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    Top 10 SUVs/MPVs we tested in 2022

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    Sagar Bhanushali

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    Top 10 SUVs/MPVs we tested in 2022

    Midsize hatchbacks and compact sedans have had a good run on top of the sales charts though it’s an open secret that more and more Indians are now buying SUVs and crossovers. With their elevated driving position, better versatility for seating and luggage, chunky tires and all-wheel drive capability, SUVs and crossovers are gaining prominence among new car buyers. Speaking of prominence, mid-size MPVs also seem to have made a comeback when we look at cars like the Carens and the updated XL6 doing well for their respective brands. We have driven and tested them both along with a bunch of SUV/crossovers from 2022 and here’s our list of top ten that we prefer for various reasons.

    Mahindra Scorpio Classic

    Right Front Three Quarter

    Mahindra does know their SUVs and the recently launched Mahindra Scorpio-N and the Mahindra XUV700 are great examples to exhibit this fact. However, the erstwhile Scorpio continues its reign, this time with a ‘Classic’ suffix. The good thing about the Scorpio is that Mahindra has not fiddled with its butch and imposing stance but rather benefitted it with a new heart in the form of the new 2.2-litre diesel engine. Agreed, it’s slightly down on power, but the engine feels much more refined and quieter than before. It hasn’t lost its USP either and with the new cable shift technology, the gear shifts are a lot improved. Having said that, the interior does feel dated and the quality of materials could have been bettered. However, overall, the Scorpio Classic continues to entice the niche set of buyers who prefer it over the new Scorpio-N for its ruggedness and raw appeal.

    Hyundai Venue N Line

    Right Front Three Quarter

    The Venue N Line is the second model under Hyundai’s ‘N Line’ sub-brand. The purpose of Venue N Line is specific and straight. Take the fastest powertrain and engine combination, make it look funky and while doing that not burn a hole in the buyer’s pocket. With just Rs 58,000 more than its vanilla version, the Hyundai Venue N Line’s 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine and the DCT unit are a potent combination. And with the add-ons like the dual exhaust tailpipes and vibrant colour options, it also looks stylish. And it’s not only the visual bits but also the minor mechanical tweaks with the steering, suspension, and brakes that make the overall handling and ride quality a little more exciting than its standard version.

    Mahindra Scorpio N

    Left Front Three Quarter

    The Scorpio-N received a huge amount of excitement since it was announced. And after driving it, we can say that Mahindra has done a fantastic job with it which is why it is in our favourite list of cars. Now the new Scorpio-N just cannot be compared to the last gen Scorpio because it’s a completely new car with nothing shared. What we love about the new Scorpio-N is the powertrain. The engine and gearbox are fantastic and give the Scorpio-N all the performance one needs. What also impressed us when we first drove it was the handling for what is a ladder on frame vehicle. Of course, it isn’t as agile as the XUV 700, but compared to the previous-gen Scorpio this is just leagues ahead.

    Kia Sonet turbo petrol automatic

    Right Front Three Quarter

    The Kia Sonet has a lot to offer, be it the feature list, the good looks, or the fuel-efficient yet punchy diesel motor which is so popular. Last year we drove the petrol automatic variant which gets a turbocharged three cylinder engine that’s paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Naturally, it performed to our expectations, delivering strong usable power with the convenience of a quick yet very smooth dual clutch automatic. If we had to nit-pick, it would be the lack of space in the second row and slightly dated design for the dashboard but overall, the Sonet is still a great buy, especially the turbo petrol variant with the dual clutch automatic.

    Maruti Suzuki Brezza

    Left Front Three Quarter

    Many folks have mistaken the Maruti Suzuki Brezza (yes, gone is the Vitara moniker) for an all-new model ground up, and even though it carries minor similarities to the outgoing version, it is a heavily reworked sub-four metre SUV at that, something that is visible from any side you check. Apart from the host of new features such as a sunroof, HUD, six airbags, and a completely new design, it gets a new six-speed torque converter automatic transmission. Agreed, the price could be an expensive ask, but then again, you are unlikely to find a package with strong service support, convenient to drive in today’s crowded urban confines, and so many features.

