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Hyundai Elantra A/T vs Skoda Octavia A/T vs Toyota Corolla A/T

Introduction

At a time when the D-segment isn’t at an all-time high, this comparison is sure to raise a few eyebrows. Nevertheless, we need to understand that these sedans still find a place amongst users. Plus, the upgrades carried out on the Toyota Corolla Altis and the Skoda Octavia earlier this year gave us all the more reason to carry out this test. 

The Hyundai Elantra has been around for more than a year. But while the updated Octavia and the Corolla Altis remain mechanically unchanged, the former gets a wider track, a redesigned nose and additional cabin features. The Corolla Altis, on the other hand, gets cosmetic tweaks which makes its nose look sleeker and it also benefits from some mild cabin upgrades. Let’s dig deeper to find a winner here.

Head turners?

Refreshed cars first. The new Octavia looks similar to the older car in profile, and it all boils down to the lack of sheet-metal changes, other than the new alloys of course. However, the most striking bit here is the new split-headlamp cluster that brings about mixed impressions. Although I found it a bit odd, the design tends to grow on you with time. Additionally, the grille is now finished in glossy black and the sleeker fog lamps are now tucked away at the corners. At the rear, the tail lamps have now been given the LED treatment. Plus, a prominent crease between the bumper reflectors make the car look wider too. There’s no denying that the Skoda’s stance is the most pleasing among the three, thanks to its proportionate and conservative styling.

Second-up, the new Corolla Altis now comes with a pair of razor-sharp LED headlamps with LED DRLs, and a compact grille. The front bumper has more prominent slats now that run across the width of the bumper. These changes make it look sportier than the outgoing model. But again, in profile, there’s very little to differentiate it from the old car other than the new 16-inch alloy wheels. And it’s the same story with the rear end too. The existing tail lamps get an LED treatment along with a revised chrome strip on the boot lip. 

Our third contestant, the Hyundai Elantra, has a conspicuous front end which sees those sharp headlamps end at that chrome tipped hexagonal grille. Those air slats above the fog lamps reportedly direct air into the wheel wells to minimize air twisting around the wheel section, which enhances fuel efficiency. At the rear, a set of long LED tail lights light up with a snazzy multi-dimensional look. On the whole, the attractive design of the Elantra can be attributed to the futuristic sporty design cues and creases.

Inside the cabin

The Elantra features a sporty all-black cabin, unlike the other two cars which sport a more elegant black-beige cabin. While visibility from the driver’s seat is good, the front seats are most comfortable in this car thanks to them being large and well-cushioned. These seats have a longer backrest and a larger seat base that offers generous thigh support for a relaxing drive.

That said, the Octavia’s front seats aren’t bad either and are definitely more supportive than the rather flat ones in the Corolla. It also goes without saying that the Skoda’s cabin feels airier in this company thanks to the compact dash design and the extensive use of beige trim. You will also notice the larger infotainment screen and the revised instrument cluster in the new Octavia. What also works in Skoda’s favour is that it excels when it comes to finish and quality of materials.

The Corolla, on the other hand, looks strikingly similar to the outgoing one until you notice the mildly revised dash that accommodates redesigned air-con controls and new circular air-vents. However, the protruding and upright dashboard with minimal use of beige trim, makes the front-end of this cabin feel markedly less airy than its rivals.

At the rear, though, it’s a totally different picture. The Corolla’s rear seats are most comfortable thanks to the bench being large with ample knee room, generous thigh support and lots of headroom. Although the Octavia’s rear seat scores well in comfort too, it just can’t match the Corolla’s headroom and superior thigh support.

What sadly works against the Elantra here, despite having a reasonably roomy seat and adequate legroom, is the slanting roof-line which shaves off some of the headroom. This, coupled with the black interiors and slim windows makes the cabin feel much less airy in this company. Let’s move on to the boot now. As always, the Octavia’s 590-litres boot out-‘spaced’ the 460-litres and 470-litres that the Elantra and the Corolla have on offer respectively. The icing on the cake here is that with the rear seats folded, the Octavia’s boot swells to a humongous 1580-litres.

Feature rich?

