The Skoda Octavia has ruled the D-segment since the time it was launched a couple of years back but now the Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Jetta have got a facelift which boost their appeal, says Faisal Ali Khan from MotorBeam.com
Even though D-segment sedans have been overshadowed by SUVs, there are some who still appreciate the classy body style that never goes out of fashion.
But with prices touching above the Rs. 200,00,00 mark, it is really getting difficult to retain customers in this segment, especially considering the fact that buyers now have the option to skip the segment and opt for an entry-level luxury offering instead.
Nonetheless, manufacturers do believe that there is a market for these very capable offerings and have been updating their models from time to time.
With the Volkswagen Jetta and Hyundai Elantra having received upgrades earlier this year, MotorBeam decided to find out which D-segment sedan makes for a better buy.
While each of the sedans do have their high points in terms of styling, it is indeed the Hyundai Elantra that makes heads turn with its curves and creases, courtesy of the fluidic design philosophy.
In comparison, the Volkswagen Jetta and Skoda Octavia appear more uptight with the simplistic design language.
That said, the minimalistic styling on the Europeans does look classier and will also age slower.
The Elantra is a looker without a doubt, but won’t appeal to all buyers.
The Jetta, on the other hand, is understated in its looks with a mature profile and gets subtle hints of chrome and smart looking alloys that make it a compelling package.
The third generation Octavia manages to get a sporty profile coupled with a classy stance and definitely has appeal, but gets boring alloy wheels.
It is as different as chalk and cheese when you step inside the cabin of all these cars.
While the build quality is extremely good on all three sedans, the Elantra stands out courtesy of its curvy design theme.
With the 2015 facelift, the all-black cabin looks sporty but loses on the premium and airy feel a bit.
The Jetta too was updated this year but despite the subtle changes, its age does show up with a mundane dashboard.
The Octavia looks the most balanced in appearance and compliments the classy exteriors.
With most owners being chauffeur driven, rear legroom is ample on all sedans with the Octavia offering the most while the Elantra lacks thigh support.
Headroom is also an issue on the Hyundai with its coupe-like roofline.
The three sedans are feature laden, but certain bits like the Elantra’s ventilated front seats do stand out along with the 10-way driver’s seat adjustability and push button start.
The 2015 Jetta comes with a new flat-bottom steering wheel, revised instrument cluster and Fatigue Detection System that are certainly useful.
Starting with the Hyundai Elantra, the car sports a 1.8-litre petrol engine producing 149.5 PS and 178 Nm of torque while the 1.6-litre diesel produces 128 PS and 260 Nm.
The Volkswagen Jetta comes with a 1.4-litre TSI motor belting out 123 PS and 200 Nm, while the same unit is tuned to produce 140 PS and 250 Nm of torque on the Skoda Octavia. The Octy also gets a 1.8-litre TSI unit with 180 PS and 250 Nm.
Diesel power comes from a 2.0-litre TDI motor that produces 140 PS and 320 Nm on the Jetta, and is tuned for 143 PS and 320 Nm on the Octavia.
While the Elantra petrol is more powerful than the Europeans on paper, the same does not translate on tarmac.
The 1.4 is simply quick with a strong mid-range while the 1.8 is powerful and is truly for the enthusiast.
With the diesel unit too, the Elantra offers decent drivability but is not able to match up to the performance of the Germans.
The Skoda Octavia is also lighter than the Jetta courtesy of the MQB platform, which makes it a tad bit quick off the line.
The Jetta and Octavia get super-slick gearboxes with the former also sporting paddle shifters.
In terms of efficiency, the Elantra diesel beats its rivals thanks to its smaller engine.
The Elantra’s steering is vague like any other Hyundai with barely any feedback to the driver.
Yes, the steering is light and it is easy to drive the car at low speeds but lacks confidence at high speeds despite the vehicle being composed at triple digit speeds.
That said, there is some bounce on the Elantra at high speeds on bad roads, which gets discomforting.
Moving to the Europeans, the Octavia and Jetta offer crisp handling capabilities with the steering wheel providing ample feedback.
Both the sedans get a stiff suspension setup with a multi-link unit on the top-end variants; whereas the Octavia gets a torsion beam suspension on the 1.4 and 2.0 engine variants; all of which allows the cars to remain stable at high speeds.
Handling is just superlative on the Jetta and Octavia with the sedans able to attack corners with confidence.
Braking performance on the Elantra is impressive with a good pedal bite, but the Europeans are clearly better.
Interestingly, the Jetta is priced cheaper than the Octavia, despite sharing a similar equipment list and also being the more premium brand.
With all three vehicles crossing the Rs. 20 lakh mark in terms of pricing, safety comes naturally with a long list of tech on board inclusive of ABS, EBD, ESP, front and rear disc brakes.
Speaking about the after sales and service, Hyundai easily wins this round by a gigantic difference with Volkswagen and Skoda being hardly able to keep up.
All three sedans emerge as great packages and are extremely potent in several departments.
The Elantra and Jetta get similarly priced base variants, but it is the range-topping variants that are priced miles apart.
The range-topping Jetta (Rs. 24.12 lakhs) is more expensive than the top-end Elantra (Rs. 21.75 lakhs) by a healthy Rs. 3 lakhs while the Octavia is further expensive by almost a lakh, touching Rs. 25 lakhs (all prices, on-road Mumbai).
The Elantra just does not appeal to the driving enthusiast and isn't as composed as the rivals. In comparison, the Octavia is a fantastic offering but is exorbitantly priced.
Hence, the Volkswagen Jetta concludes as a smart buy in this shootout with its impeccable driving dynamics, loaded features list and a terrific German build quality to its credit.