No doubt that the meteorologists in India have a hard time predicting the monsoon. The weather forecast that we receive is not accurate most of the time. But we don’t blame the scientists because we see it as Mother Nature’s perfect joke on us humans, who like to foresee things and peer into the immediate future. We think that there are some things that we can enjoy and perhaps appreciate more when they come to us as a surprise. Rains are one of those things.
As an automobile enthusiast, one of the best ways to enjoy the rainy weather is to go out in the wild and tame the rough terrain that comes along with it. There are SUVs that can help you do that and some are more capable than the others. In fact some of them can do deep water wading comfortably. We bring you a list of top five, most capable off-roaders (under Rs. 15 lakhs) for you.
Force Gurkha is not the Hummer but to treat it with any less respect would be demeaning too. There’s a 2.6-litre dependable engine from the Mercedes. This is as robust as it can get in a car that does not even cost 10 lakhs! There are three driving modes (4H, 4L and 2H) that makes it flexible enough to drive in any condition. Apart from the driving modes, there are differential locks on both the axels that would prevent you from getting stuck even in the direst situation.
There’s a low-ratio gearbox that comes with a crawler function that you can use to climb extremely steep inclines with no effort. The impressive ground clearance of 210mm complements other off-road features that the car offers. There’s an air-intake snorkel that lets the engine breathe even in deep waters.
Not so good bit – Looks, minimalistic interiors.
Mahindra Thar provides the best combination of the rugged looks and capability. There are round headlamps at the front which remind of the Willy’s Jeep. There’s a CRDe engine on the top variant with 5-speed manual BorgWagner transmission with low reduction gear.
The rugged looks of the car work in its favour and make it look a proper SUV. The car has 200mm of ground clearance and a 4X4 transmission system that makes the car immensely capable. The car comes with essential driving modes like the 4H, 4L and 2H that makes it immensely flexible to drive on all road conditions.
Not so good bit - Fit and finish, No differential locks, plain interiors
Renault Duster is a car that sells in great numbers world over. The car makes the most sales numbers among all the cars that Renault sells in India. In fact according to a recent report that was published in the Economic Times, out of every nine ten cars that the manufacturer sells, nine are Duster.
The car has a ground clearance of 205mm that gives you the capability to go anywhere. The 4X4 variant of the car like all other cars in this category come equipped with the driving modes – 4H, 4L and 2H.
Unlike all other cars in this list, the car has a monocoque construction and is the lightest. There’s a choice of diesel as well as a petrol engine. The diesel engine comes in two states of tune. However, the 4X4 option is available with the more powerful diesel version (110PS) only. There are other safety features like Hill assist, ESP (Electronic Safety Program), ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) and Understeer control that make it one of the best SUV at this price point.
Not so good bit - The car only seat five, unlike all the other cars in the list which can seat even seven people.
The Mahindra Scorpio has been among us for a very long time and has made Mahindra what it is today. The car is perhaps the best equipped car in this list and comes with features like – Tyretronics, 6inch infotainment system, fully automatic climate control, navigation system, ABS etc.
There’s an immensely capable 4x4 transmission system that provides the essential driving modes (4H, 4L and 2H). There’s a multilink suspension system at the back and independent suspension system at the front, this ensures that the off-road journeys are as comfortable a normal road journey. The car is a perfect lifestyle vehicle that you would equally enjoy on road too.
Not so good bit – The car comes with improved handling but there is still a noticeable amount of body roll. Has lowest ground clearance among all cars in the list – 180mm.
Watch comprehensive video review of the Mahindra Scorpio below
The original Tata Safari now known as the DICOR has been in the making since 1998. The car has received several updates throughout its lifetime too. Since the car does not have an all wheel drive system, therefore it is not on the list.
The Storme which has been essentially derived from the DICOR is more capable since it gets an option of 4X4 transmission system. However, the ground clearance is 200mm which is 5mm less than the DICOR. The car has presence like no other car that in on this list. The driver gets an extremely commanding view and the car is the most spacious too.
It goes without saying that you get all the drive modes (4H, 4L and 2H). Since it’s a huge car, it handles like a typical SUV. However the body roll is not intimidating and you can throw it in corners without worrying.
Not so good bit - The interiors are functional and spacious but may seem extremely basic when compared to a car like Scorpio.
Watch comprehensive video review of the Tata Safari Storme below