While both the Elantra and the Octavia get an 8-inch touchscreen system, the Corolla makes do with a seven-inch system, all of which offer smartphone connectivity. All cars features such as rain sensing wipers, electric driver’s seat, push-button start, steering mounted controls and park assist with rear camera. However, the Octavia pushes the envelope further by offering a self-parking feature, while the Elantra has those brilliant cooled front seats. That said, the Toyota Corolla did miss out on some obvious features like the electric sunroof and the rear air-con vents, both of which are available in the Hyundai and the Skoda.

Easy going on the road?

The whole idea behind using a petrol automatic is to take advantage of the refinement that comes with a petrol mill, besides the ease of driving an automatic in city traffic. Mechanically, these cars remain unchanged. So, while the Corolla continues to use a naturally aspirated 138bhp 1.8-litre motor that works with a CVT gearbox, the Elantra uses the same 150bhp 2-litre, naturally aspirated engine that’s paired with a six-speed torque converter. The Octavia’s 177bhp 1.8-litre motor features a turbocharger and a seven-speed DSG transmission.

While driving in the city, we felt that the Toyota Corolla did the best job of offering a smooth drive. The power delivery from its 1.8-litre power-plant is surprisingly linear, and the CVT gearbox does a good job of delivering strong traction with no flat spots. However, once you leave the city limits and get to higher speeds, this motor tends to get loud and one tends to wish that it had more grunt too.

When it comes to the Elantra, its motor is a smooth and free-revving unit. What catches your attention is the great sound insulation. But there’s no running away from the slightly weak response at lower revs. However, the torque converter does a good job of masking this, and helps it make good progress once past 2000rpm. There’s adequate grunt at higher speeds too, but the engine can get noisy post 4000rpm.

This brings us to the Skoda Octavia. The slight hesitation (done to save the gearbox) at slow speeds is the only chink in its armour. That aside, this motor is the sprightliest of the lot, and is extremely eager to respond to throttle inputs. The DSG is always ready with quick shifts, and be it anywhere in the range, the strong power delivery is such that it brings a smile to your face, instantly.

Let’s look at the VBox stats now. While Skoda completed the 0-100kmph run in just 7.92 seconds, the Elantra took 10.91 seconds, and the Corolla did it in 12.19 seconds. Even driveability and overtaking is a breeze in the Octavia, with it posting 4.89 seconds in kick-down from 20-80kmph. The same run took 5.99 seconds in the Elantra, while the Corolla completed it in 6.64 seconds.

Let’s talk about ride and handling now. The Elantra has certainly got the best overall ride comfort. Although the damping of the shocks are set to being slightly firm, the ride is compliant at slow speeds and it definitely feels the most settled even as the speeds rise. The icing on this cake here is the better bump absorption ability offered by the 60-profile tyres. We also felt that the light steering helps point the car to the intended direction with reasonable precision.

Toyota’s Corolla, on the other hand, is the softest sprung car in this contest. This gives it the most forgiving ride especially at low speeds, but at the same time, it does suffer from a fair bit of suspension noise when the roads go worse. That said, once you pick up speed, the ride does get floatier in comparison due to the softer suspension set-up. Sure, the steering on the Corolla feels the lightest of the lot, and this makes the car easy to drive inside the city. However, we would have preferred some more weight at higher speeds.

Skoda’s Octavia has the stiffest low speed ride here, and you can feel the bumps and road irregularities inside the cabin at slow speeds. However, as the speeds rise, the well-judged suspension set-up absorbs most bumps and gives it a flat ride. What helps matters even further is that the wider track on the facelifted car which allows for some exciting high-speed cornering abilities around bends too. All this is also complemented by a well-weighted steering that offers crisp response and feedback on the go.

Verdict

Rank 3

Toyota Corolla Altis

Final Score: 372/600

On-road price: Rs 23.39 lakhs

What we liked about the Toyota Corolla Altis is its ability to commute around the city with ease. Better still if you’re being chauffeured, since it has the most comfortable rear seat. Then there’s also the bullet-proof reliability of Toyota products that come into play. However, what doesn’t work in favour of the Corolla is that the front seats are quite flat (in case you’re driving), it doesn’t feel exciting to drive at higher speeds, and the cabin still feels less appointed than what the price tag suggests. 


