Shootout: 2015 Toyota Camry vs Skoda Superb
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 34.97 – 38.73 lakhs (Toyota Camry), Rs. 26.37 – 30.20 lakhs (Skoda Superb)
These D-segment cars can give costlier German sedans a big run for their money
The D-segment might be shrinking in India all courtesy of SUVs which are taking away buyers from the segment. The decrease in demand for D-segment cars has also led to the lack of urgency from car makers in launching new models in the segment, case in point being the Honda Accord, Volkswagen Passat and Hyundai Sonata, all three were discontinued last year and their new generation models will be launched next year. All this has led to two strong alternatives emerging in the segment, enjoying all of buyer’s attention. While SUVs may offer the macho feel and the ability to tackle rough roads with ease, there is the elegance and comfort which cars like the Toyota Camry and Skoda Superb offer in abundance. But among these two locally assembled cars, which makes a stronger case?
Motor Quest: The second generation Skoda Superb was launched in 2008 and was facelifted in 2014 with the third gen model already unveiled and under testing in India. The Toyota Camry is in its seventh generation and was given a facelift earlier this year. Both cars come via the CKD route. Last month, the Camry outsold the Superb.
Styling – The Skoda Superb is marginally longer and taller while the Toyota Camry is wider. Both these cars look big and really define what a sedan should look like. In fact, it won’t be wrong to call them limousines as their proportions are very generous. The Superb gets the typical Skoda elements, making it unmistakably a Czech vehicle but since it has been on sale since quite a long time, it’s started to show its age and looks a bit old now. In comparison, the fresher looking Camry does look better and also doesn’t look like any other Toyota car, thereby having a unique identity of its own.
Toyota has played the chrome card quite well on the facelifted Camry which gets a heavy dose of chrome all around. The big grille on the bumper of the Camry does look nice and also gives the car a wider appearance at the front. The Superb feels European in appearance while the Camry does carry its Japanese genes in its looks. Overall, the Toyota Camry does turn out to be the most attractive car here, it being fresher helping it induce more stares on Indian roads than the Skoda Superb.
Interiors – Once you get inside these cars, you will instantly like the Toyota Camry’s dashboard more which feels better in both aesthetics as well as overall finish. Quality on the Superb is immaculate but the Toyota is as good if not better. The use of multiple colours and wood gives the Camry a very rich feel, the 4-spoke steering wheel with those mounted buttons just feel more premium to use and hold. The Superb isn’t lacking, it’s just the Camry feels better. The Toyota also has more equipment on offer although this definitely isn’t a deal breaker as the Skoda is quite well loaded too. What might be a deal breaker though is rear seat space and comfort. For starters, the Superb is longer in overall length but the Camry has a longer wheelbase, so what’s more comfortable on the inside?
Both cars have dollops of space but the Camry feels richer and more luxurious
Without doubt, it has to be the Toyota Camry for those who like to leave driving to a chauffeur. The Superb has good seats but the Camry has better, the Superb has very good rear-seat legroom and so does the Camry but the Toyota has a few tricks up its sleeves. To start off, the Camry gets handles behind the front seats to hold on to and then the angle of the rear seat can be adjusted on the Toyota, you can recline it the way you like. That’s not all, The Camry’s rear seat centre arm rest also gets a slew of buttons to operate the seats, audio system and AC. The one big feature missing on the Camry which comes in the Superb is a sunroof while the Skoda also gets dual tail-gate opening mechanism, you can open it like a traditional sedan or like a hatchback, the Superb having the bigger boot.
Performance – Toyota doesn’t offer a diesel engine with the Camry so if diesel is all that you are looking for, there is no option but to opt for the Superb which comes powered by a 2.0-litre oil-burner that outputs 140 HP and 320 Nm, matched to a 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Coming to petrol engines, while Skoda has just one option in the form of the 1.8-litre TSI that produces 160 HP and 250 Nm, Toyota offers two – a standard petrol and a hybrid. Both models use a 2.5-litre VVT-i petrol motor with the petrol only version producing 181 PS and 233 Nm while the Hybrid belts out 160 PS and 213 Nm from the DOHC engine and 143 PS and 270 Nm from the permanent magnet synchronous motor, the total max output is rated at 205 PS.
