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The new Skoda Octavia is definitely a good looking car, but it’s come into a segment of the automobile market that has been shrinking or not really seeing any action right now – the Rs. 12 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh sedan segment. The current leader in that segment is the Hyundai Elantra, which has also been struggling to hold on to 400 cars a month in sales.

The Skoda Laura, a one-time segment topper, which till now was competing quite aggressively in that segment has lost the game already, playing musical chairs with the Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Altis in terms of sales numbers for a while. Can the Skoda Octavia, not just recover lost ground, but also top the segment? Is it significantly better than the Hyundai Elantra? Here’s a comparison of the 2013 Skoda Octavia with the Hyundai Elantra. Also see: Hyundai Elantra road test and review

 

Design and looks: Octavia looks more premium

The Skoda Octavia retains its premium European looks but has grown in size. It is longer and more spacious than the previous generation cars. The front end has some of that squared-off look still intact, while the rear has the familiar Skoda family look with C-in-C tail-lamps and a groove cut into the number plate area. Overall, the Octavia passes off as a premium car, which looks worth its price tag.

Now the Hyundai Elantra is not to be outdone. It has Hyundai’s trademark fluidic styling all over it. Where the Octavia is more straight lines and sharp cuts, the Elantra is all about flowing design and curved swoops on its body work. The downside is that the Elantra’s design looks way to similar to the other Hyundai front-ends, and it’s not instantly differentiated. However, it has a sporty look, but may not appeal to everyone’s taste. Also see: Hyundai Elantra vs Skoda Laura 

Performance and handling: Octavia has an edge

The Skoda Octavia has come back with a vengeance to the segment to try and take back some of what it lost out – the performance crown for one. If you compare petrol variants of the Hyundai Elantra with the Skoda Octavia, you can see how the Octavia has an edge. The base petrol variant is the 1.4 TSI (turbopetrol), with a six-speed manual transmission. It puts out 140 bhp of power and 250 Nm of torque. This engine itself is enough to take on the Hyundai Elantra’s petrol range, which is a 1.8 litre engine that puts out 148 bhp of power and 177 Nm of torque. The Octavia is clearly more performance oriented.

Compare the 1.8 litre, turbopetrol engine of the Octavia with the Elantra and the latter is completely outclassed. The Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSI puts out 178 bhp of power and 250 Nm of torque (limited because of gearbox limitations) with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. The Elantra automatic  features a six-speed torque convertor transmission.

Among the diesel variants, the Elantra is powered by a 1.6 litre diesel that puts out 126 bhp of power and 260 Nm of torque with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. This engine is shared with the smaller Hyundai Verna. The Octavia comes with a 2-litre diesel (same as the earlier Laura) putting out 140 bhp of power and 320 Nm of torque, with a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual clutch automatic. Here too, the Skoda Octavia now has an edge.

In terms of handling, the Skoda Octavia will appeal better to enthusiasts with its driving feel, while the Hyundai Elantra, although good to drive, is a car that could do with slightly better handling. Make no mistake, the Elantra is good, but the Octavia is better. Also see: 2012 Hyundai Elantra video review 

Space and comfort: Elantra better on passenger comfort

The Hyundai Elantra is spacious, and so is the Skoda Octavia. But the question is, which one pampers you more. The Octavia, has a generous boot with 590 litres of storage space, expandable if you flip the seats down. The notchback design of the Octavia gives it a bit more flexibility in terms of space. However, in terms of seating space the Octavia is good only for four passengers, as the fifth has to contend with a high transmission tunnel hump. Also the seat is fairly upright and under thigh support is average compared to the chunkier seats in the Elantra, which also boasts of cooled front seats (a boon in hot summers, really).

In the Elantra, the floor is flatter and five can be seated decently enough. However, boot space in the Elantra is not that great at only 425 litres, which is decent enough, but not as voluminous as the Octavia.

Features: Both cars equally matched

Come to features and both cars lay out all the goodies possible. The top-end Octavia takes things up a notch with adaptive xenon headlamps with washers, an electric sunroof and has a much more comprehensive multi-information display with vehicle features that can be set and touch-screen infotainment system. The Elantra lacks these things, but otherwise both cars have power driver’s seat in the top-end variants, alloys, ABS, six airbags, Bluetooth connectivity, parking sensors and leather upholstery among other things. The Elantra also has cooled front seats and push-button ignition, features which the Octavia lacks.

Price and overall value for money: Elantra is better value for money

Price. Now that is a clincher. The Hyundai Elantra is priced between Rs. 12.68 lakh and Rs. 16.04 lakh ex-showroom Delhi. This is a more than Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 4 lakh cheaper variant for variant compared to the Skoda Octavia. The Octavia is clearly much more premium in terms of pricing, with ex-showroom prices ranging from Rs. 13.95 lakh (for the 1.4 TSI petrol) going up to Rs. 19.45 lakh (for the Octavia Elegance diesel automatic). Given that both cars are neck and neck in terms of features per variant, the Hyundai Elantra is more value for money in overall terms. Also see: Skoda Octavia launched at Rs. 13.95 lakh

What we think

Both these cars are feature rich and have looks that appeal, although on different planes. The Skoda Octavia feels more premium, but it’s the Hyundai Elantra that comes across as a better value for money package. If you are a buyer who loves driving and seeks performance, the Skoda Octavia may be worth paying a premium for. However, if you are the prudent type who wants comfort and luxury features, the Hyundai Elantra would be a good choice. Hyundai also has an advantage of service reach too.

Also see: 2013 Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSI VIDEO review

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