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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

April 29, 2014 08:41 IST

Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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Arup Das

Every segment in the auto business has a market favourite. But in the Rs 20-25 lakh bracket for sedans, there is no outright winner.

This is not because of lack of options, but because the buyers in this class are more conscious about stuff like images and brands.

So, often they buy premium SUVs, which are available in the same price range, or add to their outgo and drive away in one of the German troika - Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz. And yet, there are three sedans in the premium category that can hold their own against the glamour machines - Hyundai Sonata, Skoda Superb and Toyota Camry.

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Image: Hyundai Sonata.
Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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In all departments, whether it be comfort, safety, technical features or the luxury quotient, these machines are right up there. The only thing they lack is the cocky image so well loved by the big spenders.

All three cars tasted initial success in the showrooms, but in the long haul were unable to become the torch bearer for their respective companies.

Now the three are on the roads in revamped versions.

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Image: Toyota Camry.
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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The Skoda Superb is the latest upgrade among the three and looks fresh and regal, while trying hard to inject an air of arrogance into its unadventurous attitude.

The first generation Sonata came across like a Jaguar, with a heavy accent on bling. Many people cracked jokes about it, but the reality was that it was a hot seller.

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Image: Skoda Superb.
Photographs: Courtesy, Skoda

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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The latest generation, thankfully, does not try to mimic any other iconic car.

Rather, it creates its own aggressive Jaws-like appearance with the broad strokes of the company's Fluidic design quite evident.

This model of the Sonata will surely attract a lot of eyeballs.

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Image: Hyundai Sonata.
Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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The Indian market is like no other market in the world, and many auto majors have had to hastily amend their strategies here.

Toyota has found this out the hard way as one of its best-selling sedans across the globe, the Camry, has had nothing short of a rough ride in India.

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Image: Toyota Camry.
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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There was never any doubt about the Camry's quality, but what it seriously lacked was a presence.

Understated charms don't work in this segment, at least in this country, even if it is a stellar car. In this price bracket, but the buyer envisions a grand machine, not a classy simple car.

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Image: Toyota Camry.
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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These cars are quite different from each other. While the Camry and Sonata only come with petrol engines, the Superb is available in models that use both petrol and diesel.

The Sonata, at least on paper, is the power house of the trio, with 201 PS at your service. In reality, however, it's all about refinement.

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Image: Hyundai Sonata.
Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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Number-crunchers base their decisions on the additional grunts that a car provides. In the Sonata, the power is not a raw exhibition of machismo.

It has more of a gentlemanly approach to speed. But this translates into effortless driving in city limits.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic is hardly a stress as the Sonata's six-speed manual gearbox is precise and unhindered by annoying lags.

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Image: Hyundai Sonata.
Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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If life is all about driving comfort, then you can opt for the six-speed automatic version. It also has paddle shifts that allow you to manually control the revs.

The reason why Sonata is an excellent commuter and not a fire starter is because the actual power kicks in around the 4,000-rpm range, that is, it isn't as quick off the block as one would want it to be.

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Image: Hyundai Sonata.
Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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The Camry is a no-nonsense car, well deserving of the title of "smooth operator". Turn on the 2.5-litre engine and it is so still within that you will doubt whether the engines have fired.

In terms of power, the Camry comes with less muscle than the Sonata. And while its engines churns out 181 PS, we have underlined earlier how numbers on a paper are not the same thing in the real world.

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Image: Toyota Camry interior.
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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As the power, in a linear fashion, surges up to the 3000 rpm mark, the Camry definitely feels quicker than the Sonata.

The car is so responsive to thrust that should you step on the gas hastily, the car will warn you rudely with an unpleasant jerk.

Though the engine whines a tad past 5500 rpm, the Camry never lacks pulling power.

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Image: Toyota Camry.
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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The Superb is the jack of all trades as both the petrol and diesel engines are marvellous.

Mated with the DSG automatic gearbox, they are truly a blast to drive. In both the engines, the gears are slotted to the perfect ratio, so you never feel the lack of juice.

A more comprehensive review of the car was carried in Business Standard last week.

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Image: Skoda Superb.
Photographs: Courtesy, Skoda

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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All three cars, in their own right, represent value for money. The Sonata brings in modern and youthful looks with state-of-the-art features. However, its interiors could have done with some quality control.

Due to its soft suspensions it easily soaks in all the bumps but one has to get used to the wobbly ride.

The Camry is solidly built, has excellent service quality, is very spacious inside, but it appears a bit old fashioned and will hardly sweep the crowd off its feet.

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Image: Hyundai Sonata interior.
Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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One needs to go beyond the look and feel for someone to applaud its qualities. But that could be asking too much of a buyer.

The Superb is an all-rounder with a rich feel both inside and outside. It comes with all the latest features and brings in an air of luxury which is what people are looking for.

Plus, it is the only car that comes with a diesel option. What Skoda needs to do is improve its servicing, else its products are world class.

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Image: Skoda Superb interior.
Photographs: Courtesy, Skoda

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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Skoda Superb

(BOTH AUTOMATIC)

Engine

1,798cc petrol

1,968cc diesel

Power

160PS @6200rpm

140PS @ 4200rpm

Torque

250Nm @ 4500rpm

320Nm @ 2500rpm

Economy (ARAI)

13.7 kmpl

17.2 kmpl

Price

Rs 21.94 lakh

Rs 23.07 lakh

(Ex-showroom, Delhi)

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Image: Skoda Superb.
Photographs: Courtesy, Skoda

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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Hyundai Sonata

Engine: 2,359cc petrol

Power: 201 PS @ 6300 rpm

Torque: 250 Nm @ 4250 rpm

Economy (ARAI)

13.8 kmpl (manual)

12.2 kmpl (automatic)

Price

Rs 18.73 lakh (manual)

Rs 20.77 lakh (automatic)

(Ex-showroom, Delhi)


Image: Hyundai Sonata.
Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Car compare: Hyundai Sonata vs Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb

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Toyota Camry

Engine: 2494cc petrol

Power: 181 PS @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 233 Nm @ 4100 rpm

Economy (ARAI): 12.9 kmpl

Price: Rs 25.08 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi)

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Image: Toyota Camry
Photographs: Courtesy, Toyota

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