Petrol prices have been cut by a rupee and a half yet again, and the price differential between petrol and diesel fuels is at a historic low in India. CNG is now a more economical option for folks whose major running is mainly on city streets. Diesel car sales have slowed down with petrol powered cars making a big comeback in the lower, more price sensitive segments and Market leader Maruti Suzuki is embracing the change.
While SUVs have traditionally been diesel burners, the new crop of compact SUVs from Maruti Suzuki aim to change status quo by offering buyers the option of petrol and CNG power, in addition to turbo diesel engine options. The upcoming S-Cross crossover – due for an early 2015 launch – and the XA Alpha compact SUV – due for a 2016 launch – will both get petrol, CNG and diesel engine options, in what seems to be a segment defining move.
With most new-age urban crossovers such as the Renault Duster and the Ford EcoSport being pre-dominantly used on city streets, Maruti Suzuki’s decision to opt for petrol and CNG power on its upcoming compact SUVs isn’t surprising in the least. The car maker has always been one of the most responsive to market changes, and the tilt in preference towards petrol power clearly has Maruti Suzuki responding to buyer preferences quickly.
The S-Cross crossover uses a 1.6 liter petrol motor on its international version and the same motor is likely to be offered in India. This engine is also likely to be tweaked to work on CNG, with the car featuring dual-fuel functionality. Since the S-Cross measures over 4 meters in length, Maruti Suzuki can use a wide range of petrol and turbo diesel engines without being constrained by excise duty considerations.
The XA-Alpha on the other hand, is a sub-4 meter car, designed to take the fight to the Ford EcoSport’s doors. Therefore, the petrol engine of the XA-Alpha, which will also get a CNG option, will need to be tailored to fit within the 1.2 liter engine displacement cap for sub-4 meter cars seeking excise duty concessions in India. The turbo diesel engine on the XA Alpha is likely to be the well established 1.3 liter Fiat Multijet motor.