Deluxe Duel – Volkswagen Jetta vs Skoda Laura
Posted on: Jun 23, 2009 - 9:44pm IST
We have tried and answered questions that magazines and blogs could not have even thought of. Though readers might term this comparison useless and pointless, for someone really confused as to which car is better, that one answer, that one defining moment might be reached while reading this review.
Parking Space! Oh no! Why didn’t we think of that?
Ritesh’s Mumbai condo garage has space only for two cars. While his very own Honda Civic occupies half of the garage space, the other half is the prize for the Jetta or the Laura to win!
We were granted cars by the respective manufacturers, but left with space for only one car. So we devised a simple contest- only the car worthy to occupy the parking space stays.
Since most of the D-segment cars end up being chauffeur driven, and we had only one day before one of these cars went back to the manufacturer, we restricted our comparison to the following parameters – Looks, Practicality, Functionality, Comfort and Quality.
The Czech Skoda Laura and the VW Jetta may have Volkswagen as the parent, but surprisingly, these siblings don’t share many common traits.
The Laura might have enjoyed stupendous success in the past, but the Jetta has arrived to teach the Skoda some German automobile basics, or is it the other way round?
VW Jetta Diesel Image Slideshow
If you cannot see the slideshow above, go to the VW Jetta Image Gallery directly.
Skoda Laura TSI Image Gallery
If you cannot see the slideshow above, go to the Skoda Laura Image Gallery directly.
Marked in red is the more convincing feedback. Images above answer are of that car.
A) Ingress and Egress- as you open those huge doors (J – Jetta, L- Laura)
1) Is it easy to open the door
J- Yes the doors of the Jetta are nice and smooth more German-like ie heavy and have a nice thud to it
L- The doors feel lighter than the Jetta’s easier to operate.
2) Do the doors open wide, close it and what kind of noise do they make?
J- doors open nice and wide, no noises here except the Typical Thud.
L – Lighter than the Jettas, the 3-stage door hinge is to our liking, thud present but lesser than the Jettas.
3) Are the seats at the right height?
J – Perfect height with adjustable settings for the height, so the next time things are easier
L – Yes the height is perfect with ideal settings present like the Jetta’s. No differences here
4) When you get in, does the steering come in the way?
J – Getting in is very easy in this German car, no the steering wheel remains out of the way.
L – Seat position near identical to the Jetta’s, the difference being the steering is lifted from the Skoda Superb, dosen’t obstruct the entry.
5) Is the doorway provide enough entry-exit area ?
J – Yes wide enough, large doors here and opening angle near 90 degrees
L – Similar doors here too and the angle same to.
6) Is it easy to close the door once you sit in?
J – Needs only a slight pull as the door is heavy but nice feel while closing doors
L – Same as the Jettas but slight more easier to close since it is lighter
8) can you hear anything once you close the door? is the cabin insulated from its surroundings?
J- Almost silent, but you can hear an engine operating at a distance. Considering that this is a 2.0-liter diesel, the NHV levels are very good here.
L- Can hear nothing. Cabin is totally soundproof. Had to check the tachometer to see if the car was on many occasions.
B) Driver’s seat
1) Does it feel comfortable when you first sit on it? Initial impressions?
J- You are surrounded by an array of lights and a high quality dashboard, nice and grip-generous steering wheel, large glass area and nice seat height.
L- We got the base TSI (petrol) version, nothing really differentiates the Jetta and the Laura in terms of comfort, visibility and seat height.
Now wear your seat belts and answer these questions –
2) The back rest- is it cushioning enough?
J- Very cushioning. You get electrically controlled lumbar support settings, height and distance from steering are also electrically operated here.
L- Seat here is fabric and have manual adjusters. The overall seat comfort is almost the same.
3) head rest – is it comfortable or does it poke you head? is it easily adjustable
J- Yup, they feel nice
L – Slightly pokey. You know what I mean.
Adjust seats to your best possible position and answer these questions
1) how is the overall visibility?
J- Good visibility. The front windshield is wide and nicely angled to give you an obstruction free view.
L- Slightly less in terms of visibility compared to the Jetta, but in no bad. It gives you a very good view of the road ahead.
