You are in your mid-thirties. Have a family of four. And have to deal with the constant inflow of guests, family mostly. So far the Altos and the Eons have worked out fine. But now you need something that’s more spacious, more upmarket, and feature rich. And it must still be affordable.
You also must have a diesel now. Because with more disposable income courtesy that much-needed promotion or the new job, taking those weekend getaways is a must as well. Plus, you must ditch the bike and make that long commute to work in a car now…just to go with the image.
So, if you are like the majority of the Indian populace you will simply go ahead and buy the Maruti Suzuki Swift and be done. However, because everyone from your neighbours to your in-laws to your building secretary already has one, you must have something different. The one car that has your attention with all the hoopla surrounding it, is this new, small, but affordable SUV with a strange name.
The Mahindra KUV100. But there are some questions: How does the KUV100 compare with regular hatchbacks? Is it efficient and easy to drive? And is it fun? Mostly - Is the KUV100 really worth buying over the likes of the Ford Figo and the Hyundai Grand i10?
Well, you are in luck, because we are answering exactly that.
Of the three cars, the Figo draws the least attention. It has good proportions but the styling isn’t something that draws a second glance. It has large headlamps, a yawning grille with chrome slats, a slight bulge on the hood, and a sculpted bumper. The latter in fact gives the Figo some degree of oomph. In profile it looks under-tyred and while the rear-end design has huge mass-appeal, it has no real standout design highlight.
The Grand i10 is more polarising. It’s also easy to classify based on ethnicity: This one looks like a modern Korean. It too has large headlamps but with a tiny mouth and a huge hexagonal chin. It has a sculpted bumper too but it doesn’t look as sporty as the Figo. In fact, as a whole, the Grand i10 looks more chubby and rounded; like a car that needs to hit the gym compared to the better-toned Figo.
The Mahindra KUV100, on the other hand is difficult to classify. It is tall and wide but it’s also short. It has this big and tall front end with a two-tone bumper and pulled back headlamps for that butch image. But, move to the side and it seems to run a tyre size too small. And along with that excessively rounded roofline and a relatively long hood and no tail section whatsoever, it looks cartoonish. The rear though looks all right.
Thankfully, the interior of the KUV is more harmonious. It’s also pretty distinct. There are umpteen number of finishes and shapes all round and the KUV, courtesy its dimensions, offers best in class head and shoulder room too. It is easy to get in and out of as well. But, the quality levels and the fit and finish, needed to be better. It doesn’t reek of cost cuts or tackiness, but compared to the competition at hand, it’s definitely lacking.
Quality levels on the Figo are much better. And in terms of occupant friendliness – ergonomics, usable storage and the like – the Figo not only beats the KUV, but is better than the Grand as well. The Figo also has the most kneeroom in this test and the best seats. It’s got a great driving position too and we love the sea of black as part of the interior. Majority of buyers however might not agree with us on this and might gravitate towards the Grand’s insides.
The Grand i10 uses a two-tone layout for its dash that gives it an airy feel. It’s not as spacious as the Figo in real terms, especially when it comes to shoulder or kneeroom making it the least spacious car in this test. But, when it comes to material quality, fit and finish and the overall look and feel as well as operability and attention to detail, the Hyundai tops the scorecard.
The Grand i10 is right up there when it comes to equipment too. For instance, it is the only car here to get rear vents for the aircon, keyless entry and start, parking sensors, leather wrapped steering and gear knob, and an internal hard drive to store music. The Figo’s exclusivity is limited to a climate control system, driver side one touch up and down function for the window, and in fact, the lack of ability to play a CD. It is also the only car here not to get rear wash and wipe.
The KUV100, meanwhile, seems to have focused all its energy on infotainment and lighting. It gets DRLs, a centrally placed cabin light and a light in the glovebox. In terms of infotainment, it has an LCD screen and 6 speakers against four on the other two cars. Additionally, it also gets a rear armrest and a sunglass holder missing on the other two cars. The KUV100 is also the only car here not to get turn indicators on the ORVMs; it has a folded fist instead.
