The Skoda Laura has been, till date, seating comfortably at the top of the luxury diesel-car segment. It has dominated because of lack of quality competition as well as its pricing and features which combines to make it a good enough investment for buyers.
The scenario might be changing now with the entry of the Chevrolet Cruze, which has great pricing even for its all-features loaded variant.
If we throw the latest Volkswagen Jetta into this mix, albeit with its latest price tag, then we have created an interesting trio that will compete to reach the top of this segment.
The Interiors and Exteriors:
These are parameters that the Chevrolet Cruze dominates. This latest car has eye-catching designs, both in the interiors and exteriors. The external features are dominated by a big front grille, roof line similar to the coupe. It has angular headlamps as well as LED lamps at the rear; each individually as well as collectively capable of having a dominating presence. Step inside to find a wonderfully designed dashboard, a steering wheel with multi-functionalities, cruise control, climate control and the likes. But the feature that steals the show is its keyless entry as well as start. Though the cabin design cannot be deemed to be the best, the overall convenience it provided is quite adequate.
The Jetta on the other hand has quality plastics, absent in the Chevy. However, the high-end equipments that the Chevy has firmly hold its top billing.
The Skoda Laura has a spacious and comfortable cabin with excellent room space, particularly at the front. The space adequacy gets extended to the rear of the vehicle as well.
The Skoda rules here with excellent body control and a supportive steering making driving it the easiest among the three vehicles. According to many, driving this vehicle is fun.
The Jetta can be deemed as the car that handles city roads the best due to its lighter steering helping in better control than the Laura at slower speeds. However, in overall experience, the Laura works the best.
The Chevy work well at slower speeds but at higher speed the steering feels a bit vague.
The Power Equation:
On the engine front, the Chevrolet Cruze is in a class of its own. The 2L turbocharged diesel engine generates peak power of 150Bhp, beating the other two cars hands down by almost 50Bhp. The Jetta and the Laura cannot match up to its pace of acceleration. Also by using 5-speed manual transmission, the Chevy beats Jetta in the drivability aspect. It is also the only car that can consistently breach the 200kmph mark, whereas the remaining two can puff up to 180kmph maximum. This huge power, however, has a negative impact when it comes to overall driving aspects and particularly driving in city roads. This is where the Skoda Laura scores again as it can be handled better on all kind of roads.
Though having a host of comfort and dynamic features, the Chevrolet Cruze has been priced quite superbly. A very good warranty offer accompanies it as well. But the Laura beats it thanks to it being better in a significant number of parameters, of which pricing also happens to be one.
The Cruze seems a tempting car given its host of features and superb engine coupled with riding comfort. However, it loses out in build quality to both the Jetta and the Laura. Though the Cruze is the fastest car among the three, it is also the lowest as far as fuel efficiency is concerned. The Laura, though considerably lesser powerful, is a better drive and well as the most fuel efficient. The Volkswagen Jetta scores high on safety and comfort aspect. But, if all the aspects are combined and a decision has to be taken, it seems that the reign of the Skoda Laura is going to continue, till another better model comes in the market.