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Popularity Of Perceived Compact SUV's

SUV's (Sports Utility Vehicle's) have always been held in high regard in the Indian Society. Right from the Tata Safari to the Toyota Landcruiser all these SUV's are masculine and give a sense of pride to its owners. Sadly, a few people use the size and presence of these SUV's to bully fellow road users.But today the definition of an SUV has been misinterpreted in most of the cases. Traditionally SUV's were vehicles with a ladder on frame chassis preferably with a Four-wheel drive(4WD) layout. But today jacked up hatchbacks and crossovers are labelled as compact SUV's. The whole revolution around these crossovers/jacked up hatchbacks was started by the Renault Duster. So how and why did these crossovers/jacked up hatchbacks commonly referred to as compact SUV's become so popular? Let us find out.

1. Before the launch of the Renault Duster, The cheapest family diesel SUV one could buy was a Scorpio or a Safari Dicor. Using these big SUV's in cities and towns became a big problem thanks to their size. Now with the launch of compact vehicles like the Duster, Ecosport, TUV300.etc. this problem size was solved. Where the Scorpio and Safari were 4.49m & 4.65m long respectively, The Ecosport, Vitara-Brezza & TUV300 are only 3.99m, 3.95m and 4m. Also, the width of these compact vehicles is less than the full grown SUV's. This made it very easy to use them around the town.

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2. Most of these compact vehicles use a monocoque construction (except the TUV300) which not only makes them lighter but also enhances their handling characteristics. Most importantly they offer a comfortable ride. The Renault Duster offers the best ride quality in its segment. The handling of the S-cross and Ecosport are miles ahead of the full grown SUV's. At the same time, the TUV300 offered with a ladder-on-frame chassis gets the robustness of the full-size SUV's and also has other characteristics of these compact SUV's.

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3. Petrol engines in these compact vehicles are not only fuel efficient but also can be fun-to-drive. The Honda BR-V is one such SUV which offers a decent balance between performance and fuel economy. At the same time, you have the most awarded engine the 1.0L Ecoboost in the Ford Ecosport which makes it truly fun-to-drive. Ladder-on-frame chassis SUV + naturally aspirated petrol engines have never been an economical option. To pull all that excess weight a turbo diesel is a must with a linear torque curve.

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4. These compact SUV's can be offered with smaller engines which not only make them fuel efficient but also fun-to-drive. Most importantly if the length is under 4m and they are clubbed with a diesel engine having a displacement of less than 1.5L and petrol engine having a displacement of less than 1.2L then they get a massive excise duty benefit. This makes them very cheap to buy.

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5. Thanks to the launch of vehicles like the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, Honda BR-V & Mobilio, Chevrolet Enjoy & Renault Lodgy carrying 5+ passengers isn't a problem either. All these cars offer a 7/8 seater option at the same time they have all the benefits of the compact SUV's like light weight, fuel efficient engines and decent ride and handling. Typical people carriers like the Tata Sumo, Mahindra Xylo and the Toyota Innova are nowhere close to these compact SUV's when it comes to the handling, power and fuel efficiency.

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All said and done the robustness and abuse friendly nature of these full-grown SUV's still makes them popular among buyers. The Mahindra Bolero Power Plus is a positive change in this regard. It is under 4m and uses the 1.5L Mhawk engine which gets it a lot of cost benefits without sacrificing on power. A compact SUV ideally is something like that of the Honda CR-V or the Hyundai Tucson. Cars like the Hyundai i20 active, VW cross polo, Toyota Liva cross or the Fiat Avventura are essentially jacked up hatchbacks nd vehicles like the S-Cross, Duster and Terrano are crossovers. Can these be termed as compact SUV's? We don't think so.