Rank 2

Hyundai Elantra

Final Score: 392/600

On-road price: Rs 21.76 lakhs

The Hyundai Elantra manages to accomplish a lot of things reasonably well. There’s the balanced looks, punchy mid-range performance, lots of features, it’s the cheapest to buy here and has the most comfortable front seats too. However, what essentially goes against this Hyundai is the serious lack of thigh support and headroom at the rear. Plus, the black cabin and slim windows don’t exactly make things better for the rear occupants either. And most importantly, it doesn’t have what it takes to beat the Octavia just yet. 


Rank 1

Skoda Octavia 

Final Score: 418/600

On-road price: Rs 25.83 lakh

When it comes to the Skoda Octavia, it definitely feels like the better all-rounder in this contest. But it does have its shortcomings too. Occupants will find the low speed ride to be firm, and Skoda doesn’t have the best reputation for after-sales service either. However, despite it being the most expensive one here, it kind-of makes up for this with the long equipment list and the attractive, well finished cabin with enormous boot space. Likewise, its eager petrol motor paired to that brilliant DSG gearbox also makes this package even more irresistible. 

Should we say that the Skoda Octavia just flew away with the honours!

 

Pictures: Kapil Angane

 

Specifications

CAR NAME Hyundai Elantra Skoda Octavia  Toyota Corolla Altis
Variant 2.0 SX (O) AT 1.8 TSI Style Plus AT VL AT
ENGINE      
Fuel Petrol Petrol Petrol
Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse
Displacement 4 cyls, 1999cc 4 cyls, 1798cc 4 cyls, 1798cc
Bore/stroke 81.0/97mm 82.5/84.1mm 80.5/88.3mm
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl 4 valves per cyl 4 valves per cyl
Power 150bhp at 6200rpm 177bhp at 4500rpm 138bhp at 6400rpm
Torque 192Nm at 4000rpm 250Nm at 1250rpm 173Nm at 4000rpm
Power to weight 112.7bhp per tonne 128.2bhp per tonne 108bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 144.3Nm per tonne 181.1Nm per tonne 136.2Nm per tonne
Gearbox 6-speed auto  7-speed auto 7-step CVT
CHASSIS & BODY      
Kerb weight 1330kg 1380kg 1270kg
Tyres 205/60 R16 205/55 R16 205/55 R16
Spare Full-size Full-size Full-size
STEERING      
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion
Type of assist Electric Electric Electric
Turning circle 10.6m 10.4m 10.8m
BRAKES      
Front Discs Discs Discs
Rear Discs Discs Discs
Anti-lock Yes Yes Yes

Test Data

CAR NAME Hyundai Elantra Skoda Octavia Toyota Corolla Altis
Variant 2.0 SX (O) AT 1.8 TSI Style Plus AT VL AT
PERFORMANCE & BRAKING      
0-20kph 1.32s 1.59s 1.63s
0-40kph 2.89s 2.76s 3.75s
0-60kph 4.94s 4.07s 5.86s
0-80kph 7.63s 5.78s 8.64s
0-100kph 10.91s 7.92s 12.19s
0-120kph 14.86s 10.66s 23.78s
       
20-80kph in 3rd gear 5.99s 4.89s 6.64s
40-100kph in 4th gear 8.34s 5.46s 8.20s
       
80-0kph 22.77m 26.31m 25.38m
FUEL ECONOMY      
City 9.5kpl 9.6kpl 9.8kpl
Highway 13.5kpl 14.3kpl 14.2kpl
Tank size 50 litres 50 litres 55 litres
Range 491km 508km 562km
INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS      
Front      
Legroom(Max/min) 880/650mm 880/640mm 850/600mm
Headroom(Max/min) 920mm 990mm 970mm
Shoulder room 1420mm 1380mm 1410mm
Backrest height 640mm 630mm 620mm
Rear       
Legroom(Max/min) 830/600mm 860/610mm 920/670mm
Ideal legroom 730mm 780mm 780mm
Headroom 900mm 950mm 900mm
Shoulder room 1350mm 1400mm 1360mm
Seat base length 460mm 470mm 510mm
Backrest height 690mm 660mm 640mm
Boot 480litres 590litres 490litres
Length/width/height 1000/1070/530mm 1090/1140/570mm 1000/1120/510mm
Loading lip height 710mm

720mm

710mm
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