India has always been a big market for SUV’s and off-roaders. Funnily enough, people often don’t need to go anywhere to do off-roading, as the roads themselves provide enough of a playing field with enormous potholes and absurd breakers. Jokes aside, there are many manufacturers in the country, which provide proper 4×4 SUVs at an affordable price, if you want an off-roading experience that’s the real McCoy. Here’s a look at some of the best ones.
Maruti Suzuki Gypsy
Much has been said and written about this iconic vehicle. The Gypsy has now reached the end of its life cycle, and is due to be replaced by the Jimny, but enthusiasts still vouch for its amazing off-road capabilities. It features a 1.3-litre petrol engine producing 80 bhp power, 104 Nm torque, and is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. It also has a 4×4 transfer case with both high and low ranges. Both hard-top and soft-top versions are available. With prices starting from Rs. 6.21 lakh, it is easily the cheapest true blue off-roader that one can buy today.
Successor to the iconic Mahindra jeep, the Thar was made with only one purpose in mind, off-roading. This gem of a vehicle takes inclines and slopes in its stride and also offers a 4×4 transfer case with both high and low ranges available. Currently, the Thar is available with two diesel engine options – a 2.5-litre DI with 63 Bhp-180 Nm, and a 2.5-litre CRDe with 105 Bhp-247 Nm. Prices start from Rs. 6.7 lakhs, making the Thar the cheapest diesel 4×4 available in the country.
Again an SUV built only with off-roading in mind, the Gurkha looks the part with its fender-mounted indicators and snorkel exhaust. The car comes with a Mercedes sourced 2.6-litre diesel engine producing 85 Bhp and 230 Nm of torque mated to a 5-speed gearbox. It comes with spartan interiors with the AC unit being the only luxury, but then again, this one’s for true off-roading so that’s justifiable to some extent. What it does come with is differential locks (front and rear) and a 4×4 transfer case, proving its mettle. It retails at Rs. 9.15 lakhs making it a bit costly.
Renault Duster AWD
Renault brought in the all-wheel drive version of the car a bit late but they made sure that its a strong package when it arrives. A capable off-roader in a compact body, the Duster also makes for a good regular car in case you want to use it as your primary car. It comes with a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine producing 108 Bhp of power and 248 Nm of torque and a 6 speed gearbox. Retailing at Rs.12.79 lakh, it’s an attractive option for those who want everyday usability along with some weekend fun.
Isuzu D-Max V-Cross
This car looks butch. It has a real imposing stance and class-leading ground clearance. Since not many manufacturers offer pick-up trucks in the country, Isuzu has a clear advantage here. The D-Max has the necessary kit for a cross-continental trip and then some. It gets powered by an 2.5-litre turbo diesel engine mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox producing 134 bhp and a healthy 320 Nm of torque. Prices start at Rs. 14.31 lakhs making it a smart choice.
Another Mahindra to feature in the list, the Scorpio, is another car which has enough said and written about its capabilities and off-road prowess. It features a 6–speed gearbox paired to a 2.2litre mHawk turbo diesel engine producing 140 bhp and 320 Nm of torque to take on any terrain. The SUV also gets a shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive system and retails at Rs. 16.34 lakhs.
Tata Safari Storme
A direct competitor to the Scorpio, the Safari Storme has been going strong since more than a decade now. It is powered by a 2.2-litre Varicor turbo diesel engine mated to a 6-speed gearbox with 154 Bhp power and 400 Nm torque on tap. The four-wheel drive system is the same Borg Warner unit as the one on the Scorpio. This able-bodied SUV retails at Rs. 15.91 lakhs.
While many may argue that the Hexa is not a true SUV, it for sure has good off-roading manners. We even posted a video on our website, which shows Hexa’s off-roading prowess. While it’s crossover looks may polarise opinions, in terms of performance the Hexa comes with a 2.2-litre engine good enough for a healthy 154 bhp power and 400 Nm of torque. It has a six-speed gearbox and is available both as a six-seat or a seven-seat option. Carrying a price tag of Rs. 17.89 lakhs, this one is a good choice if you have a family.
The XUV500 is the most premium offering from the Mahindra stable and rightfully so. Its imposing body and high ground clearance make it fit for off-roading purposes along with a powerful engine. It also gets a 2.2-litre engine producing 155bhp/320 Nm torque. It also gets both automatic and manual transmissions. The XUV500 AWD retails at a price tag of Rs. 17.85 lakhs.
Though it may be the most expensive SUV on the list and may seat only five, but man, this one is a real gem. Its high sales figures reflect the Compass’ popularity in India. Jeep is a name synonymous with off-roading all over the world and their affordable Indian entry is no different. It looks great, has a powerful motor to boot and can tame any surface you throw at it. It comes with electronic stability control, electronic rollover mitigation, hill start assist, dual airbags and Isofix child-seat mounts on the rear seats. It features a powerful 2-litre diesel engine producing 171 bhp and 350 Nm of torque. Coupled with a six-speed manual gearbox, this one can ride for sure. It is priced at Rs. 21.35 lakh, and though it’s a tad expensive, it definitely is a great SUV.