Shootout: 2015 Hyundai Elantra vs Volkswagen Jetta vs Skoda Octavia
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 16.86 – 21.75 lakhs (Hyundai Elantra), Rs. 16.64 – 24.12 lakhs (Volkswagen Jetta), Rs. 19.04 – 24.79 lakhs (Skoda Octavia)
While the Korean focusses on features & VFM, the two Germans focus on driving feel
The D-segment has been witnessing a continuous downfall in sales since the past few years. Reason being the increasing costs of vehicles that are slotted in this segment. With the prices of vehicles touching the Rs. 20 lakh-mark and even more, it is obvious that buyers consider a lot of other vehicles in other segments too before plonking so much of their hard-earned moolah. In a similar price bracket that these sedans are positioned in, you get to choose from entry-level products offered by Germans like Audi, Mercedes and BMW and also by plonking in a bit more there is a variety of large SUVs to choose from. If you look at spending slightly lesser, then you get C-segment sedans that now come with features similar to those offered on their larger counterparts. However, manufacturers are unfazed by all this and they keep launching new products in every segment just to keep the ship sailing. Hyundai recently launched the 2015 Elantra which comes with cosmetic changes while Volkswagen too launched the Jetta facelift a couple of months back while the Octavia continues without any updates since the arrival of the third generation model.
Motor Quest: D-segment sedans like the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic et al were very popular a few years back. With rising competition and increasing cost of vehicles, sales in this segment started to fade out. Currently, the market is loaded with a lot of options across various segments in the same price range and buyers are really spoilt for choice. The current top seller in the segment is the Toyota Corolla Altis.
Styling – Design is a very subjective thing and while the Elantra comes across as flashy with the numerous curves and creases that it carries, the Jetta and Octavia are quite simple in styling terms. The Jetta has straight body lines with no unnecessary curves and this minimalist design actually looks a lot more classier than its Korean rival. The Octavia too has a very premium appeal. But, while the Jetta is discrete in looks, the Octavia looks quite sporty with its blackened roof and smoked headlights. Both the 2015 Elantra and Jetta received minor cosmetic updates recently that are hardly visible to the regular joe. The new projector lights on the Hyundai look like aftermarket fitments to us.
The Skoda Octavia is the one that looks the best when cruising down the road and it comes with some sporty colours too, which are sure to grab a lot of glances from on-lookers. The Elantra is also a looker, no doubt, but not everyone in this segment would want to buy something so flashy. The design philosophy may or may not appeal to elders. The Jetta with its clean looks appeals to everyone. The Volkswagen also has the best-looking wheels out here followed by the Octy with the Elantra’s alloys not really impressing much.
Interiors – The curvy design theme of the Elantra is carried over to the interiors too. The sedan comes packed with a lot of features. Quality of interior components is very good and there is no reason to complain about the fit and finish either. The Jetta and Octavia too make use of very good interior components. The new Elantra gets black interiors and we think these look sportier than the outgoing model although they do rob the airy feel. The Jetta received some tweaks in dashboard design and continues to look good but comes across as slightly mundane for youngsters. The Octavia has great-looking interiors which lend a very classy feel to the sedan. All the cars here come loaded with features that are expected in this segment, give or take a couple of features which aren’t really deal-breakers but the Elantra’s ventilated front seats do stand out. The Hyundai also gets keyless go and push button start which add to the convenience but shockingly it lacks a distance to empty display.
Legroom is very similar on all three vehicles with the Octavia having the most and while the Elantra’s seat is placed a bit low, it also loses out on headroom for rear passengers. The Jetta has an excellent rear bench while the Octavia excels when it comes to comfort. Rear AC vents are present on all three cars along with rear armrests. The Octavia comes with the biggest boot at 590-litres while the Elantra has the smallest boot at 420-litres. The Jetta also has a decently big boot at 510-litres. Hyundai has added a new rear parking camera system in the 2015 Elantra while the driver’s seat is 10-way adjustable. Volkswagen has added a new steering wheel, paddle shifters, revised instrument cluster, Fatigue Detection System and a new black and beige colour theme in the 2015 Jetta.
Performance – All the three sedans come with petrol and diesel engines. The Elantra gets a 1.8-litre petrol unit and a 1.6-litre diesel engine. The Jetta and Octavia share the 1.4-litre TSI petrol and 2.0-litre TDI diesel engines while the latter also gets an option of a 1.8-litre TSI mill. Talking about petrol engines first, the 1.8-litre mill on the Hyundai produces 149.5 PS of power and 178 Nm of torque. The Jetta 1.4 gives out 122 HP of power and 200 Nm of torque while the same engine on the Skoda produces a higher output of 140 PS and 250 Nm. The 1.8-litre TSI engine churns out 180 PS and 250 Nm. The Elantra is more powerful than the Jetta on paper while in actual usage it does lose out to its rivals. The 1.4-litre TSI mill has a very strong mid-range and you feel a nice surge of power around the 3000 RPM mark after which the car just takes off.