The Ford Figo has the largest, most powerful engine in this test. It is also the only four-cylinder unit here. No wonder it is the best car to drive. Take engine response – flat out acceleration or overtaking ability – and the Figo completes both tests with the quickest times. It is also the best handling car here with the best steering response and the most potent brakes. The latter impress with their feel, progression, bite, and in fact, a short stopping distance. What’s not to like then? The gearshift quality for one, is rubbery. The Figo also has a relatively poor low speed ride. It is rude, noisy and vibey as well. NVH is also an area where the Figo needs improvement.
The Hyundai Grand i10 though scores well on NVH, even though it has a three-cylinder engine. Sure, there are vibes that can be felt via the floor pedals at idle but it’s nothing too severe. When the car starts moving though, the engine sounds and feels the most refined and quiet. But, the Grand has the smallest engine here and with the least power output. Not surprisingly then, it is so slow, it is almost boring. There’s nothing exciting about its handling either. It does the job; it is secure, predictable and more confident than the Mahindra, but it isn’t enjoyable. So, the Grand isn’t a great driver’s car, that’s established. But, if there were still any doubts, that steering which is as mute as a tree, confirms it.
The Mahindra KUV100 isn’t a fun to drive car either. But then matching long (ish) suspension travel with relatively low damping and top-heavy weight management isn’t going to magically produce a great handling car. To make things more challenging, Mahindra has equipped the KUV with a steering that’s both vague and dim-witted; it’s worse than the Grand! It also has the worst visibility in this group even though it has the highest seating. The gearshift quality though better than the Figo, is till notchy and a tad tedious.
But there’s good news. Even though the KUV might not feel the most planted at high speeds, especially when tackling undulations, its ride quality at city speeds is more than acceptable. It’s pliant for most part and it isn’t as noisy as the Figo. But, the KUV’s highlight has to be its engine response. Not in Eco mode mind. Here the throttle response and engine mapping are as dull as a goldfish, and the engine also refuses to budge past 3,500rpm. In normal mode, the KUV manages to disguise its weight and the lack of engine capacity and power compared to the Figo quite well. It isn’t as quick as the Ford but is much quicker than the Hyundai. And, it’s geared well to take on city traffic and highway overtaking duties.
Just for those who like numbers: 0-100kmph times in ascending order are 10.37 seconds for the Figo, 14.48 seconds for the KUV100 and a sleep inducing 20.04 seconds for the Grand i10. In terms of roll on times, the Figo manages the 40-100kmph run in 4th in 11.65 seconds followed by the KUV with 12.92 seconds and the Grand i10 again brings up the rear with 17.05 seconds.
On the crucial braking front, the KUV100 impresses with its stopping distance from 80kmph needing just 27.1 metres of tarmac. Now, the Grand and Figo post similar distances with the Hyundai registering 27.3 metres, and the Ford needing a little more at 27.8 metres. But when you consider the KUV weighs over 100kg more than the other two, it’s bound to bring in an appreciative nod. However, in the 100-0kmph test, the KUV takes a lot longer. It posted a distance of 45.5 metres against 38.0 metres for the Figo and 38.5 for the Grand. Guess there’s no running away from excess weight. This also puts the KUV at the bottom in the braking department.
If driving doesn’t get you excited, this section here will be crucial. The Hyundai Grand i10 is the cheapest to buy at Rs 8.15 lakh on the road in Mumbai, even in the top of the line Asta (O) trim. And as we mentioned towards the beginning of the article, there’s a lot of stuff one gets as part of the deal. It’s got a fantastic warranty as well – 2 years or unlimited mileage, which is in fact the best in this bunch. But, what seals the Grand i10 as the best deal here – cost wise – is its fuel efficiency. The Grand with a city mileage figure of 15.3kmpl is the most fuel-efficient car here.
The Ford Figo is a relatively expensive proposition in the top of the line Titanium Plus version. Better then to settle for the next in line Titanium. It comes very close to the Grand i10 on pricing and even though one does lose out on curtain airbags and the fancier Sync system compared to the Plus trim, the crucial hardware is all there. The Titanium costs Rs 8.18 lakh on the road. It comes with a 2 year or 100,000km warranty and it returned 14.8kmpl on our city cycle. So, it isn’t as good value as the Hyundai, but it comes pretty close.
