The D-segment in India today is witnessing a major change of sorts. Everywhere, the traditional players are now facing opposition from SUVs which have come to dominate this part of the market. This has created a unique situation as the diesel versions of the sedans have to fight against their diesel SUV counterparts. This has allowed the petrol powered versions to retain the strength of the body style and give them their identity. Sensing this, manufacturers have now begun offering fully loaded petrol versions. This will now happen with the 2017 Skoda Octavia (which will be launched on July 13) and here it will take on the powerful petrol versions of the Hyundai Elantra as well as the Toyota Corolla Altis. We have driven the 2017 Skoda Octavia and you can find the review here.
Three cars, three countries and three different design styles. At the heart of things, this is the very essence of what comes to mind when we delve into the exterior design. The country of origin is very visible in the way the elements mesh around the vehicle. Firstly, the loudest of the three is, of course, the Elantra with its massive grille, sloping shape and big rear-end. The Corolla comes in second with its sharp face, sportier silhouette and wrap around tail lamps.
Finally, the Octavia is the most subtle of the lot. In this facelifted guise, it gets split head lamps and a slight revision for the moustache grille. However, if you go a bit closer you will see the hints of chrome on the bumpers, along the windows, as well as the sporty roofline and LED heavy tail lamps.
Going above a certain price range, you get a lot of features as standard and this list includes climate control, touchscreen infotainment system, leather upholstery, multiple stowage spaces and of course big boots with foldable rear seats for extended space. The overall designs maybe different but all three are quite similar when it comes to layout, shapes and even placement of items.
At one point of time build quality was an issue and it was quite visible when you looked at the three but even that has now been addressed and all three are on a level playing field when it comes to this aspect.
This is the dominion of the sedan in the D-segment. It is their specialty and the one place where they would be able to stand against the SUV when it comes what is on offer. What you get are three four-cylinder engines producing different outputs and all offered with automatic gearboxes to provide a seamless driving experience.
The least powerful of the lot is the Corolla Altis with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder unit which produces 138bhp/173Nm of torque with power going to the front wheels via a six-speed AT. The Elantra gets a slightly larger 2.0-litre engine which produces 150bhp/192Nm of torque and is mated to a seven-speed AT.
It’s the Octavia that’s the most powerful as its 1.8-litre mill produces 188bhp/250Nm of torque. This takes a further leg up as the engine has been mated to a seven-speed DSG box. Additionally, this is only one of the three which gets an independent rear suspension, a factor that really enhances the overall driving experience.
The best way we would sum up what is going on here is to see this as three cars and each with their own USPs. The Corolla Altis while being the most average of the lot gets the backing of Toyota’s service and sales network which has now gained a reputation for being super strong. The Elantra offers maximum on features while the Octavia is the strongest built of the lot and is the most driver focused in terms of what is on offer.