The executive luxury class for sedans in India is predominantly a diesel driven thrust. Don’t believe us, then SIAM statistics stating that about 63 percent of the cars sold in this category are diesels. Except for Honda, the rest of the manufacturers have got their oil burning engines out here. We at Indiandrives are comparing the long forgotten and due for a replacement Hyundai Sonata Transform in India along with the Skoda Laura in India and the Volkswagen Jetta in India. Of this, the latter two are related and are blood cousins with both now sharing the same engine and rolling off the same plant in Chakan. The Sonata Transform is a lost kid in this package and hence starts with a disadvantage. However without being biased, we pit it against the Skoda Laura (the highest selling car in this segment) and the Volkswagen Jetta. Looks As far as that department goes, none of the cars can be called as good lookers. This might change with the advent of the new Sonata in India however its launch is sometime away. The present one shows none of the Fluidic Concept language that its lower siblings so amply demonstrate. The chrome laced grille and the chunky fog lamps don’t ccut the mustard in this age of graceful lines. Its head lamp cluster is also more on the traditional lines and isn’t much of a difference from the Sonata Embera. The Sonata has been closely following the European culture however one feels that it looks more on the Japanese side compared to the others in this comparison. The Volkswagen Jetta is the one which isn’t seen much on the roads and hence warrants a second glance towards it. However its sobre looking face wouldn’t attract any attention thereon. The Skoda Laura is the all too famous car in this segment and we would be surprised if too many heads turn its way as well. Infact, it is one of the cars in this segment which has actually become ubiquitous with the huge sales that it rakes up for Skoda Auto India. The 215/60 R-16 alloy wheel size for the Hyundai is standard fare while the ones in the Jetta and Laura are no different. We are actually shocked as to why manufacturers don’t bring in attractive alloy wheels to the equation. For this, the manufacturers have to say that the buyers in this segment actually want familiar looks and are not ready to go with radical designs. Point taken. That explains the somber looks for all three cars here. Out on the backside though, the Jetta is the most innovative with its circular elements tail lamps whereas the Laura has that traditional Skoda design which has been carried over from the first generation Laura in India. The Transform also doesn’t boast of a radical design for the rear. It however in its attempt to mimic the Accord looks much more American than the others. Its twin tail pipe configuration endows it with a sporty feel. The Germans however wash their hands off any show off in the exteriors and hence make do without any significant tail pipe protrusions. Well, we hate to give it to the outgoing Jetta however it is the one which wins this beauty round and well it wasn’t a miss World contest but rather a Mrs World thing which was been conducted amongst this car. Take your choice from either the Sonata or Laura as they seem the same. Interiors This is where every car differs and even the Laura and Jetta. First up is the Hyundai Sonata Transform in India with its seats which feel more like comfortable arm chairs. The layered leather seats are the epitome of comfort and needless to say, the interiors look way more upmarket than the earlier Sonata. The part wood part leather wrapped steering wheel may not be to every one’s liking however we at Indiandrives feel that it’s a nice touch. The visible surfaces feel soft to touch and hence impart the luxury feel which is very important in this class. Wood trim for the central console also feels the part. However the small fonts for the automatic climate control and its lack of intuitiveness make it a difficult piece to deal with. However the Sonata delights with its usage of space by providing many storage places as also cubby holes. The instrument cluster however is a neat feature and doesn’t take much figuring out. However like the start stop button which is given in the new Verna, the Transform doesn’t have one. It is said that the 2011 version which would be out shortly would feature this. Unfortunately only the driver gets an electric assist for this seat. Out at the rear, the Hyundai Sonata Transform can carry 3 passengers in ease. However the rear seats lose the fine touch which the front seats have built for themselves. In the process of becoming over comfortable, the rear seats don’t have enough of support for the lower back region. Hyundai has provided this car with a seat belt adjuster as well. The Volkswagen Jetta in India which is due for a major upgrade both in the exteriors as also interiors delights with its all black theme for the interiors. The steering wheel looks carried over from the Vento and Polo. However it has audio controls on it. The multi information display would stand out to be a novelty for people who haven’t been in a Volkswagen car before. The Audio system provided is a touch screen unit and it helps that it is easy to figure out the controls as well. The Jetta’s seats however take a bit of fidgeting before one can easily fit into them. The rear seats however are a bit more comfortable than the Sonata’s however even their back rest angle is a bit awkward. Fit and finish of materials is as per the usual Volkswagen standards and that means a very high quality is maintained overall. The Skoda Laura in India is a welcome relief from the Volkswagen Jetta. Its interiors would also make one believe that this is actually a Volkswagen unit car, which it actually is. The instrument cluster looks very much the same as the one on the Jetta however there is a slight difference with the thing that the ones on the Laura are a bit more easier to read whereas the one on the Jetta are more informative. The Skoda also comes better equipped than the Jetta and in this case, it gets more goodies like a powered driver and passenger seat, Bluetooth controls and stuff. The rear bench is also the more comfortable out of the two here. While Hyundai offers a remote control for the music system for the rear seat passengers, the other do make do without it. All the cars in this comparison get 60:40 split seating arrangement and this makes carrying luggage an easy chore. The boot space is also ample in all the three however the one in the Laura is a bit marred by the suspension intrusions. The Korean build quality however cannot be a patch on the quality of materials used for other two Germans. The Laura’s interiors win one over with their overall feel and equipment. The Hyundai’s feel the most dated with the Jetta just about preceding it. Handling and ride quality Both the Skoda Laura and the Volkswagen Jetta share the same platform and hence share most of their underpinnings as well. However both have been setup in a different way as far as their ride and handling characteristics are concerned. It is the Jetta which turns out to be dynamically more competent than the Laura. The Laura gets a complex stiff suspension setup which boasts of having a lower triangular link with McPherson struts in the front and a rear axle which carries multi elements with transverse links numbering three. The Jetta’s suspension is also on the same line however it has been tuned more towards being comfortable rather than go outright for race track duties. While the Laura would skip a beat or two while going over a hump, the Jetta is more about calm composure. The Jetta is the more willing of the two while turning around in a corner. Best part is that the 16 inch wheels of the Jetta have a fatter section of tyres attached to them than the Laura or the Sonata. The Laura is no bad handler but then the Jetta edges it out a wee bit. Steering feel in both the cars is more on the linear side and there is no distinguishing between them on this count. The Hyundai Sonata is setup to be only comfortable. It has a ride quality in this party which no one can match and at the same time possess a handling trait which no other car would want to have and that is of reluctant behavior. Yes, the Sonata would ride well over potholes and carry its passengers in supreme comfort however point its nose towards a corner and the Sonata would shy away from it. The steering wheel is also typically Hyundai with its lack of feel. Infact, it’s a joke that most of the Hyundai cars across the world are boats save for the Genesis coupe found in North America. Typically all the engines have a quiet characteristic here however the dated Hyundai engine makes lot of noise. It is only when it crosses speeds above 80 that the engine becomes really noisy. Out of the two cousins, it would be the Jetta which is noisier than the Laura. Out of the trio, the Volkswagen Jetta acquits itself with a good ride quality while the Hyundai Sonata only looks forward to having a good ride and the Skoda Laura feels hemmed in between both.