Let’s look at the powertrains that propel these vehicles. While the Octavia is powered by a 2.0-litre 143bhp diesel motor with 320Nm (1750-3000rpm), the Tucson’s 2.0-litre diesel engine makes 185bhp and 400Nm of torque (1750-2750rpm), and the Innova Crysta’s motor displaces 2.8-litres, good for 174bhp and 360Nm of torque (1200-3400rpm).
The Octavia is by far the lightest at 1395kg, while the Tucson weighs in at 1670kg and the Innova Crysta tips the scales at 1870kg. And this shows in the performance exhibited by these vehicles. Despite the widest torque spread of the Innova’s engine, it feels the slowest, and is also the least refined in this group. Though the Tucson’s engine doesn’t perform as spiritedly as the Octavia’s, it is the most refined and accelerates in a linear manner from as low as 1800rpm, making it especially nice to drive in the town.
The Octavia is undoubtedly the best driver’s car thanks to the low centre of gravity, punchy performance from the diesel motor and the willing six-speed DSG shifter. Though this DSG is easily the quickest ‘box of the lot, it tends to get confused at times which makes it jerky. The Tucson’s six-speed transmission, on the other hand, can easily walk away with the laurels of being the smoothest gearbox in terms of shift quality.
The Innova Crysta’s six-speed torque convertor is an old-school gearbox. As soon as you go off-throttle it upshifts, and begins to freewheel. The effect is even more pronounced as this is a heavy car, and the brakes have a lot of work to do in the absence of engine braking. In fact, this gearbox is old-school in every way, right from the sideways gear shift pattern which we hardly see being used in cars nowadays.
To give you an idea, the 20-80kmph runs in kickdown took 5.31sec, 5.40sec, and 6.73sec in the Octavia, Tucson and Innova Crysta. Similarily, the 40-100kmph sprints were clocked in 6.92sec, 6.70sec, and 8.56sec respectively. The Innova Crysta returned 9.8kmpl and 13.9kmpl in the city and highway efficiency runs, while the Tucson and Octavia returned 11.5/15.7kmpl, and 12.1/16.9kmpl for the same cycles.
Let’s talk ride characteristics. On paper, the Octavia and Tucson have a more rigid monocoque chassis, so, they should be better in terms of dynamics as compared to the Innova Crysta, which is built on a rugged ladder-frame. This was confirmed when we eventually drove them. The sportiness of the Octavia bites it as far as low speed ride is concerned, as it is a little thumpy and you can hear the suspension working. It doesn’t throw you around but sometimes the suspension makes a painful noise.
The Innova Crysta does exactly the opposite. It has the highest centre of gravity which results in a lot more roll, and it also pitches under braking. Nevertheless, it rides well at low speeds but you get that typical shimmy over patched-up road surfaces which is distinctive of a ladder frame vehicle. The Tucson slots right in between. This monocoque SUV sits on taller and softer springs, so while it does roll more than the Octavia, it has got the best low speed ride amongst the three.
On the highway, the tables turn once again. Where the Octavia felt slightly uncomfortable at low speeds, it becomes a great long distance cruiser thanks to the comfort from the flat ride. The Tucson, thanks to its softer suspension has a lot of vertical movement. Though it is not as bad as the Innova Crysta, it is pronounced and a more controlled damping would have helped make it a better highway car. The Innova Crysta has the most amount of roll and vertical movement, but once the car is fully loaded there is lesser motion.