The Skoda Octavia and the Hyundai Elantra have been rivals in the executive sedan segment since they were launched. Both offered a premium feel at a slightly lower price point than more upmarket contenders. Skoda has recently brought its facelifted Octavia to India and we’ve pitted it against its traditional Korean rival to find out which sedan rules the roost.
PERFORMANCE AND REFINEMENT
The Octavia’s 1.8-litre turbo-petrol engine is one of the best around. It has excellent refinement and better performance. The strong 180hp/250Nm engine, mated to the fast and responsive seven-speed DSG gearbox, gives the Octavia explosive performance. Even a small dab on the accelerator gives you an instant acceleration, but there is some hesitation at low engine speeds. Refinement levels are good and no noise enters the cabin.
The Hyundai Elantra gets a 2.0-litre, non-turbo engine developing 152hp and 1,925Nm or torque, paired to a six-speed automatic gearbox. You don't feel the power deficit while driving as it has a surge of strong acceleration. The Octavia, however, is much stronger, faster and effortless. Refinement in the Elantra is excellent, but in Sport mode, the unit becomes too responsive and is, hence, quite unusable in the city.
RIDE AND HANDLING
At low speeds on bumps and over small potholes, you do feel a bit of movement in the Octavia. But as the speed rises, the suspension irons out any undulations. There is a bit more pitching and bobbing on this updated car. Handling is not exactly sportscar-like, but grip is very good and the balance is also excellent. The steering is responsive and well-weighted, and offers good feedback as well.
Driving at city speeds, the Elantra is more comfortable than the Octavia. Go faster though, and you'll notice some up and down movement. So, while the ride is good in isolation, it's not as planted or stable as the Octavia. The steering does offer good feel and feedback and this is one of the nicest Hyundais to drive, but it doesn't match up to the Skoda in terms of stability, handling and grip.
The light-coloured upholstery and plastics used across the Octavia’s cabin add to the overall feeling of quality. Materials, in fact, are as good as on a luxury car, with a premium finish to the buttons and switches, and the panoramic sunroof and huge colour screen further add to the luxe appeal of the car. Also, the new instrument cluster feels slick and modern while the mood lighting helps elevate the ambience as well.
The Elantra has an interior that seems inspired from European cars. While the black merged with silver accents looks good and is easy to live with, it lacks the plush feel of the Octavia. The buttons and switches, too, are well built and the construction of the interiors is robust. What ups the ante is that cabin insulation is impressive and the controls function with just a slick touch.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Space is generous in the Octavia. The front seats are large and they offer good support. This continues in the back as well, where you get ample legroom, headroom and good under-thigh support. The Octavia's highlight, however, is the wide opening hatch that is easy to access and quite humongous at almost 600 litres. Fold the rear seats and the space goes up to an estate-car-like 1,580 litres.
The front seats of the Elantra are broad and comfy and the cabin is nice and wide too. In the rear, however, passengers sit low in a knees-up position while the sloping roofline robs you of some headroom. What's not bad, however, is the legroom and shoulder room. You also get a big boot at 458 litres, but again, the Octavia's is much bigger and easier to access too.
The construction of the Hyundai Elantra's interiors is robust.
Skoda has updated the Octavia with a new 8.0-inch touchscreen display and feather-touch main menu buttons. The infotainment system is responsive and vibrant and you also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone connectivity. Another notable feature is the new auto parking system which parks the car on its own. Safety features include eight airbags, ABS, ESP and Isofix tethers.
Like most cars from Hyundai, the Elantra comes with a good list of features and equipment. You get cooled seats, a reverse camera with sensors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satnav, six airbags, ABS, ESP and Isofix tethering for child seats. Another interesting feature is the automatic boot opening which pops open the boot lid if you stand next to it with the key on your person.
Good quality materials on the Skoda Octavia.
Some of the areas in which the Skoda Octavia excels include a strong engine, good interior quality and great cabin space. However, its price tag is a bit high and Skoda’s poor reputation for aftersales services hampers its prospects. In conclusion, the Octavia might be expensive, but you get so much more car than the Elantra.
The Elantra, typical of a Hyundai car, is well-equipped and offers brilliant low speed ride. The executive sedan does fall short in terms of rear seat comfort and a lacklustre driving experience. While the Elantra is a decent package, it is second best in almost every area when compared to the Octavia.
|Skoda Octavia technical specifications|
|Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSI Style Plus|
|Power||180hp at 5100-6200rpm|
|Torque||250Nm at 1250-5000rpm|
|Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)||Rs 20.61 lakh|
|Hyundai Elantra technical specifications|
|Hyundai Elantra 2.0 VTVT SX(O)|
|Power||152hp at 6200rpm|
|Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)||Rs 17.36 lakh|