Hyundai Tucson Diesel MT Vs Skoda Octavia Diesel MT

18th January 2017 IST by

Introduction

Pitting an SUV against a luxury sedan might look like comparing chalk to cheese. But consider a person looking for a diesel automatic SUV in the price bracket of Rs 20-25 lakh whose only option is the recently launched Hyundai Tucson. Since it doesn’t have any direct rivals, we decided to pit it against our favorite D-segment sedan, the Skoda Octavia which is slightly more affordable. Although they look very different, their intended use is the same – to carry five people in comfort and feel luxurious but at the same time be a user friendly everyday town car.

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We are going to judge them purely as products and not by image or body style, because that is very subjective and varies depending on individual preferences.  So which is the better? The hunky Hyundai Tucson or the elegant Skoda Octavia? Read on to find out.

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Exterior

The Hyundai Tucson has got just about the right elements to appeal to someone looking for an SUV. The hexagonal grille, sweptback headlamps with projectors, DRLs and fog lamps are large in proportion to suit the aggressive nature of an SUV. Then the tall stance, chunky sides with flared wheel arches and diamond cut alloy wheels give the car the necessary SUV(ish) character. Similarly with the faux skid plate at the back, sculpted bumpers and tail lamps, the carmaker has got the SUV’s design just right.

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The Skoda Octavia, on the other hand, follows a more subtle styling in comparison to the aggressive lines of the Tucson. Skoda's signature moustache grille, LED DRLs, LED tail lamps speak of the sedan's straight forward design. In this bright vibrant blue colour the Octavia looks really nice without looking over the top.

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Interior

The Tucson’s interior appears familiar as it shares its design with other vehicles in the Hyundai range. That being said, the carmaker has used higher quality materials and this combined with the dual tone interiors makes the cabin pleasant on the eyes. The high quality touch screen, buttons around it and air con controls look good and are easy to operate.

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There is loads of space on the inside and the tall seating position gives a good view of the road ahead. The large seats are comfortable all around thanks to adequate cushioning and back support. In addition, the driver's seat benefits from electric adjustment to find the perfect driving position. The rear seat accommodates three passengers easily and can be reclined. On the downside the rear bench is placed a bit too low and a little more thigh support would have been welcomed.  Storage spaces are plenty and the rear seat can be folded to form a flat bed. The Tucson also gets an automatic tail gate to add to the convenience while loading luggage.

Upon attempting to enter the low slung Octavia’s cabin, you realise you can't easily slip in like in the tall Tucson. But once in, you are welcomed by a plush cabin with superior quality of materials. The fit and finish is top notch and the overall design layout makes for an ergonomic and practical interior. Though the seat cushioning is firmer as compared to the Tucson, the Octavia's rear seat offers more shoulder room and the presence of a sun roof makes it feel more airy. In spite of this, the third person in the Tucson's rear seat will be more comfortable on a long drive as there is more space between the seat and the rear air con vents. Thankfully both cars get rear seats that are flexible enough to maximise the usable space inside.

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As far as boot space is concerned, surprisingly the Octavia has a more useable boot thanks to its hatch opening and the humongous 590-litre boot is very well shaped with minimum intrusions. The Tucson has a big boot too but isn’t as usable as the Skoda.

Hyundai’s are known for being well-equipped and the Tucson is no different. It’s packed with automatic climate control, keyless entry and go, reverse camera and auto headlamps. On the safety front there are six airbags, ABS, EBD, ESP, TC etc. However, the Octavia is better equipped here with eight airbags, a tyre pressure monitoring system, heated ORVMs, rain-sensing wipers and electrically adjustable seats with memory function. All of this, in addition to the standard features on the SUV.

Performance

The Hyundai Tucson's 2.0-litre motor produces 182bhp and 400Nm and is 41bhp more powerful than the Octavia. However, as the sedan is lighter their performance figures are neck to neck. The Octavia sprints to 100kmph in a scant 9.34 seconds as against the 9.15 seconds taken by the Tucson. It’s the same story as far as in-gear times are concerned. Where the Octavia is slightly quicker in the 20-80kmph sprint, the Tucson comes out on top in the 40-100kmph run.

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The Tucson’s refined diesel mill is very responsive, accelerates linearly and builds up speed quickly. The turbo lag isn't pronounced and the six-speed torque converter is quite responsive too. The torque is well spread through the rev band and keeps you going whether you are in the Eco or Sport driving mode. While in the former mode, the gearbox upshifts quickly, the sport mode allows high revs before it shifts to the next gear. One area where the Hyundai engine trounces the Skoda’s diesel mill is in terms of refinement. This engine remains quiet and composed most of the time. It does become vocal near the redline but never to the point of sounding harsh.

The Octavia's 2.0-litre mill produces 141bhp of power and 320Nm of torque. All of this power is nicely put down by the dual-clutch six-speed automatic gearbox. This DSG gearbox is quick and makes the engine with excellent drivability feel a lot peppier. Overtaking becomes easy as the gearbox downshifts and lunges the car ahead with vigor. The throttle response feels better on the Skoda too and the only downside to this proven engine is the sharp clatter which is present all the time.

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The Tucson has a softer suspension set-up, so the SUV has an excellent low-speed ride and absorbs bumps and potholes at ease. However, the car feels bouncy and there is pronounced up and down motion especially at the rear. The body roll too becomes evident here and the 1.6-tonne weight can be felt especially in tight corners or quick directional changes. On the other hand, the Octavia's firmer suspension set-up offers a good ride while nicely soaking up the bumps and rough sections. It does show its limitation when it encounters sharp potholes at low speeds and you will hear a loud thud as the short travel dampers struggle to cope with them. On the flip side, the Octavia is great on the highway with controlled body movement which makes for a great long distance car. Then the handling of the sedan is fantastic and it is fun to throw the Octavia around corners. It offers good grip with the steering being crisp and offering good feedback too.

The Tucson though has an upper hand when the going gets tough. The SUV has a ground clearance of 195mm as against the Octavia's 155mm. The Tucson also benefits from larger 18-inch wheels, while the Octavia sports 16-inch wheels. So while the Octavia can tackle Indian road conditions and speed breakers, the Tucson is equally capable when it comes to overcoming bigger potholes and traversing rough patches effortlessly.

Conclusion          

At the end of the day, it is quite difficult to decide on a winner here, as both these vehicles have a charm of their own. Where the Tucson has the advantage of an SUV like high seating, ground clearance and image, the Octavia is a great driver’s car, with top notch interiors and a very practical cabin. But when you factor in the price the picture becomes clearer. At an ex-showroom Delhi price of Rs 24.99 lakh, the Tucson is very expensive and considering it is a massive Rs 2.35 lakh more than the Skoda Octavia, it becomes hard to justify the extra dough Hyundai is asking for. In our eyes the Skoda Octavia at Rs 22.65 lakh is the one to go for, both in terms of product and VFM proposition.

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Pictures: Kapil Angane

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