The Elantra has very neutral performance while the other two will satisfy the enthusiast in you
The diesel Elantra produces 128 PS of power and 260 Nm of torque while the Jetta produces 140 PS and 320 Nm. The Octavia comes with the same engine as the former but it produces 143 PS of power. The Elantra has decent drivability but simply loses out to the performance of the Germans. The MQB platform also makes the Octy slightly lighter on weight. The transmission on the Jetta and Octavia is super slick and Volkswagen also provides paddle-shifters on the Jetta. Talking about fuel efficiency, the Elantra has a marginal edge over here and it trumps over both its rivals thanks to the smaller engine.
In city usage, we got a petrol fuel efficiency of around 9 km/l from the sedans while on highways the mileage was marginally better. The TDI engine is quite frugal if driven sedately. We got 10 km/l in the city in the Jetta and Octavia and 13 km/l on the highways. The Elantra diesel had a slightly higher fuel efficiency. Thanks to its light weight and more power, the Octavia offers the best performance out here but the Jetta isn’t far behind. It lags behind its sibling by a very small margin unlike the Elantra which fails to satisfy the enthusiast in you. The 1.8-litre TSI engine variant on the Octavia is the one you should consider if you want to enjoy driving and the lightning quick 7-speed DSG is like a cherry on the cake. NVH levels on all the three cars are very good.
Driving Dynamics – Just like other Hyundais, even the Elantra comes with a steering that has a very vague feel to it. There is hardly any feedback. The steering is light and it’s easy to drive the car at low speeds but the wheel lacks confidence at high speeds, even though the Elantra remains very composed at speeds above the ton mark. The Jetta and Octavia are both good to drive and have very crisp handling capabilities. The suspension on the Germans is stiff which makes them remain pretty much stable at all types of speeds, while the Elantra’s ride gets a bit discomforting over bad roads at high speeds, there is some bounce.
The Jetta comes with a multi-link suspension at the rear offering great ride quality along with very good handling. The Octavia comes with a torsion beam suspension in the 1.4 and 2.0 engined variants and only the 1.8 TSI gets the multi-link set-up which is a bit shocking because the Jetta is actually cheaper than the Octavia! However, both the sedans stick to the road like a train on rails and not even once did we feel non-confident while tackling corners at decently high speeds. Coming to braking performance, the Elantra has good braking but again its rivals have a more confidence-inspiring feel.
Safety and After Sales Service – Since these vehicles touch the Rs. 20 lakh mark, it is naturally expected from them to come loaded with safety features. The Elantra, Jetta and Octavia all come with six airbags as standard while other safety features like ABS, EBD, ESP and front and rear disc brakes are also present. The Elantra also gets Hill Assist Control which the other two miss out on. Talking about after-sales service, this is where Hyundai really trumps its competition in this segment. Volkswagen and Skoda’s after-sales just cannot match Hyundai or Toyota’s service in this segment.
Verdict – The D-segment has evolved a lot in the past few years. Prices have gone up like crazy and there is a huge variety of choices in other segments too. All the three sedans here are very good and come across as great packages. The Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Jetta come with similarly-priced base models but the Jetta’s top most variant is expensive. The Skoda Octavia is priced exorbitantly but is no doubt a fantastic car. The Jetta should have been pricier than the Octy considering the fact that Volkswagen is taken as the more premium brand out of the two. Our pick in this comparison is the Volkswagen Jetta because it provides great driving dynamics and terrific German build quality. If you don’t fancy the Jetta and want something that is no-nonsense and easy to live with when it comes to maintenance, then the Hyundai Elantra makes a strong case for itself. The Octavia touches Rs. 25 lakhs and if you plonk in a bit more, you could get your hands on some entry-level offerings from Mercedes, BMW and Audi. No doubt the Octavia is the best car here but it needs an update to induce the freshness that its rivals now possess.
The Hyundai Elantra is a very good sedan, no doubt, but it lacks the premium feel that its rivals exude. The Octavia is more fun to drive but the Jetta is equally good. The Jetta’s superior multi-link suspension along with a cheaper price than its Skoda sibling, makes it our pick in this shootout.
Further Reading –
2015 Volkswagen Jetta Review
2015 Hyundai Elantra Review
Skoda Octavia Review
Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI Review
Skoda Octavia vs Hyundai Elantra vs Toyota Corolla vs Renault Fluence
Skoda Octavia vs Volkswagen Jetta vs Hyundai Elantra
Pictures: Hari Kurup – ST[YOU]DIO