Day 3: Does this Skoda deserve the vRS badge?
What powers the Laura vRS?
If you were expecting some nuclear power station under the bonnet, you will be disappointed. The Laura vRS is powered by the same 1.8L, turbocharged petrol motor that powers the normal Laura TSi. Now, you must be thinking "Oh! Then I guess the output must have been boosted".
Eeks! I am afraid not
To put it is simple words, in terms of performance, the Laura vRS is no different from other variants. The 1.8L turbocharged unit produces 160 PS of maximum power at 6200 RPM and 250 Nm of torque between 1500–4500 RPM. So you are not pulling away any faster than a normal petrol Laura.
However, you will notice that the Laura has one of the smoothest power deliveries in its segment. The engine is so quiet and refined that sometimes it is hard to judge whether you should change the gear or not.
Speaking about the gear, the Laura vRS is has a 6-speed manual gear box. Sorry DSG/Paddleshift lovers, you have to settle for a VW Jetta. The 6th gear is not very usable in city driving condition however is very much useful when on the highways. The short-shifting gearbox has the perfect size gates so that you don't miss shift and it feels sporty too.
Being a turbocharged mill, there isn't much happening below 2K rpm. However, persevere a little bit more and you are in for a treat. The power delivery is linear and relentless making overtaking on highways a purely joyful experience.
So what's different in the Laura vRS?
In one word – Handling. Skoda India has firmed up the suspension and provided fatter tires for the vRS which has made a significant difference. The car is now more eager in the corners and, coupled with the 160 PS from the engine, even more eager out of them as well. Thanks to the stiffened suspension, there is no body-roll so taking left/right handers at high speed does not unsettle the Laura vRS at all.
There is no understeer thanks to the ASR (Skoda's traction management system) and disc brakes on all four wheels bite brilliantly with ample feedback from the pedals.
The Xenon headamps light up the road at night providing excellent visibility. They also have integrated cornering functionality. At low speeds, it will turn on the fog lamps but at high speed the projectors will move according to the steering.
The feedback from the steering wheel is very good and you exactly know what the wheels are doing when you turn the wheel.
What about safety?
With great power comes great responsibility. OK, my bad for being a bit cheesy.
Coming to the point, the Laura vRS has adequate safety gear such as:
What about the fuel economy?
Skoda India states that the Laura vRS will give you around 13 kmpl. On the very first day, the digital read out did show the magical figure but during the testing process I could only maximize to 11 kmpl. That's not bad for a 1.8 turbocharged petrol engine.
A few things that I didn't like:
Overall, the vRS may not have atomic power under the bonnet but definitely manages to put a huge grin on your face. However, a 2 lakh premium over a normal Laura TSi is a bit too steep especially when petrol prices are sky rocketing.
Then again, buying the Laura vRS will be a decision of your heart and not your brain. It is definitely a well sorted car for people who enjoy the occasional blast down the motorway. At the same time, immensely practical for a day-to-day runabout (fuel economy is questionable though).
Does it deserve the vRS badge? I can't really say considering I have never owned or driven another vRS before. But it definitely deserves a test drive