We as Indians have always loved SUVs and the sales number loudly speak this fact. A new category of cars known as compact SUVs are doing particularly well in this segment. However, if we were to ask whether they really have the credentials of a true SUVs and if they are meant for off-roading, the answer would be – NO.
In addition to the high ground clearance, it is expected that a thoroughbred SUV should have robust construction and a four-wheel drive system. The compact SUVs like Ecosport, or crossovers like Fiat Avventure, Hyundai Active i20 etc. have high ground clearance but they are not essentially SUVs because they neither have the rugged construction nor a four-wheel drive system.
Below you will find listed, best thoroughbred SUVs under 15 lakhs that you can purchase in India.
- [Get On-Road Price] Price starts from: Rs 5.98lakh
- Engine: 1.3-litre Petrol
- Power: 80bhp Torque: 103Nm
- Fuel economy: 11.9kmpl
Maruti Gypsy was introduced in the year 1985 and is the oldest SUV of this list. The car is available with and is available in hard top and soft top variants. The car never became very popular and did not sell in large numbers. It uses large 16inch wheels which combined with a 4X4 drive system gives the car its go-anywhere capability. The car uses a 1.3-litre engine which is the most robust and reliable engine from Maruti. The car has great build quality but looks aged and boxy.
The Gypsy has a 4WD system and you have three modes (4H, 4L and 2H). The car is not without its flaws, the leaf spring suspension system used the car is stiff that provides good handling but makes the ride extremely stiff and uncomfortable. The lack of basic comfort features like power windows, power steering, air-conditioner etc. is another drawback of the Gypsy.
- [Get On-Road Price] Price starts from: Rs 8.35lakh
- Engine: 2.6-litre Diesel
- Power: 80.5bhp Torque: 230Nm
- Fuel economy: 17kmpl
If we were to award the best SUV award in this list, we would have surely given it to Force Gurkha. It uses a 2.6-litre engine from the Mercedes which is not refined but extremely dependable. Along with 4H, 4L and 2H driving modes, there are differential locks at the front as well as at the back; therefore, you would never have to worry about being getting stuck. The low-ratio gearbox along with crawler function helps you climb steep inclines with great ease though this makes the car a pain to drive in the city traffic. The ground clearance of 210mm is one of the best in class, combined with air-intake snorkel, it makes even the most extreme terrain conquerable.
Not everything about this car is impressive, especially if you consider the face which is a disaster to look at and the minimalistic interiors in which you get the power steering and air-conditioner. Another major drawback is the driving position and the awkward steering wheel angle which would take some time getting used to. Despite the limitations, that lack of some basic features may pose, you can virtually go anywhere with this car.
- [Get On-Road Price] Price starts from: Rs 5.53lakh
- Engine: 2.5-litre CRDE
- Power: 105bhp Torque: 247Nm
- Fuel economy: 13kmpl
The Mahindra Thar is a true-blue SUV that combines rugged and butch looks with its impressive performance. The round headlamps at front of the car reminds of the Willys Jeep. Thar uses a ladder frame construction that makes it very robust. The Snorkel that the car uses for air intake would enable it to go deep into waters without any trouble.
The top variant Thar gets its power from a 2.5-litre CRDE diesel engine and BorgWarner four-wheel drive system as a standard fitment. It uses an independent suspension system at the front and rigid axel with leaf-spring on rear wheels. The car is perhaps the most rugged looking car of this list and does not pretend to be luxurious at all. The interiors have bare minimum level of equipment like air conditioner, power steering etc. The rear seating arrangement of the car is like the Gypsy which is not very practical.
- [Get On-Road Price] Price starts from: Rs 8.69lakh
- Engine: 2.2-litre CRDi Diesel
- Power: 122bhp Torque: 290Nm
- Fuel economy: 15.4kmpl
The Scorpio was perhaps the first decent and well-rounded car that was offered by Mahindra. It has undergone several iterations and the latest version of the car irons out the flaws of the last car. The car has very pleasant interiors that are very functional, well laid-out and generously equipped. The 2.2-litre CRDI diesel engine is robust and powerful and uses a 5-speed transmission system to send power to all wheels. The car uses a ladder frame construction and has independent suspension system on all wheels.
There are three driving modes - 2H (2WD high), 4H (4WD high) and 4L (4WD low). The 2H is normal driving mode that would use the front wheels for driving. The 4H is used on slippery and soft roads for moderate speeds. The 4L mode is used on low speeds while off-roading.
Mahindra Scorpio is one of the most practical and powerful car on this list, it looks urban and dependable car which you can use daily without a second thought. The car is extremely well equipped in terms of safety features and has decent off-roading capability too. The rear seats unlike some of the other SUVs in this list are useable and can carry rear passengers in comfort.
- [Get On-Road Price] Price starts from: Rs 12.49lakh
- Engine: 1.5-litre CRDi Diesel
- Power: 110bhp Torque: 248Nm
- Fuel economy: 19.67kmpl
The Renault Duster is the most expensive car in this list. The car is a compact SUV that combines practicality of the daily use car with the off-roading ability of a thoroughbred SUV. The smooth and suave looking car uses a lightweight monocoque chassis construction. The 1.5-litre diesel engine that powers the car produces moderate amount of power and uses a 6-speed transmission system to send the power to the wheels.
The generous ground clearance of 210mm and an independent suspension system all round makes this car a competent SUV that can maneuver comfortably on any terrains. The car has three drive modes 2WD, 4WD and Auto. In case of 2WD the engine drives only the front two wheels and 4WD permanently engages all four wheels. The Auto mode uses the front two wheels for driving, power to the rear wheels is sent automatically when the system senses the need. It would not be absolutely wrong if we put this car in the same class as the Scorpio since it is generously equipped like the Scorpio with creature comfort and safety features.
The Duster makes a more compelling choice if you are out in the market, looking for a compact car that is easier to drive and park in city conditions. Nothing can possibly go wrong with the Duster and there are absolutely no faults that we can find when compared to the other cars in this list.