The TUV-300 from Mahindra is aimed squarely at the EcoSport and competes against other compact SUVs present in this space. So far, EcoSport has been the only SUV in the sub-four meter space, with the TUV300 it has changed. Mahindra is already well established in the SUV / MUV segment in India and has the most number of offerings (Scorpio, XUV500, Quanto, Xylo, Bolero and Thar) in this space and TUV300 is one more arrow in its quiver that aims at further consolidating its hold.
The TUV-300 makes use of the ladder frame construction which is in-line with the approach that Mahindra follows with most of other SUVs / MUVs in its portfolio, but it is different nonetheless if we compare it to the competitors which use the monocoque construction. All cars that stand here on the scale are compact SUVs but the similarity between them ends just there. The price difference between some of these cars is too great and it can be argued that they are not even direct competitors. But the comparison is not between the ‘prices of the cars’, it is a comparison ‘between the cars’ that compete in the same space (Compact SUV segment) regardless of their price and it’s about whether the cars really offer as much as you pay for them or not.
Design and Exteriors
According to Mahindra, the TUV300 has been inspired from a Battle Tank, and this is clearly visible in the tall shoulder lines, high set nose, square wheel arches and flat bonnet. The letter ‘T’ stands for Tough. What goes without saying is the fact that TUV300 is the most robust and rugged SUV in this category. The frame-on-ladder construction is remarkably stiff inherently by design and can withstand more loads in comparison to the monocoque construction (which all other competitors use.). The downside to this type of construction is comparatively higher weight which affects the mileage figure adversely.
The car is interesting to look at from the rear, rear three quarter and sides, the front of the car however looks boring and gives the impression that designers ran out of time and as if it was completed in a hurry. Overall, the car looks very butch and boxy.
Ford EcoSport is another car in this category that has polarising looks and you may or may not like it. The Nissan Terrano and Duster win the wheelbase battle by a long margin while Creta is indeed a competitor to reckon with that is also perhaps the best-looker here.
The Duster offers a generous 210mm ground clearance followed closely by Nissan Terrano (205mm) and Ford EcoSport (200mm). Creta offers 190mm and TUV 184mm of ground clearance, which may not be in the SUV league but are impressive figures nevertheless.
Engine and Transmission
All compact SUVs come with three engine options except the TUV300 which offers only one engine option with two states of tunes, the Duster and Terrano use the identical units (two diesel engines with same capacity – 1.5 Litre and different states of tune and a 1.6 Litre petrol engine) and there’s no option of automatic gearbox though on both these cars. The Duster however offers an AWD drive train which the Terrano does not.
There’s a similar capacity (1.5 Litre) diesel and petrol engine on offer on the EcoSport with the 1litre Ecoboost petrol which produces marginally better power, torque and efficiency figures than the 1.5 litre petrol unit. There’s a five-speed automatic gearbox too which is available with the 1.5 Litre petrol unit. There’s no option of 4x4 transmission to complement the car’s huge ground clearance.
Creta offers a six-speed transmission with all it’s engines while the automatic gearbox is available only with the 1.6 Litre diesel unit. The 1.6 Litre petrol and 1.4 Litre diesel uses a 6-speed manual gearbox with no option of a 4x4 transmission. TUV300 brings in the segment first AMT and offers it with the engine that develops 82PS of power. The torque (230Nm) of both the engines on TUV300 is impressive too.
Interiors and Features
The Creta wins the features battle hands down and offers the most luxurious and up-market interiors; the quality of materials used are class-leading. You get leather seats, touch screen navigation system, rear AC vents, six airbags, ESC (Electronic Stability Control), VSM (Vehicle Stability Management), Hill Assist etc. The EcoSport comes close in comparison to the Creta and offers all safety and convenience features except the rear AC vents. The Duster follow is a close third which offers generous level of safety equipment (Two airbags, ABS, EBD with Brake Assist, Hill Assist and ESP) which is let down only by the style and materials used inside the cabin. TUV300 is in the fourth spot but only due to lack of few features. However, in terms of quality of materials and overall functionality, it is one of the best cabin that Mahindra has ever put together. The Terrano from Nissan is a huge disappointment in terms of features as well as quality of interiors that it has on offer and does not justify the high price point at which it sells.
Terrano is a strict No-No for a simple reason, that Renault's Duster, which is essentially the same car; offers everything and more, and that too at a better price. While the Ecosport and TUV stand at the bottom of the cadre here due to their price point and Creta at the top among the likes of Duster - not essentially due to the price but also because of their comparitively larger dimensions.
If you are willing to stretch your budget to about 14-15 Lakh go for the Creta or the Duster. Creta is a comfortable car, drives well and offers good ride quality for passengers with tons of features. However, Duster is essentially a more driver oriented car and can do moderate off-roading too with an AWD on offer.
However, if you are on a tight budget, look no further than the EcoSport. The TUV300, despite its butch style, rugged build quality needs to mature overall as a product to match the EcoSport in the smaller price bracket. TUV300 would have certainly made a mark with a better looking face. For the time being, 7-seater capacity, rear wheel drive configuration and Micro-Hybrid technology remain its USP.
Watch comprehensive video review of the Hyundai Creta below