2) your neck and shoulder- how do they feel? can you move about in the seat nicely even when turning back during reversing?
J- The seats are spongy and it is easy to turn around.
L- the fabric seats on the Laura are soft, and is easier to make sudden turns and movements. The Laura is more comfortable to me while turning back.
8) seat belts- adjustable for height?
J- adjustable for height
L- adjustable for height
C) Steering –
1) Grip the steering and answer whether it is of the right size
J- Nice feeling of firmness. The wheel is larger compared to the Japanese cars.
L- Same steering wheel as the new Superb. The steering wheel size and thickness combination works better here.
2) does it have any controls on it? what are they?
J- Volume + -, MID controls, Phone , Audio controls
L – NONE just the basic horn on the centre.
3) is it adjustable for height? adjustable for reach? which one is better?
J – Yes can be adjusted with the lock knob below
L- same as the Jettas the difference being that the reach setting is much more on this one.
5) is the horn in the right position? do you have to move your hands to apply the horn?
J – Slight out of position have to press the centre or search for it when you are turning
L – Perfect position even while turning the streeing
6) can you hear the horn inside the car? is it irritating?
J- Yes you can, but not irritating, which is good, so that u know when u honk
L – Can hear a bit of it so you know you are making some noise to that deaf cyclist in the front.
7) On a short drive, how does it feel to steer? is the steering tight? feedback? soft, hard?
J – Feedback is just perfect. Not too hard, not to soft, you feel nice and in control at all times
L- Feedback is lesser here. It felt softer and more easier to steer. It really dependents on your liking, we prefer the Jetta’s steering.
D) Steering column controls
With the hands on the steering, answer these questions
1) Indicator knob, wiper knob – easy to put on? sound? what feel when you switch it on? does it feel like its going to break?
J- Perfect Sturdy typically German build quality, position being on the left for indicators (European style)
L- No noticeable difference. The position being on the left here too (European style)
2) is it easy to put on the headlight? describe the knob
J- The lights switch is of rotary type with Automatic light intensity setting.
L – Same as the Jetta but no Auto setting here.
4) the dash readouts- is it easy to read the rpm/speed dials regardless of the position the steering?
J – At some steering positions, you need to look for the speedo on the Laura
L- Regardless of steering position, you are able to read the values.
5) what info does the dash have other than the rpm and speed?
J- RPM Speedo, Fuel, engine Temp, Main MID (Multi Information Display) which has diff reading like diesel left in the tank, trip meters, radio stations, time, outside temp, digital speedo etc.
L – Same as Jetta but the MID has less information
6) rear view mirrors are adjusted by electronics? is it big enough?
J- Power mirrors and good enuff with auto/pwr folding options here too
L – Same as Jetta slightly smaller and no power auto folding option on this basic variant.
E) Materials, fit and finish-
1) touch the dashboard, feel the quality, does it feel nice and smooth?
J- Nice and grainy can be pressed with tip of fingers, a soft feel. Feel of best quality.
L- Same as Jetta. Faux Carbon fibre strips running on the dash and door panels won our hearts.
The other materials like on the A-Pillars, roof and other places on the cabin felt almost exactly the same. The materials are very similar and humans like us can’t tell them apart.
F) Central console
1) what do you see on the central console?
J- Auto Gear changer panel, A.C settings, 2-zone temp setting for driver and passenger and the stereo sitting nicely and very reachable.
L- Manual gear changer (6speed), chrome cap to the lever is a nice touch, A.C and Stereo above is a little out of reach. A normal Air conditioner here, above which is the single CD player.
2) are the knobs and dials far away from you? while driving would it be distracting to change channels or operate them?
J- Very much in reach they don’t distract in anyway
L- Nicely put in just like on the Superb. Don’t interfere in any way.
G) Audio system
1) Is the Audio system cool? I mean, is the sound system a good one?
J- Nice very clear and very audible with 6 CD Changer FM AM radio with 6 memory settings and Graphic EQ which sends us into a frenzy of sorts.
L- Same system used as the Jetta only diff being it has no changer, just a single disc player here.
2) turn the music on, go to the back seat and listen to the song. How is it back there?
No difference. Maybe my dog with better sound reception could detect a difference?
