Compact SUVs are going to be the next big thing in the Indian car market. Every car maker is trying to foray into this segment.

Maruti Suzuki has already kick started a compact MPV segment by launching the Ertiga. During the second half of 2012, we expect Renault to launch the Duster and by early 2013, Ford will launch the EcoSport.


Let’s discuss how the three utility vehicles stack up against each other based on the limited information we have on the EcoSport and the Duster.

new renault duster

Photo: The Duster is a classy compact SUV which may change the game for Renault in India

Engines and performance

First, let’s compare the diesel engines of the Ertiga, EcoSport and the Duster. The Ertiga is powered by the 1.3-litre DDiS motor (same as in SX4 diesel) that puts out 89 Bhp and has a claimed mileage of 20.77 Kmpl. The Duster diesel will be powered by a 1.5-litre dCI motor with two states of power outputs: 85 Bhp and 110 Bhp. Also Read: Renault Duster launch postponed to October 2012!

The EcoSport diesel may have a 1.5-litre motor (same as in Fiesta diesel) that puts out puts out 89.7 Bhp of power.  Hence, the Duster diesel with its 110 Bhp engine will most likely perform better than the Ertiga and EcoSport. Further, the Duster (110 Bhp) will likely come with a 4×4 system and could attract off-road enthusiasts as well.

Coming to the petrol engines, the Ertiga gets an all new 1.4-litre K-series petrol motor that puts out 94 Bhp, the EcoSport petrol will come with a 1-litre, 3-cylinder, ‘EcoBoost’ engine that puts out 118 Bhp of power while the Duster petrol will likely come with a 1.6-litre motor that puts out 105 Bhp of power. Obviously, the EcoSport will high power specification should perform better than the Duster and the Ertiga.

Summing up, if it is diesel, the Duster (110 Bhp engine) can be expected to gain some advantage over the EcoSport and Ertiga. If it is petrol, the EcoSport is sure to outperform the Duster and the Ertiga.

ertiga front left

Photo: The Ertiga is the most flexible of the lot being a compact MPV with seven seats

Space and comfort

First things first, the Ertiga is a seven seater unlike the Duster and EcoSport which are five seaters. The EcoSport is the most compact vehicle as it measures less than four meters, unlike the Ertiga and the Duster. Hence, if you are actually looking for a ‘mini’ utility vehicle, it is the EcoSport. Also read: Nissan Sunny XL vs. Maruti Suzuki Ertiga ZDi: Buy the sedan, or the mini-MPV?

Comfort wise, the Ertiga feels plushy and can easily seat five occupants while the third row is usable by two adults of average size and children. The EcoSport and Duster can be expected to offer good all round comfort for five passengers.

With all the three rows occupied, the Ertiga has very small luggage space and hence the third row has to be folded to carry more luggages. Overall, the EcoSport, Duster and Ertiga (with third row folded) will likely have similar boot space.

ford ecosport front

Photo: The Ecosport is the most attractive looking mini SUV in this comparison

Looks

When it comes to looks, the EcoSport is the most attract among the three utility vehicles. The chrome rich wide gap radiator grille and dual tone body cladding gives the EcoSport, a sporty look. The side profile has shoulder line slightly rising at the rear when it merges into the C-pillar. The spare wheel mounted to the centre of the boot door gives the EcoSport, a proper SUV look and manages to hide its sub-four meter dimensions.

The Duster looks conventional, but when compared to other SUVs in Indian roads, it has its own unique design. The high ground clearance, roof rails and protruding wheel arches give the Duster a muscular appeal.

The Ertiga carries the design cues of the Swift and the Ritz. Though it looks sporty when compared to other large MPVs, it falls short only when compared against aggressive looking EcoSport.

Summing up, we feel that the EcoSport is the most appealing UV followed by the Duster followed by the Ertiga.

Price, mileage and VFM

If there is one factor that will likely bind the Ertiga, EcoSport and the Duster, it is the price range. The Ertiga is priced between Rs. 5.89 lakh – Rs. 8.45 lakh.  The EcoSport and Duster are expected to be priced in the range of Rs. 7 lakh – Rs. 10 lakh.

That said, the EcoSport, Duster and Ertiga which belong to compact utility vehicles segment will squarely aim at potential buyers looking for sedans in the Rs. 6 – Rs. 10 lakh segment that includes a host of cars such as Toyota Etios, Nissan Sunny, Honda City, Hyundai Verna etc.

With regard to mileage, the EcoSport petrol with its EcoBoost engine (1-litre, 3-cylinder), may have a slight edge over the Ertiga (1.4-litre) petrol and the Duster (1.6-litre) petrol.  Among the diesel variants, the Ertiga, Duster and EcoSport may likely return similar mileage.

The Ertiga has already been priced brilliantly, making it a better VFM when compared to its rivals such as the Xylo and the Innova. But, it is yet to be known if the EcoSport and the Duster can aggressive pricing to beat the Ertiga. Also read: Ford EcoSport launch postponed to 2013

Summary

The Ford EcoSport and the Renault Duster will kick-start a new compact SUV segment just like how the Ertiga kick-started the compact MPV segment.  While Ertiga will appeal more to the buyers looking for a compact seven seater with low maintenance costs and wide service backup, the EcoSport and Duster will likely attract urban youngsters who would like to drive SUVs instead of sedans or mini MPVs.