Skoda Laura vs Volkswagen Jetta
The Skoda Laura and the refreshed Volkswagen Jetta may look different visually but peel off the exterior skin and you will see that they have a lot in common. Now, that may seem odd to the uninitiated but the fact is both the cars come from the same stable. Skoda is part of the Volkswagen group and as they belong to the same segment there is quite a bit of cannibalism of parts.
The difference is how the two cars are positioned in the Indian market. Not far back, Skoda was perceived as a luxury brand and this was before Volkswagen made it here. Now, when Volkswagen is firmly in command, vehicles carrying the famed VW badge will be more upmarket and Skoda, like in Europe, will play the value-for-money card.
How hard Volkswagen tries to differentiate its products from that of sister concern Skoda, the fact is both Laura and Jetta are seriously competitive cars and to pick out a clear winner is quite tough. But winner we have to pick, so read on to find out which car wins this slug-fest.
Features Comparison Between Skoda Laura & Volkswagen Jetta
Both the Jetta and Laura share the same 2.0-liter, 140bhp diesel engine, both are built like a tank and have the same suspension. Where they differ is in the equipment level and the price. The models tested here are the Volkswagen Jetta Highline A/T and the Skoda Laura Elegance A/T.
The earlier Jetta looked like a Golf with a boot added, but the latest model is all new grounds up and looks very similar — which is a drawback — to the Vento which is a good Rs 6-7 lakh cheaper.
This is the only criticism of the design which otherwise is very handsome with well-proportioned and uncluttered looks. It might appear a little bland but the more you stay with the vehicle the more it will grow on you. On the other hand, the Laura has a distinctive design which it doesn’t share with any other model and though it may be familiar, it still is attractive with the trademark Skoda grille and distinctive headlamps.
Where the Jetta scores over the Laura is the wheelbase — it is longer by 5.5cm. This means more legroom, especially for the passengers at the back. It is wider and longer than the Laura. Despite the larger dimensions, the Jetta is lighter by 5kgs owing to newer construction techniques and lighter material used and this can be gauged when you shut the doors of both the cars — the sound is more tinny in the Jetta.
The Laura might be slightly smaller than the Jetta, but in almost everything else it mirrors its cousin. The engine in both the cars is mounted transversely, driving the front wheels; MacPherson suspension is used in the front while at the rear a muti-link arrangement does duty; brakes are discs all around in both the cars and even the tyres and wheels are the same: 205/55 R16.
The main and crucial difference is that the Jetta is a proper saloon, the Laura is a semi-hatchback. Having said this, the boot space is more in the Laura and using it is also easier.
The Jetta and the Laura have rich, top quality interiors and the difference between the two cars is in the details. The Jetta has got a beefy steering wheel which is a pleasure to hold. The seats have good side support and the gear lever, touch screen sound system and steering-wheel mounted controls have been borrowed form the higher priced and a segment higher Volkswagen Passat.
If there is a fault with the interiors of the Jetta it is the design of the dashboard, which like the exterior look, is a little conservative. There are other minor glitches like the air conditioner control unit borrowed from the Polo hatchback and the glovebox which sees the omission of the felt lining and the replacement of the bootlid struts with a hinge. However, the overall quality of the interiors is fantastic.
The dashboard of the Laura, which has a fair sprinkling of parts from other Skoda vehicles, holds more appeal than that of the Jetta. The Laura Elegance may not have a touch-screen music system but it comes with a proper HVAC unit. What also is missing from the Laura is the powered seat for the driver, which is standard on the Jetta Highline. There is miniscule difference between the materials used in the cabins of both car, with that of the Jetta having a very slight edge.
The driver sits slightly lower in the Jetta and this is because of the dashboard being set higher while on the Laura the lower dashboard makes visibility out of the cabin better and it is more easier to maneuver the car in rush hour traffic.
At the back, the Jetta scores over the Laura in the crucial parameters of leg and head room and more under thigh support. In comparison, passengers sit lower in the Laura and the seats have lesser thigh support.
Engine & Performance
With the identical 1968cc engines pumping out identical power and torque (140bhp, 32.6kgm) and having the same 6-speed dual-clutch auto gearboxes, the Laura is the quicker of the two and this is because the transmission reacts faster than that on the Jetta’s. Volkswagen have changed the software for the transmission so it doesn’t get overwhelmed by the ample torque. So, when you press the accelerator, there is a millisecond delay before the gearbox responds but this can be addressed if you switch to manual shifting using steering-column mounted paddles. However, as the Laura doesn’t have a dim-witted ‘box, it doesn’t need the paddle shifts and moreover they aren’t even present on the Laura.
Ride, Handling & Fuel Efficiency
The ride of the Jetta is better here. It tackles bumps and bad roads better than the Laura and the faster it goes the better and composed the ride gets.
The Laura also has very good high speed dynamics but it’s suspension feels more stiffer than the Jetta’s when motoring around the city. For hard driving, you have to give it to Laura. It is faster owing to its shorter wheelbase and also changes direction faster. However, the cabin of the Jetta is more insulated from the road noise than the Laura.
The Jetta, being lighter, just manages to pip Laura in fuel efficiency stakes. In city driving, Jetta delivers 11.8 kpl compared to 11.6 for the Laura while on the highway the figure was 16.8kpl for the Jetta and 16.5kpl for the Laura.
Sum & Price
The Skoda is more thrilling to drive and has better-looking interiors but the Jetta is overall the better car thanks to having better interior quality, more equipment, more comfortable rear seats, better ride and a quieter cabin.
The price of the Volkswagen Highline A/T is Rs 17.86 lakh while the Skoda Laura Elegance A/T is available for 16.43 lakh.