The Laura was always an easy choice when it came to buying a diesel luxury saloon. But, some prospective buyers didn't appreciate the noisy Pumpe Düse diesel engine. That, coupled with the fact that 13 major cities shifted to BS IV emission norms, meant that Skoda had to put a new engine into the Laura.

In comes the same common-rail engine that was used in the Volkswagen Passat. The 1968cc motor makes a healthy 140bhp. The four-cylinder unit also delivers 32kgm of torque (pulling power). The motor is mated to a six-speed twin-clutch gearbox. The DSG automatic gearbox works aggressively and responses to the inputs from the driver are pretty quick, ensuring you are rarely in the wrong gear.

In terms of refinement, the new common-rail unit is far quieter and smoother than the gruff and clattery Pumpe Düse motor. Power delivery is much more linear and smooth, which makes it easy to drive in the city. The throttle response is better as well. The advantage with the new engine is that it isn't lazy at lower speeds, as was the case in the earlier version. It will reach the 100kph mark in 9.72 seconds, faster by 1.35 seconds compared to the earlier Laura. Keep the motor in the right power band, and it will deliver just what you want — 20-80kmph in 6.27sec and 40-100kmph in 7.93sec.

The new one is better in terms of fuel economy too. The Laura delivers 10.1 kmpl in the city and 16.2 kmpl on the highway.

However, some grouses remain. The stiff suspension set-up means that the Laura's ride is on the firm side at slow speeds. But things improve as speeds rise — it rides with poise and absorbs most bumps with ease with only a few audible irregularities filtering into the cabin. Its electro-mechanical steering is light at city speeds and weights up nicely as speeds rise, providing enough feedback to the driver.

On the design front, the exterior and interiors continue to remain the same. The car still retains its tough build and good-quality interiors. The cabin is spacious and the rear seats provide generous space as well.

Priced at Rs. 16.64 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai), the Laura comes loaded with equipment, and is the easiest choice to make in this segment.