Quality of interiors not a major selling point

Consider what experts reviews have had to say of Renault Duster interiors: “The interiors of the Duster are not something that would appeal to you right away. The dashboard and door pads have been redesigned for India, and although it looks straightforward and simple, the plastic finish could be better – there are some rough edges, especially around the steering and horn.”

And the same bunch had this to say of Mahindra XUV500 interiors: “If you’ve been used to plush premium sedans and expect the XUV to satisfy those primary needs, you may not be thrilled by it. We found the plastic used on the document box lid and the tray above the chiller box under the armrest to be quite thin. The longevity of such bits may be an issue. The faux wood also is a bit too shiny.”

Even a cursory look into the insides of sedans priced in the Rs. 7 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh range would be sufficient to make out that these cars have significantly better interiors than either the Renault Duster or Mahindra XUV500.

In fact some cars, such as Elantra, Cruz, Fluence, have rather classy interiors with high quality plastics, leather upholstery and tight shut lines.

In a nutshell, sedans score heavily over Duster and XUV on the quality of interiors.

Mahindra XUV500 and Renault Duster top sales charts

But when it comes to topping the sales charts, the XUV500 and Duster have surged ahead, rather decisively in the case of XUV500:

Mahindra XUV500 vs. Premium sedans

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In the last three months, XUV has sold 4,603, 3,979 and 4007 units respectively. The top selling sedan in the comparable Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 18 lakh segment managed sales of 320, 337 and 501 respectively. Overall, sedans combined managed sales of 1,059 units vis a vis XUV500 sales of 4,603 units in September 2012.

Renault Duster vs. Sedans in the Rs. 7-Rs. 10 lakh range

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Meanwhile, the newly-launched Renault Duster clocked sales of 4,211 units in September 2012. The best-selling sedan Cruze managed only 320. Duster’s closest rival, Mahindra Scorpio, which also lacks high-quality interiors, did 4,064 units in September.

Conclusion: Over the past months, there is definite shift in consumer preference—towards SUVs/MUVs. And the fact that two of the leading SUVs that have taken share away from sedans do not have great, or even comparable interior quality, suggests that the quality of interiors is not really a big factor in buying decision.