Snapshot – Go anywhere generally means sports utility vehicle or SUV. These vehicles come with tough rubber, tall ground clearances and of course, the holy grail of off road performance, a four wheel drive system. Today we’ll take a look at five affordable four wheel drive SUVs in India, ones that offer decent performance, both on and off the road, and of course seating for 7 adults. The more the merrier, you see.
Maruti Suzuki Gypsy
One of the least priced 4X4s in India, the Maruti Suzuki Gypsy is also the oldest 4X4 SUVs in continuous production here. The SUV uses a 1.3 liter petrol engine with 80 Bhp-110 Nm outputs and a five speed manual gearbox, and manual lever shift 4×4 system. Rugged reliability is a strong point of this drive train combination. In terms of suspension, the Gypsy is a jarring ride on roads, transmitting even the slightest imperfections to its occupants. The culprit is the leaf spring suspension set up at the front and the rear, the very layout that gives this off roader its mountain goat reputation. You win some, lose some, but if you want a budget 4X4 that’ll seldom let you down, the Maruti Gypsy is the way to go at an ex-showroom Delhi price of 5.98 lakh rupees. The Gypsy seats 8, two up front, and three each on its bench seats at the rear.
The most affordable diesel powered off roaders, the Thar comes in two flavours – DI and CRDE. The DI 4X4 is a work horse aimed at farm use, and in cities and towns that are yet to hop onto the BS4 emission norms. The DI variant of the Thar uses a 2.5 liter turbo diesel engine with 63 Bhp-195 Nm outputs, just enough to get the job without any fuss and deliver great fuel efficiency while at it. On the other end of the spectrum is the Thar CRDe, which comes only in 4×4 trim, and with a 2.5 liter NEF CRDe turbo diesel motor that makes lusty outputs of 105 Bhp-247 Nm. Both the DI and CRDe variants of the Thar comes configured to seat 7 adults. While the DI variant of the off roader uses leaf springs at the front and the rear, the CRDe version replaces the leaf sprung layout at the front with independent suspension, which is aimed at a comfortable ride on the road. The Thar DI 4X4 is priced at 5.3 lakhs, while the CRDe 4X4 costs 7.69 lakh rupees.
Mahindra Scorpio Facelift
The facelifted Mahindra Scorpio SUV has really widened the choice for off roaders and cross country touring enthusiasts in India, by offering an affordable 4X4 system equipped variant that also gets safety features such as ABS and EBD. The Scorpio Facelift in 4X4 trim with ABS is priced at rupees, ex-showroom Delhi. The SUV uses the 2.2 liter mHawk turbo diesel engine that makes good power and torque – 120 Bhp-280 Nm. A five speed manual gearbox is standard while the Borg Warner transfer case handles four by four functions by means of a center console mounted rotary switch that lets Scorpio drivers shift onto 4X4 on the go. The Scorpio 4X4 seats seven and in facelifted guise, offers more features on the inside. The S4 4X4 ABS variant is priced at 10.84 lakh rupees, while the fully loaded S10 4X4 slots in at 13.45 lakh rupees.
Tata Safari Storme VX 4X4
The Tata Safari Storme VX 4X4 sits at the top of the Safari SUV line up in India, as a flagship ladder frame model that comes with a modicum of off road ability. Massive street presence and a towering driving position are two major selling points of the Storme, which also gets ABS and Airbags, along with the 4X4 mechanism. A spacious 7 seater that is also one of the better built Tata SUVs around, the Storme uses a 2.2 liter turbo diesel engine with outputs rated at 140 Bhp-320 Nm. A five speed manual gearbox drives the rear wheels when the Borg Warner shift-on-the-fly four wheel drive mechanism isn’t engaged. A facelifted version of the Storme is around the corner and the facelift is expected to add features on the inside and effect minor cosmetic changes on the outside. The Safari Storme sells at 14.35 lakh rupees.
Tata Aria 4X4
The Tata Aria 4X4 is technically a crossover whose underpinnings and mechanicals are rugged enough for mild off roading trails. Comfort is the USP of this utility vehicle that seats 7 adults in its cavernous innards. Among the better finished Tata vehicles, the Aria also benefits from a range of safety features and creature comforts, befitting its status as a flagship model in Tata Motors’ range. The crossover uses the 2.2 liter turbo diesel engine of the Storme, in a higher state of tune, 150 Bhp-320 Nm. A five speed manual gearbox and a four wheel drive mechanism are standard fitment on the top-end Pride variant. Like the Storme, the Aria is due for a facelift, one that is expected to add an automatic transmission to the equation. However, the facelift will take its time to arrive, with an end-2015 or 2016 launch on the cards. The Aria 4×4 is priced at 15.43 lakh rupees, but hefty discounts are the order of the day. Negotiate hard!