The Mahindra KUV100 has similar warranty as the Figo but from then on, it begins to lose the value game. At Rs 8.21 lakh it is the most expensive in this test. This, of course, is for the range topping K8 six-seater version. It also falls short on fuel economy. The Mahindra weighs over 100kg more than the hatchbacks. And when driven in normal mode, all we got in the city was 12.8kmpl. In Eco mode the figure climbed substantially to almost 14.1kmpl. But then, to drive the KUV in Eco mode all the time, it requires one to be a monk.
Mahindra KUV100 K8 6STR
Price – Rs 8.21 lakh, on road Mumbai
Rank – 3
Final Score – 356/600
As we had said in our first drive report of the KUV100 (Read Here), Mahindra’s move to launch a product that has car-like driving appeal but SUV overtones in styling and usage, is a smart move. But, in the real world, especially in the face of the competition here, the KUV100 falls short. It doesn’t have the driving dynamics or the desirability or the economy or even the value to match the likes of the Grand i10 or the Figo. In fact, it doesn’t even have the ground clearance to match that of the Ford.
Hyundai Grand i10 Asta (O)
Price – Rs 8.15 lakh, on road Mumbai
Rank – 2
Final Score – 376/600
The Hyundai Grand i10 was never going to win this test, not with the Figo around. It did lose to the Ford in a four-car contest we did a while back. But, because it is such fantastic value – take pricing, fuel efficiency, warranty and even features – we just had to have it here to see how the newest kid, the KUV, compared against it. And apart from performance and usable space, the Grand i10 manages to beat the Mahindra on almost every count.
Ford Figo Titanium
Price – Rs 8.19 lakh, on road, Mumbai
Rank – 1
Final Score – 407/600
So, the Ford Figo wins again. And deservingly so. It might not be setting the sales charts on fire like the Hyundai Grand i10 or the Maruti Suzuki Swift, but as a product, it’s pretty spot on. It good value, is roomy, has fantastic performance, is fuel efficient, and is the most fun to drive car here. It has its shortcomings, of course, but, in this group, none of it stands out.
So, if you are in your mid thirties. Have a family of four… buy the Figo.
Photography by : Kapil Angane
|CAR NAME||Mahindra KUV100||Ford Figo||Hyundai Grand i10|
|Variant||K8 D 6STR||TDCI Titanium||CRDI Asta|
|Installation||Front, transverse||Front, transverse||Front, transverse|
|Displacement||3 cyls, 1198cc||4 cyls, 1498cc||3 cyls, 1120cc|
|Valve gear||4 valves per cyl DOHC||2 valves per cyl DOHC||4 valves per cyl DOHC|
|Power||77bhp at 3750rpm||99bhp at 3750rpm||70bhp at 4000rpm|
|Torque||190Nm at 1750-2250rpm||215Nm at 1750rpm||160Nm at 1500rpm|
|Power to weight||66.6bhp per tonne||95bhp per tonne||68.29bhp per tonne|
|Torque to weight||164.5Nm per tonne||206Nm per tonne||156Nm per tonne|
|Gearbox||5-speed manual||5-speed manual||5-speed manual|
|CHASSIS & BODY|
|Tyres||185/65 R14||175/65 R14||165/65 R14|
|Type||Rack and pinion||Rack and pinion||Rack and pinion|
|Type of assist||Electric||Electric||Electric|
|CAR NAME||Mahindra KUV100||Ford Figo||Hyundai Grand i10|
|Variant||K8 D 6STR||TDCI Titanium||CRDI Asta (O)|
|PERFORMANCE & BRAKING|
|20-80kph in 3rd gear||11.31s||10.53s||14.09s|
|40-100kph in 4th gear||12.92s||11.65s||17.05s|
|Tank size||35 litres||42 litres||43 litres|
|Seat base length||510mm||470mm||490mm|
|Loading lip height||850mm||710mm||710mm|
|Parameters||Max points||Mahundra KUV100 K8 D 6STR||