000 cheaper than the Embera CRDi. Considering the kit and overall value, the Laura does stand tall. Time, maybe, to clamour for India’s first diesel supersaloon, the Laura vRS.