If not large SUVs, then what? Compacts of course!
Let's face it, not everyone likes big, gas guzzling SUVs. Not even their owners like the latter, even though they can afford them. But the whole point of having an SUV is, without a doubt, safety.
Let's be honest, even the people from various green organizations wouldn't hesitate to put their beloved children in a mighty, large SUV rather than risk going in for a fiber-bodied battery powered box on wheels. Of course, hybrid and electric cars are evolving day by day and are getting better to look at and even more reliable, but they are still quite restricted by range, and while that can be taken care of by range extending methods, they still feel quite nimble and, to some extent, delicate.
For those who are indeed bothered by this sensation, however tacky it may seem, there is a new breed of vehicles that adhere to no particular genre of automobile. No, they're not low, sleek four door sedans or hatchbacks, and neither are they big, boxy SUVs that sit high off the ground. Enter the realm of the crossover! A crossover is a vehicle that blends the best of both worlds. As they are usually built off a car platform, they offer car like handling and comfort. Their chassis and suspension too is car-based, but beefed up to endow them with a greater off road prowess than their normal car counterparts. In a crossover, you sit higher than you do in a sedan, but not as high up as some SUVs, and that gives you a good view of the road ahead, while at the same time makes you more confident that you won't have to deal with unnecessary servings of body roll.
The benefits don't just stop there. Crossovers are much lighter, and don't have massive 8 cylinder engines to deplete natural resources without a second thought. No, they are rather light weight and are powered a range from the newly spawned compact turbocharged engine varieties that are growing rather popular with all automobile companies. And besides, people the world over are now realizing the benefits of the sheer practicality that these cars offer. Let's look at some of the new faces in the all new game.
With a compact body and efficient engine combination coupled to a great price, the Duster offers fantastic value.
The Duster is one compact crossover that will surely make waves in it's segment, while enticing those looking at either the car segment below, or the SUV segment above. It comes from the lesser known Romanian brand Dacia, that is part of the Renault-Nissan alliance. With a compact, yet complete appearance, great ground clearance and good off road ability, it makes a lot of sense as an alternative to a sedan, for any kinds of active families.
The famed 1.5L DCi diesel engine will power the Duster in most markets. Available in either 85bhp/200Nm or 110bhp/240Nm states of tune, the turbocharged engine uses direct injection via common-rail technology that delivers good performance as well as great fuel economy. For the petrolheads, Renault will offer the 1.6L 110bhp/150Nm petrol unit under the bonnet.
The Duster is available with either a manual or automatic transmission, paired to either a front-wheel or all-wheel driveline.
Great build quality, amazing engines and superior ability make the Yeti a great all-round offering.
From the Czech Republic comes a contender that uses years of experience in quality craftsmanship with a modern spin on all terrain ability. The Skoda Yeti is one of the new favorites of the adventure class that demand not just off road ability, but a cosset of luxury and technology as well. It offers great room and flexible seating and storage options.
Built with that typical heavy duty feel prominent in all Skoda models, it makes use of a range of powerful, yet efficient engines from the mothership that is the Volkswagen stable, all of which are turbocharged four cylinder units. The most compact offering is the 1.2L TSI petrol unit that delivers 105bhp and 175Nm of torque. Then comes the 1.4L TSI that delivers 122bhp and 200Nm. The top-end petrol is the 1.8L TSI with 160bhp and 250Nm. The range includes, of course, some of the best diesel engines with a new 1.6L TDi CR offering 105bhp and 320Nm of torque and a 2.0L unit in not one or two, but three states of tune - 110bhp / 250Nm, 140bhp / 320Nm and 170bhp / 350Nm.
These are all paired to drivelines of various combinations including their 6-speed manual, or 6-speed double clutch DSG automatic transmission, and 4x2 or 4x4 modes.
The X1 promises sheer driving pleasure and dynamics with the desirable ideal blend of on and off road performance.
BMW were one of the first to create an SUV of smaller proportions, and be that as it may, the X1 delivers. Although it is quite compact and only seats four adults in comfort, it allows the occupant in the driver's seat to reap the most rewards and that in itself in enough to justify this thing. Of course, it brings trademark BMW build quality to a more affordable segment, and that includes absolutely nothing that looks substandard. Every single inch of the fit and finish levels exude quality, and German quality at that, which is the best kind.
