The past couple of years have been quite exciting for the Indian automotive industry and its customers. While we have seen a lot of new entrants in the sedan and hatchback sections, we’ve also seen considerable growth in the SUV segment, and particularly the sub-segment of the compact SUV.
Mahindra launched its uber-cool SUV, the XUV500 a while back which has managed to leave many of us with our mouths wide open at its stunning design and powerful performance. But 2012 saw the XUV500 getting competition from Renault’s entrant, the Duster – a more affordable yet stylish option. 2013 promises to take the competition even higher with Ford promising to bring out its own compact SUV, the EcoSport by early next yet. So we’re taking a look at what makes each of these a worthy choice to help you pick the right one for you.
Mahindra XUV500: We start with this one because it’s been around for the longest time. We love its beast-like strong looks. With the amazing headlamp design and its string of parking LEDs underneath, they say it’s cheetah-inspired and with just a look, we can tell why. We also love the broad rear end which does give us a bit of a Toyota Fortuner feel, adding to its impression of being a large, powerful beast on the roads. We also love its little details like the stylish door knobs and integrated side indicators on the side view mirrors. The XUV500 is the most expensive of the three – starting at Rs. 11 lakh for the base model and going up to Rs. 14 lakh.
The XUV500 has three rows of seats, giving it a higher seating capacity that the other contenders being featured here. A two-tone color scheme for the interiors gives an overall soothing appeal, while the leather quality is top-notch and gives it a premium feel. The XUV500 also has an interesting lounge lighting, which adds to the ambient charm. We love its special storage compartment for laptop, voice activated control center, navigation system, a music system that is iPod-compatible, cruise control, rain sensing wipers, and foldable rear seats.
Mahindra uses the same mHawk140 engine for the XUV500 and the Scorpio, which is a direct fuel injection 5th generation one, capable of putting out a maximum power of 140 bhp at 3750 rpm and maximum torque of 330 Nm at 1600-2800 rpm. A 6-speed manual transmission takes the XUV500 from 0 to 100 in 13.5 seconds and gives it a top speed of 175 kmph. The XUV500 gives a mileage of 11.5 kmpl on city roads and up to 15.1 kmpl on highways.
Renault Duster: Next we come to the Renault Duster. We love its overall look, which looks both rugged and dynamic at once. It has a fairly distinct curvy exterior, quite unlike the other SUVs around on the road currently, and its massive bumpers just add to the charm. Its sporty roof rails and alloy wheels make us want to trek into the woods at once with the Duster, and with a ground clearance of 210 mm, we know we won’t have to worry about any rocks scraping the underside during our outdoor trip. It also keeps the Duster comfortably safe from the potholes found all over Indian roads. Renault Duster starts at Rs 7.49 lakh for the base model and goes up to Rs 11.69 lakh for the highest version.
The insides of the Duster is done up completely in shades of black, which adds to its sporty look. 5 large-sized people can sit comfortably within and you still have lots of storage space in the boot, especially when taking road trips. Renault Duster comes with standard features like power steering, power windows with illuminated switches, AC with climate control, and even a Bluetooth enabled music system. Other unique features include a rear parcel shelf for storage, armrest with cup holder in the rear seat, an 8-way adjustable driver’s seat, foldable front passenger seat, leather seats, rear defogger, and rear wipers.
Pop up the hood and you will find a 1.5 liter dCi diesel engine, with a maximum power of 110 bhp at 4000 rpm and maximum torque of 240 Nm at 1750 rpm. The petrol model comes with a 1598 cc DOHC engine, spewing out maximum power of 105 bhp at 5750 rpm and peak torque of 148 Nm at 3750 rpm. Both models are equipped with a manual five speed gearbox. It takes just 11.8 seconds to take the Duster from 0 to 100 kmph, while it maxes out at 164 kmph. You can expect a mileage in the range of 13-20 km per liter of fuel, depending on driving conditions.
Ford EcoSport: And finally we take a look at the upcoming wonder, the Ford EcoSport. Ford has taken a cue from its bestseller, the Fiesta, and featured a similar looking chrome grille in the EcoSport. However, that’s where the similarity with a sedan ends; for the EcoSport’s massive bumper design gives it a monster truck look. It’s designed in an aerodynamic manner to maximize fuel efficiency, an especially important concern of every Indian automotive owner. The EcoSport also features clear headlamps with parking LEDs and fog lamps. We still have no word from Ford on the pricing, but we are hoping that the EcoSport will cost less than Rs 10 lakh.
The Ford EcoSport manages to look compact from the outside, but is rather roomy within. Careful detailing of the interior with gray trimmings on beige upholstery gives it an expensive look, while storage space remains abundant throughout. Ford has put in many exciting features in the EcoSport, including remote operated door opening and closing, power windows, an advanced music system, foldable rear seats, storage space under passenger seat, cooled glove box, AC with automatic climate control, and voice controls.
Underneath the hood of the EcoSport is a 1.0 liter turbocharged ecoBoost petrol engine, which gives it a maximum power of 120Ps at 6000 rpm and peak torque of 160 Nm at 2000-2750 rpm. The diesel model comes fitted with a 1.5 liter TDCi Turbo engine, giving it a maximum power of 80 Ps at 3750 rpm and the same maximum torque as the petrol version. While we do not know about the gearbox of the EcoSport, we hope Ford would fit either a 5-speed gearbox or a 6-speed Powershift automatic gearbox. The EcoSport can go from 0 to 100 in 16 seconds and give a top speed of 160 kmph. Expect the fuel efficiency to be around 16 kmpl, as per Ford’s claims.