3) Turn on the radio. how is the signal reception?
Same setup on both cars and at any speed, the sound quality is crystal clear.
1) Keep the blower in full blast and notice the sound
J- Yup but not annoying at all.
L- not annoying but could have been better.
2) Does the cabin cool up to the required temperature? How long does it take before you start to feel cold?
J- Awesome cooling near instant even in the hot 40deg temp.
L- Took time to cool, performance is good but no where near the Jetta’s HVAC
(J) Rear seat
1) what are the comforts offered to the rear seat passenger?
J- Centre armrest, rear A.C, Arm rest panel has a neat holder in it. A.C blower under the front seats as well for rear passengers Cabin light but no reading light
L- Exactly the same setup
3) The hand grab above the door, is it of the right size?
J – Nice and big, feels good to grip
L- Similar to the Jetta’s
4) the door opener knob, is it reachable and feels good when you operate it?
J- Heavy feel to it
L- Feels softer. Easier on your fingers.
7) The tunnel that passes through the center of the cabin – your thoughts.
Both the cars have the hump which is annoying. Why don’t the companies work on getting rid of them at least in this segment. Put three passengers at the back and the middle one is whining all along.
(K) cup holders, glove box, storage compartments, under seat storage
1) list out where there is are storage spaces
J- many here in the centre dash under the A.C buttons and between the driver and the passenger a big box to keep stuff, door pockets can take in 3 big water bottles. Nice storage box under driver and passenger seats.
L- Same here with an extra box in the dash. Storage under the driver/passenger seat box is missing.
2) is the glove box big?
J- Real big with neat section to slide in the car’s manual and the box is cooled to keep drinks and perishable food items.
L- The Jetta’s glove box is comparitively smaller without any of those extras.
3) the door pockets, how good are they?
J- Three big bottles of water can be stored. You could even put a spare tire in there.
L- Not that big. Nothing really consideable to write about
(L) Car’s boot
1) opening the boot, how could it be done? (list out all possible ways)
J- With remote, awesome the dicky opens fully with the remote key. It has gas charged shocks for easier opening and closing.
L- Much bigger boot but the lid is very heavy since the glass opens with it (remember this is a hatchback)
2) does it open wide? how wide is the entry area?
L- Wins this segment hands down since it has the largest loading and entry area in its class, probably in a class higher as well.
1) How big are the pedals?
J- Auto transmission here so two huge pedals.
L- Smaller ones but placed at an adequate distance from each other.
2) is the clutch soft? how is the spring action of the clutch?
J- Clutch Absent. Duh!
L- Ideally suited for crowded roads and highways.
1) How is it shifting into 1st gear? is it easy to shift?
J- Auto shifters so gears shift automatically but they shift without any jerks. Magical operation. Seems like as though the car is driven in the same gear.
L- In 1st gear, the car goes till 60kmph. Shifting is great, shifting a bit late is fun.
2) how is it to hold the gear knob?
J- Nice chunky changer changer. Display of the gear changw seen on the MID.
L- Nice with chrome topping (6speed)
3) as you drive through the gears, what is your observation of the engine?
J- Same as the Laura Diesel engine as VW family, noiseless, very responsive can be revved hard using the paddle shifters.
L- TSI same as the Superb here, turbo charged petrol with noiseless running as explained previously.
4) explain the power band. At which rpm and above, the engine starts to feel at home?
J- Power management by the Auto Tranny is terrific from the start, though the real fun begins after the car crosses 40kmph.
L- You cross the 2.5k RPM and hell breaks loose, the Laura transforms isn’t a car anymore.
5) Brakes, how are they? how efficient are they?
J – All discs very powerful. Improper usage results in miserable jerks.
L- Same all disc setup, the brakes on the Laura feel exactly the same as the Jetta.
There isn’t a point in summing up this review. We have two solid performers, one diesel and another petrol. We did not find any major differences between the two in areas where they can be compared, where one car scored the other car didn’t and vice versa. It is up to you to go through these questions and answers, find out which would suit you better.
We’ll be getting the diesel Skoda Laura shortly which is when we could compare the engine and gearbox of both the cars in detail. We’ll have the diesel duel then, so stay tuned.