With the SUVs having a firm place in the hearts of Indian buyers, car manufacturers are coming up with a plethora of choices this year. With a few new entrants in the compact SUV segment and few of the bigger SUVs getting updated, the Indian buyers have a lot to choose from. As the year 2020 comes to an end, let us take a look at the top SUVs which we enjoyed testing during the year.
The Magnite with its 1.0-litre turbo petrol in manual or CVT transmission motor makes for a sweet deal with the special introductory price. It looks appealing, gets a spacious cabin, and is decently-specced. On the flip side, the steering lacks feedback, and the high-speed ride is unsettling and noisy. However, with the Magnite, Nissan should also aim to strengthen and expand its sales and service network in the country.
The full-size SUV from MG's stable has recorded impressive sales figures within a few months of its launch. The 2.2-litre diesel engine in two states of tune coupled with a spacious cabin, well absorbent ride quality, many segment-first features, and level-one autonomous driver assistance tech amazed us while driving the Gloster. Being a ladder-on-frame SUV, it has excessive body roll which might unsettle the passengers and one cannot forget to consider the well established rivals of the segment in the form of the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Endeavour.
The modern Thar has evolved as a daily driver while retaining its off-road capabilities from the older model. The petrol and diesel engine options along with the ease of automatic transmission makes living with the new Thar a breeze. It still looks like a proper SUV packing in a utilitarian cabin. However, we would have liked it more if Mahindra would have equipped it with openable rear windows and bigger boot space. Nonetheless, the new Thar is in a league of its own.
The Creta is the highest-selling mid-size SUV in the segment and with the new generation launched this year, it looks fresh, gets revamped interiors, feature-loaded cabin, and relies on Hyundai’s widespread and strong aftersales service. Although its styling may divide opinion and the fact that it isn’t really a driver’s car, it continues to entice the buyers as a well-packaged family SUV.
The Defender definitely stands out from the crowd with its distinct design and true off-road heritage. It is super spacious, comfortable and well put together product with a variety of accessories and equipments to choose from. However, considering it costs over a crore on the road, it’s younger siblings are equally competent and can handle the duties at a much lower price tag.
The new player in the compact SUV segment has been gaining popularity over its competitors. The Sonet diesel manual is a part of our long-term fleet and we have really enjoyed driving the potent engine. It impressed us with its compact dimensions, economical fuel efficiency figures, abundant low and mid-range grunt, and a host of features. While the Sonet does not give many reasons to complain, we can say that the top-end variants are a bit pricey and seating three passengers in the rear seat can be a tight affair.
The T-Roc marked the German car-maker’s entry in the mid-size SUV segment in India. The strengths of the SUV are its handsome looks, refined 1.5-litre TSI engine, responsive seven-speed DSG gearbox, great driving dynamics, and an extensive list of safety equipments. Things we disliked were cramped rear-seat space and lack of an economical diesel powertrain. Taking the CBU route to India, the import was limited to just 1,000 units which were sold out within two months of its launch.
Audi’s flagship SUV along with its meanspirited brother look absolutely striking with its beefy and imposing design and styling. Surprisingly, they are both practical and can be used as a daily drive as well as around the track. Unfortunately, they come with a hefty price tag over a crore.
Volvo XC40 T4 R-Design Petrol
Earlier sold solely with a diesel engine, the new petrol version of the XC40 is only offered as a front-wheel-drive SUV. It has a smooth drive, quick gearbox and loaded feature and safety tech. It carries the same styling and design cues from the diesel model and features gloss black inserts as a part of the R-Design pack.
The new generation of the compact SUV from the India-owned British car manufacturer made its comeback in 2020 with refreshed styling, new BS6 compliant petrol and diesel engine options, and revamped interiors with a new set of features. We really liked the attention the new Evoque attracts, impressive NVH levels, and feature-rich cabin. On the downside, we felt that the low-speed ride is a bit on the firm side, back seats are a bit uncomfortable and good for passengers, and lastly, the rear windscreen is extremely small. However, with Rs 66.39 lakh on-road Mumbai, it is a value package over its German counterparts.