The powertrain lineup consists of 2.0L petrol and turbo diesel engines. The 18i badged petrol offers 148bhp and 200Nm, while there will be a new 20i badged version with 184bhp and 270Nm. A 245bhp 28i may also appear in the near future. The diesel range has the 18d with 143bhp and 320Nm, while the more powerful 20d delivers 177bhp and 350Nm. There's also an even more powerful 23d with 201bhp and 400Nm. More than sufficient performance for the dynamic little X.
BMW offers the X1 with either sDrive 2WD or xDrive intelligent 4WD paired to either a six-speed manual or an 8-speed tiptronic automatic transmission.
More than just a shrunken big Q, the Q3 promises traditional German build quality, practicality, reliability and luxury, all at a great price.
Audi have been on roll with a slew of model introductions and facelifts. Of course, their A4 was what started the whole barrage of LED light accents on almost every thing on the road these days, with or without an engine. Petty blame aside, the Q3 is much more than a scaled down Q5. It is one of the most practical creations to surface and offers a new level of luxury and craftsmanship at prices you would never have expected them to be available at. Meticulous attention to detail and all the necessary luxury bits make this car feel complete and more than justifiable.
The Q3 will be available with a choice of 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. The first in line is the 170bhp/280Nm petrol, with a more powerful 211bhp/350Nm version as well. The diesel makes 170bhp/350Nm, but you can also expect a 140bhp/320Nm front-wheel-driven version in the future.
Quattro all-wheel-drive is standard for now, what with the Q nomenclature; and you have a choice of a six-speed manual, or a 7-speed S-tronic twin-clutch automatic transmission.
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
With the genes of a legend and state-of-the-art design language and equipment, this baby Range Rover excites every sense and certainly walks the walk.
Few cars have made it through from concept stage to production form without losing any of the excitement in the process. The Evoque is just that! It is brilliant to look at, aggressive and capable, and yet compact and efficient. It is the perfect amalgamation of Land Rover and Jaguar. What I mean is, it offers the off road ability of it's much larger sibling, while on the inside, it borrows more than just cues from it's much more luxurious cousin. Everything in the Evoque is bespoke and well-crafted and it all falls into place perfectly. It exudes an aura of upmarket luxury, while still being as ready to hit the dirt as any young country lad with a helmet on.
The Evoque is available in either two-door coupe or four-door form.
Power comes from two compact and modern powerplants. A 2.0L turbocharged petrol engine featuring direct injection puts out 240bhp and 340Nm of torque. Ample really. The diesel motor is available in two states of tune. The eD4 badged version makes 150bhp and 420Nm of torque, while the sD4 makes 190bhp and the same 420Nm.
There's a six-speed manual transmission with start/stop fuel saver technology, or a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission which features the unique rotary gear shift and steering mounted paddles. These drive either just the front wheels or all four wheels, depending on the variant selected. Land Rover's TerrainResponse system also makes traversing any kind of terrain more than manageable at the turn of a knob.
A local Indian brand with big brains and deep pockets takes the meaning of affordable crossover SUV to a new level.
Not many know of Indian manufacturer Mahindra, but for those who do, the name is synonymous with off roading. And there's nothing wrong with that, because for decades, Mahindra have been making some of the finest off road machines India has ever seen. Crude as they were earlier, they got the job done. Comfort and practicality had clearly not been a point of focus earlier, but now, with the XUV, Mahindra have stunned the country's growing automotive scene with an offering so well-equipped, it puts to shame cars that cost four times as much, and earns it's place on this list. The XUV500 is also set to be exported to several other countries.
With a whole host of equipment and technology never before seen in this segment, including active xenon headlamps, day time running lights, stability and traction control, automatic climate control and touch screen entertainment system, it offers a lot of kit for the money. Besides, an all-new version of their 2.2L common-rail direct injection turbo diesel motor puts out 140bhp and 330Nm of torque and gives it some great performance figures where it matters most, at the low end and mid range. As with any Mahindra to date, it isn't as composed at high speeds as you would like, and it's best for large families who take the occasional highway out of town. Besides, it offers 7 seats too.
The XUV500 comes with a five-speed manual transmission and either front-wheel or four-wheel drive.