How Hyundai Creta’s rivals plan to keep a check on its success

What’s there in the Hyundai Creta that the Korean manufacturer managed to sell a little above 6.7 thousand examples (6783 units, to be exact)of the newest compact SUV? It’s not an unprecedented number – the Dzire clocked almost four times the number during the same month – but for a relatively new and small segment, it’s very good indeed.

But how does the competition stack up? The closest rival, the Renault Duster, stood at 1,005 units, while the larger Mahindra Scorpio managed 3,381 units, and the Bolero (which doesn’t compete with the Creta directly) fell short of the 6,000 sales figure mark by just 98 units.

Much like fashion, car designs can come and go. Obviously, it must be taken into account that evergreen designs stay, er, evergreen. But think about the ones that are trendy – the ones that are ‘in’ – become less interesting as they become old. It’s too soon to say if the Creta falls in the category, but the novelty factor is currently with it.

The EcoSport has started to look dated; the Duster and Terrano both are very simple designs; and let’s face it, the Bolero is getting old, too. And what about the Scorpio? Well, it’s almost a year old now, and is slowly settling into steady sales figures. It’s no denying that Creta’s launch has hampered the sales, and it will take some time for the Creta to get into steady sales.

So how does the competition plan to make a comeback, let’s have a model-wise analysis for that:

Mahindra XUV500

2015 Mahindra XUV500 Facelift 11

Recently updated, the XUV500 features a couple of improvements over the previous model (except the puddle lamps, which blows subtlety away), so it doesn’t really have a lot to do. Inclusion of an automatic gearbox is awaited, and will certainly widen the vehicle’s appeal. Mahindra is yet to announce the arrival of the same, although the automatic gearbox equipped variant of the new Scorpio was added to the line up recently.

Unlike the Creta, the XUV500 is a full-size SUV, so it handles bad roads and even no roads a bit better. The considerably larger engine, and the ability to seat seven is something the Creta will not be able to match.

Renault Duster and Nissan Terrano

2015 Renault Duster SUV Facelift Front

It might have kick-started the craze for compact SUVs but the Duster’s sales have seen some massive drops – first when the EcoSport was launched two years ago, and now with the introduction of the Creta. It works well as a product, in terms of looks, driveability, and performance, but doesn’t fare well in terms of interior quality and design – something that the Creta excels.

The company is reported to be testing the facelifted version of the Duster, which should freshen things up a bit. And the same can be expected for the Nissan Terrano – which shares its underpinnings with the Duster – as well.

But that is not all. Another segment first is the fact that the Creta is offered with an automatic gearbox with the diesel engine. Renault, aware of the market preference, isn’t expected to continue resting on its laurels. A dual-clutch automatic – which too will be a segment first! – is likely to be offered on the 110PS diesel variant, suggest initial web reports.

As far as the Terrano is concerned, it’s newer than the Duster (by about a year), so a facelift isn’t necessarily on the cards, but a mild update should bump the sales figures a bit. And unlike the AWD drivetrain (and updated suspension on the same variant) that didn’t make it to the Terrano, the automatic gearbox could, largely because that will go well with the premium image of the vehicle.

Ford EcoSport

2014 Ford EcoSport Limited Edition

Another facelift is on its way, and that’s of the Ford EcoSport. In terms of specs and engine choices, the EcoSport has its bases covered, but where it lacks is space and driving dynamics. The former can’t really be changed but the latter is said to have improved in the EcoSport facelift that went on sale in the UK recently. The changes made to the suspension and steering systems are likely to make it to the Indian versions along with the facelift.

Another vital change is the option to spec the vehicle without the tailgate mounted spare wheel. That’s unlikely to be an option in case of the EcoSport in India, not only because a spare wheel is necessary, but because the market likes the pseudo SUV image the vehicle offers, and without the wheel hanging off its back, it won’t look as ‘rugged’.

A few updates to the interior, including a new screen for the SYNC infotainment system, will keep things fresh on the inside. The drop in ground clearance made to the European variant is not favourable to the Indian market (and road conditions), so rule that out, too.

What do we think?

It’s going to be very interesting to see the Creta compete with its updated rivals, because they will then be better matched to the newest king of the segment. Although it’s too young to don that crown yet…

Maruti Suzuki S-Cross is another rival, which, launched a day ago, might seem a bit out of place amidst some of its pseudo SUV rivals. It’s priced close to the Hyundai Creta, but offers a more car-like appearance, better spec (in terms of safety, at least) base versions, and the newest Fiat Multijet-based engine in the country: the 1.6-litre DDiS 320 that makes 120PS and 320Nm of torque.