With SUVs being all rage, almost all automakers have added SUVs across the price range. Given that most auto sales in India are in the sub-Rs. 10 lakh bracket, there are plenty of compact SUVs to choose from.
But are they good to drive? Aren’t SUVs, with a higher centre of gravity, loose out on a fun-to-drive factor. Well, to some extent they do. But the compact SUVs in India have two things going for them: one, they aren’t really as tall as proper SUVs and two, they come with engines that are more powerful than ones used in premium hatchbacks and compact sedans. So, if you are after fun-to-drive compact SUVs, what are your options:
Hyundai was the last manufacturer to join the compact SUV race with the Venue. Amongst its line-up is the excellent Turbo variant which combines a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with a fast-shifting 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission. The engine is enthusiastic and rev-happy while the transmission is smooth shifting. The precise steering, automatic transmission that comes with manual mode and confidence-inspiring brakes add to the sporty feel of the Venue. The power output of the Venue is 120 Bhp and is delivered in a linear manner while the torque output is rated at 170 Nm. Venue Turbo DCT is priced at Rs. 9.6 lakhs, ex-showroom.
Tata recently updated the turbo petrol engine on the Nexon and now it produces a max power output of around 120bhp and a peak torque output of 170Nm. Being a Tata, it comes loaded with safety tech and solid build quality. The engine is smooth and power in the mid-range is strong. With the BS6 version, Tata has also improved the build quality of the interior by a good margin. Nexon also comes with different drive modes which alter the engine response. Tata Nexon starts from Rs. 6.95 lakhs, ex-showroom.
When it comes to the ride and handling department there is no better compact SUV than the Ford Ecosport. Ford Ecosport has been the best compact SUV when you consider the driving dynamics. The 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine is very responsive and loves to rev all the way to its red-line. It produces a max power output of 121bhp and a peak torque output of 150Nm. The engine comes with a slick-shifting 5-speed manual gearbox. Ecosport’s motor is refined and the power delivery is smooth. The ride quality is on a bit of stiffer side but it is not uncomfortable and because of this stiffness, the compact SUV is a lot of fun to drive on hilly roads. Ford Ecosport starts from Rs. 8.04 lakhs, ex-showroom.
Mahindra XUV 300
Mahindra introduced their all-new turbocharged mStallion petrol engines which comes with direct injection at the Auto Expo 2020. The XUV 300 will soon be launched with a Sportz variant that will feature their all-new 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Once launched, the XUV 300 will be the most powerful compact SUV available in the Indian market. The new engine will be producing 130hp and a peak torque output of 230Nm. The engine will be paired with a 6-speed manual transmission.
If you consider yourself a driving enthusiast these are some of the picks for you. All of these compact SUVs are powerful and provide a great driving experience. They will let you have some fun when you come on a winding section of a road and will definitely bring a smile on your face.