New Delhi: The recently concluded Auto Expo has presented to auto lovers a whole new set of car models, that only go to making the car buying decision that much more difficult!
Murad Ali Baig, auto expert and columnist
You can now get yourself one of over 35 very attractive Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV’s) or more utilitarian Utility Vehicles (UV’s). These range from a few powerful and luxurious foreign (CBU) exotics to more plebian local vehicles.
Last year, India bought about 350,000 UV’s and SUV’s so we can expect the new improved products with responsive and efficient new engines and features to further accelerate market growth.
All these SUV’s offer the comfort and luxuries of a sleek saloon, the performance to take you over the roughest roads and a commanding road presence guaranteed to turn the heads of people who want to see who the lucky person behind the wheel is.
In the range below Rs12 lakh the top seller is no SUV but the 102 bhp Toyota Innova that is an amazingly comfortable people mover, or UV, capable of handling some fairly bad roads. It faces competition from the 80 bhp Chevrolet Tavera, the Mahindra Scorpio that is a SUV and the cheaper Bolero UV as well as from Tata’s Safari SUV and the Sumo Victa UV.
The long awaited 150 bhp Chevrolet Captiva will definitely be a serious challenge to both the CR-V and the Endeavour. The new Safari SUV that at last has a good 140 bhp 2.2 litre common rail diesel engine. There is also a totally new Sumo Grande with completely new styling and a 2.2 litre 120 bhp common rail diesel plant and appears to be as spacious and luxurious and is at attractive prices.
Tata’s rival Mahindra & Mahindra had their popular Scorpio that has been recently upgraded with a new 120 bhp 2.2 litre common rail M Hawk engine. A pleasant surprise at the M&M stall was the AXE that it has designed for the army and may not be available to civilians. This all terrain all purpose vehicle with an imported 173 bhp diesel engine made every mud plugger or boulder basher drool with desire.
There are also many attractive choices in the price band between about Rs10 to 20 lakh. The petrol powered 161 bhp CR -V remains India’s top seller but now comes with a sister sporting a smaller 2 litre 143 bhp engine at a price of roughly Rs3 lakh less. Its most popular rival is the bigger Ford Endeavour that now has a peppy 143 bhp diesel plant at a similar price.
The sleek petrol powered 120 bhp new Suzuki Grand Vitara is well priced at Rs15 lakh while the 118 bhp diesel driven Mitsubishi Pagero costs a shade more. Hyundai’s Tucson also is in the same range. The Chevrolet Captiva has now come up to challenge these variants. Undoubtedly, There are now many excellent (CBU) imports for those with bigger wallets.
Murad Ali Baig is one of India’s foremost auto experts. Feedback to his column can be sent at firstname.lastname@example.org