Choosing between an MPV and a compact SUV

If you had to choose between a multi-purpose vehicle and a compact sport-utility vehicle, which one would you prefer? Well, the answer to this question is need based. Think of a buyer trying to pick between a Maruti Ertiga, a Mahindra Quanto or Xylo and a Renault Duster. Let’s take a look at how they meet different buyer needs.
Choosing between an MPV and a compact SUV


Who should buy an MPV

–          If you have a large family, with the need to use six to seven seats regularly

–          If your use is primarily restricted to the city or to highway runs

–          If you prefer car-like handling rather than increased ground clearance and rough road ability

–          If you want a vehicle that’s versatile enough to carry seven passengers and be converted to a load carrying vehicle for luggage when needed.

–          If you want more fuel-efficiency rather than raw engine power

–          If you value practicality over looks

A multi-purpose or multi-utility vehicle is usually based on a car platform or a van platform that can be used to ferry people in comfort, rather than for rough road ability, with the flexibility to carry luggage as needed. Typical examples of multi-purpose vehicles in India include the Mahindra Quanto, Maruti Ertiga, Toyota Innova, Mahindra Xylo and Tata Aria. Also read: How to decide if an MPV is right for you


Choosing between an MPV and a compact SUV


Who should buy a compact SUV

–          If you have a typically outdoor lifestyle or that’s an image you want to portray

–          If you value looks over practicality

–          If you want a vehicle with high-ground clearance and big tyres to drive over rough terrain

–          If you want the option of a four-wheel drive system for even better off-road capability

–          If your passenger carrying needs are restricted to five people at the most

–          If you want a vehicle with road-presence to move around easily in city traffic


Typically, sport-utility vehicles were derived from pick-up trucks on which a cabin was added and comfort features built in. However, modern compact SUVs are built on car platforms, but have the ground clearance, suspension, tyres and other components strengthened and made bigger to be able to withstand harsher driving conditions. While full-size SUVs in India include the Mahindra Scorpio, Tata Safari, Ford Endeavour, Toyota Fortuner and others.  Compact SUVs – that are essentially five seaters include the Renault Duster, upcoming Ford EcoSport and Skoda Yeti under Rs. 20 lakh. Also read: Compact SUVs vs sedans

Maruti Ertiga vs Renault Duster

For a moment to put these needs in perspective, let’s take a look at how an MPV and a compact SUV would appeal to a buyer. Let’s look at the Maruti Ertiga and Renault Duster and see how they stack up. Both vehicles are based on car platforms that have evolved into an MPV (Ertiga) and SUV (Duster). The Ertiga, like the Duster, comes in both petrol and diesel variants. The Ertiga is priced between Rs. 5.9 lakh for the base petrol to Rs. 8.5 lakh for the top-end diesel. This makes it a lot cheaper than the Duster.

In terms of practicality for a person looking for seven seats, the Ertiga scores. But for a person looking for a five seater and luggage space for camping equipment the Duster is better, although the Ertiga could be used too, with the last row folded. But the Duster with its better ground clearance and stiffer suspension would be better on bad roads. In terms of engine power, the Duster mid-variant and the Ertiga are similarly matched (Ertiga diesel puts out 89 bhp of power and 200 Nm torque), while the petrol Duster and top-end diesel are more powerful than the Ertiga. In terms of looks the Duster scores with its better road presence and muscular stance, while the Ertiga blends into traffic and looks like an elongated hatchback. The Duster does not have 4×4 in India, but the same vehicle gets this system abroad. The Duster 4×4 will most likely be launched next year in India. Also read: Renault Duster vs Maruti Ertiga, which one’s for you?

The Ertiga would therefore suit a buyer who is more interested in carrying 6-7 people in comfort, mainly on well-surfaced roads. The Duster would appeal more to buyers who aren’t looking at people-carrying capacity, but want a vehicle that can traverse varied terrain and carry a fair bit of luggage too. Also read: Renault Duster vs the world

Tell us, if you had to pick between an MPV and a compact SUV, what would be your reasons for choosing either one of them?