With petrol-powered automatic-gearbox cars gaining popularity here in India, Skoda has launched the Laura TSI with a DSG transmission option. At present, the TSI is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox, and you can only have a DSG in the Laura if you choose the 2.0 TDI engine.
The same engine and gearbox combination -1.8-litre TSI and seven-speed DSG - currently does duty in the Skoda Superb. As with the bigger Skoda, the Audi-sourced EA888 direct-injection, turbo-petrol motor is tuned to make 158bhp and 25.5kgm in the Laura. And while early-model petrol automatic Superbs were reported to have some gearbox issues, Skoda says it has been on top of the problem and has since rectified it.
The one area where traditional torque-converter automatic gearboxes are weak is fuel efficiency, but the seven-speed DSG will give the Laura a big advantage. Torque converters may boost low-end torque, but this saps energy from the engine, making it run less efficiently and burning more fuel in the process. A DSG is essentially a manual without a clutch pedal that uses two sets of gears and two clutches functioning in tandem. This means it doesn't sap excess power and the shifts are instantaneous. In addition, the engine is efficient because it uses a turbocharger and direct injection. The Superb auto weighs around 1,500kg and returns 8.3kpl in the city and 12.5kpl on the highway, so expect the lighter Laura to better those figures. The Laura TSI DSG is priced at ₹15.65 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
This is likely to be the last major update Skoda gives the Laura before it is replaced by the all-new Octavia later this year.