Battle of the rough roaders: Mahindra Bolero vs Tata Sumo Grande

The Mahindra Bolero and the Tata Sumo Grande are not vehicles you will spot quite easily in the hustle and bustle of the metros. But step out of the city and you’ll find the landscape dotted with these vehicles, often packed to the roof with people and luggage.

Incidentally the Mahindra Bolero is India’s largest-selling utility vehicle, selling over 8000 units a month, while the Tata Sumo sells about 3,200 a month. What makes these utility vehicles so popular? And why does the Bolero consistently outsell the Sumo? We take a look. Also read: Top 5 MUVs with best performance in India

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Where the Mahindra Bolero is better

Rugged appeal

The Bolero is based on the age-old Jeep chassis, which has seen refinement and development over the years. This gives it a rugged appeal. Part of the reason Bolero’s continue to sell is because of the familiarity with the vehicle, where customers have transitioned from long-wheel base MM650s and Mahindra Commanders to the Bolero. The Tata Sumo Grande is a relatively more modern iteration when compared to the Bolero, although the Sumo too has a ladder frame chassis based on the Tata 207.

Price advantage

The Mahindra Bolero is cheaper to purchase and run than the Tata Sumo Grande. The base SLE variant of the Bolero costs about Rs. 6.50 lakh, while the Tata Sumo Grande CX base variant is about Rs. 7.20 lakh ex-showroom.  The top-end Bolero ZLX costs Rs. 7.17 lakh, while the top-end Sumo Grande GX costs Rs. 8.85 lakh, ex-showroom. Clearly, the Bolero has a nearly Rs. 70,000 price advantage at the base variant level and a Rs. 1.6 lakh ex-showroom price difference on the top-end variants, giving it an even bigger advantage when you look at on-road prices.

Better ride and handling

The Mahindra Bolero is not the best handling vehicle, but then neither is the Tata Sumo Grande. The Bolero though, even with its rudimentary leaf spring rear suspension and independent coil-spring front suspension has a slightly better handling advantage over the Tata Sumo Grande. The Bolero is less prone to body roll and the suspension is a lot stiffer, giving it the ability to handle bad roads better without upsetting passengers too much.

The Sumo Grande also has leaf springs at the rear and double wishbone independent front suspension set up. However, the suspension is softer and the tall dimensions of the vehicle make it more prone to body roll. It also gets a bit more bouncy than the Bolero over bad surfaces, although neither are that comfortable.

Fuel economy

For all its ruggedness the Mahindra Bolero is quite fuel efficient as well, and that’s another big point in its favour. The vehicle has a claimed efficiency of 15 kmpl and it’s not uncommon to find Bolero owners reporting that mileage on highway drives, while city commutes return about 13 kmpl. The Tata Sumo Grande too has a claimed efficiency of 14 kmpl, with real-world figures of about 12 kmpl, slightly lower than the Bolero. Also read: Maruti Ertiga or Toyota Innova?

Where the Tata Sumo Grande is better

Engine and performance

The Tata Sumo Grande is powered by a 2.2 litre common-rail diesel engine that puts out 118 bhp of power and 250 Nm of torque. This is mated to a five-speed manual transmission driving the rear wheels. However, it has a fairly high kerb weight of 1940 Kg (almost 2 tons), which means all that power isn’t worth much. The Mahindra Bolero has a 2.5 litre diesel engine that puts out just 63 bhp of power and 195 Nm of torque. This too has a five-speed manual transmission driving the rear wheels (you also get a 4×4 option on one variant), and it has a lighter kerb weight of 1575 Kg. However, the Bolero has very little turbo-lag and torque comes in quite early compared to the Sumo, but once speed builds up, it is the Sumo that has an advantage – especially on highway drives, as it has a better top-end speed and cruising ability.

Space and comfort

The Tata Sumo Grande has a much larger body than the Mahindra Bolero, which translates to much better interior space and seating comfort. The Sumo Grande is available a all-forward facing 8-seater or a 9 seater with side facing jump seats in the rear. The Bolero comes as a seven-seater mainly, and space is cramped in the middle row as well as the boot area. The position of the Bolero’s driver’s seat and steering wheel too is slightly offset, while in the Sumo Grande it feels more comfortable, with better shoulder-room and legroom.

Where both are similar

Features

Both vehicles offer a similar set of features or lack of it. Neither of them come with safety features such as ABS or airbags. Both vehicles offer power-windows, central locking, power-steering and manual air-conditioning on variants. The top-end Bolero ZLX now comes with a digital instrument cluster, rear wiper and defogger as well. The Sumo Grande also has rear-fog lamps.

What we think

The Mahindra Bolero may not be as spacious or as powerful as the Tata Sumo Grande, but when it comes to the factors that matter to a utility vehicle customer, it scores well. It scores better on mileage, ride comfort, simplicity of mechanicals and most importantly, price, which is what makes it so popular in tier II cities and rural India. The Sumo Grande is a bit too expensive for the kind of value it offers, because at the price of a Sumo Grande, you can also consider a Mahindra Scorpio or even stretch to a Tata Safari. Also read: Tata Sumo Gold vs Mahindra Bolero ZLX

Share your thoughts on which is better and why – the Tata Sumo Grande or the Mahindra Bolero.