    Kia Seltos X Line

    Left Front Three Quarter

    There are way too many crossovers in the Rs 15 to Rs 25 lakh bracket at the moment and some of them are really good. The Kia Seltos is one of them and even though it’s been around for a while, Kia has been rolling out yearly updates to keep it in your sight. The X Line that you see here is the Seltos’ most affluent spec and it sits above the Tech Line and the GT Line. The X Line’s biggest draw is its matte paint finished in grey. Kia calls it ‘Xclusive Matte Graphite’ and over this grey paint scheme you will find orange accents on the front bumper, rear bumper and the plastic cladding on the sides. Basically the X Line is for those who want their humdrum popular crossover to standout and it does a good job of it.

    Mahindra XUV300 TurboSport

    Right Front Three Quarter

    The Mahindra XUV300 TurboSport is a more fun and enjoyable alternative to its vanilla petrol version. Taking all the positives from the XUV300 recipe, Mahindra spiced it up with a 129bhp, 1.2- litre turbo-petrol engine. On paper, it’s the fastest SUV in its segment and surely felt so when we drove it around the gymkhana track. The six-speed manual is the only gearbox option and is well-calibrated to the re-tuned engine. However, we would have appreciated a bit more confidence from the brakes. Also, while the new colour shade and the red accents do try to lend it a unique look, the downside is that the cabin now feels dated. Having said that, if the XUV300 Petrol is the choice you make in the compact SUV segment, we suggest, spending the extra and getting the TurboSport version for its performance.

    Audi Q3

    Right Front Three Quarter

    The Audi Q3 is back after a hiatus of about three years owing to various factors, and is quite late to the party when it comes to the Indian market, especially when you consider that its rivals are getting a second update in the same timeframe. While giving Audi a little leeway here could be a challenge, the brand does manage to make the Q3 a compelling buy, be it the exclusivity of being the only SUV in its class to offer AWD, stand-out design, or even the overall driveability. It does lack a few crucial features such as premium interiors all around or ventilated seats, but if you choose to discount these small factors, then the Q5 does come showcase itself as a promising product.

    Citroen C5 Aircross facelift

    Right Front Three Quarter

    The Citroen C5 Aircross facelift, in the first look, comes across as a funky SUV loaded with features and space from the French marquee. Helping it stand out is the quirky design, the reworked interiors that now look and feel the part, as well as that crisp engine and gearbox combination. What is worrying though, apart from the premium price tag, is the thing service network and the low-speed ride. But that apart, Citroen C5 Aircross facelift does tick quite a few of the right boxes, with comfort being its utmost priority.

    Kia Carens

    Right Front Three Quarter

    There are a few things a people carrier must get right - space, comfort, accessibility, and ease of driving. The Carens checks all these boxes. And that’s the reason we feel it’s one of the better cars we have driven and experienced this year. We like the light controls – the steering is light to twirl without being vague. It’s neither the sharpest tool in the box nor is it brimming with feedback. But, it is effortless. The clutch and gear shifts on the manual versions again work with just the right bit of resistance. The Carens also offers fantastic visibility all around. It has a huge windscreen up front and A-pillars that don’t block anything significant. But mostly, it is how all this comes together with the car’s accessible performance which makes it both a good commuter and a good long-distance car. We took the diesel automatic version on a Mumbai-Bangalore-Mumbai road trip, and were pleasantly surprised by its effortless cruising ability, its ride quality, and its outstanding fuel economy.

    Maruti Suzuki XL6

    Right Front Three Quarter

    Maruti launched a bunch of new cars last year and the new XL6 is one of them. Now it’s more of an update than a generation change but we are not complaining because it’s all about the new engine and the 6-speed automatic gearbox. In fact, the 1.5-litre K15C engine is new with its dual-VVT and dual jet technology and it’s paired with an all-new six-speed torque converter automatic. This gearbox is a huge step up over the four-speed unit used all this while. And it also gets paddle shifters. As for the engine, it is more fuel efficient while being equally refined and usable. As a package, the XL6 continues to be a comfortable people mover with a lot of premium feel to it.

    Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi

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