The Camry Hybrid is an excellent alternative to the diesel Superb with better performance and mileage
The Superb petrol comes with the option of 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission while the petrol Camry uses a 6-speed automatic gearbox and the Camry Hybrid makes do with an E-CVT. There is no denying that Volkswagen’s 1.8-litre TSI motor is a peach, taking just 8.54 seconds to do the 0-100 km/hr run (the diesel Superb takes 10.45 seconds). In comparison, the petrol Camry takes a wee bit longer at 9.12 seconds while the Camry Hybrid actually blows the Superb in the acceleration to the ton, taking just 8.49 seconds. Thanks to battery assistance, the Camry Hybrid is very quick and is faster than the Superb in almost every way.
The engines on both these cars are punchy with the Superb’s mill being more enthusiastic while the Camry’s motor offers more linear performance. The Toyota powertrain is more audible at higher revs but in a nice way. What disappoints on the Camry is the gearbox which is a tad slow in comparison to the dual clutch unit on the Superb. Among the diesel and petrol engines of the Superb, we would pick the Camry Hybrid for its performance and also the fact that it’s more frugal too. Yes, you read that right, the Hybrid Camry is more efficient than the diesel Superb! Further tipping the scale in Toyota’s favour is the fact that for the environment conscious, the Camry Hybrid is much greener with lower CO2 emissions. It also has a bigger fuel tank so the gap between refills is longer.
Driving Dynamics – The Toyota Camry is known for its sofa like ride quality and the latest gen model is no different. It glides over bad roads without being fazed one bit and is much better than the Superb in tackling bumps, specially at low speeds. The Skoda has a slightly stiffer suspension set-up which can be felt at times but that also results in better high speed stability than the Camry. The softer suspension set-up on the Toyota is evident when you take to the wheel with enthusiasm.
The ride quality on the Camry is excellent but the steering lacks feedback
The Superb has much better handling and is a car you can have some fun around the twisties, not the same case with the Camry which has some evident body roll. The Hybrid model is 100 kgs heavier due to the weight of the batteries and that further affects the dynamics. The Toyota’s steering feels too devoid of feel and although light, doesn’t weigh up enough to inspire confidence. Skoda has done a good job with the steering feedback of the Superb and it’s more communicative too. Both cars have good brakes and come with a slew of electronics to ensure fuss free stopping. The Superb has a slightly smaller turning radius than the Camry.
Safety and After Sales Service – Had we done this comparison with the pre-facelift Camry, the Superb would have easily won in this department but Toyota has now equipped the Camry with 7 airbags (the Superb gets 8). Both cars have a ton of safety features and are rated 5-stars by safety organisations. Coming to the crucial after-sales service, Toyota beats Skoda hands down by offering drastically higher peace of mind with better reliability, lower spare costs and a better service experience.
Verdict – There is no denying the fact that the Skoda Superb is a hugely capable car which offers a ton to buyers. But there is no denying the fact that the Toyota Camry is the better car of the two. There is of course a catch because the Japanese vehicle comes at a vast premium, the price difference between the diesel Superb and petrol Camry is itself high and when you compare the petrol Superb with the Camry Hybrid, the difference further soars. Is it worth paying the higher price for the Toyota? Definitely because the Superb being a generation old now doesn’t offer the same executive experience as the Camry and when the new model arrives next year, expect the price gap between these cars to be negligible. Till then, the Camry Hybrid remains our pick in this segment.
The Camry Hybrid although much more expensive than the Superb is a better car in most ways and thus Toyota trumps Skoda to emerge on top in this shootout. If Toyota launches a diesel Camry or a diesel Hybrid then cars like the Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 too would face some serious heat.
Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta
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