There are broadly four segments of SUVs in India: Subcompact (Hyundai Venue, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza), compact (Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos), midsize (Hyundai Tucson, Honda CR-V), and full-size (Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour). People tend to upgrade from lower to higher segments, and the bottom of the pyramid gets the maximum buyers. According to data by PGA Labs, the market research arm of Praxis Global Alliance, the September 2020 sales of these segments were:
— Subcompact: 41,277 units;
— Compact: 32,767 units;
— Midsize: 130 units;
— Full-size: 1,812 units.
Upgraders, it appears, are directly moving from compact to full-size, giving some great SUVs like the Tucson and CR-V a miss. Why is that so? We try and figure this out by driving the new Tucson in and around Delhi. The Tucson has two engine options: 2.0-litre diesel (185 PS) and petrol (152 PS). The diesel is mated to 8-speed AT gearbox, and the petrol gets 6-speed AT. It also gets the HTRAC all-wheel drive system (H stands for Hyundai and TRAC is short for Traction). HTRAC electronically controls torque split between front and rear axles depending on road and driving conditions, offering greater stability on slippery roads and in corners. HTRAC is available only in diesel variant.
So, as far as SUV characteristics are concerned, the Tucson offers both powerful engines and good handling. Its cabin is very comfortable, with features such as power-adjustable front seats, 8-speaker system by Infinity, hands-free tailgate opening, wireless charger and panoramic sunroof, among others. And it’s a connected car (Hyundai Blue Link).
Its cabin is definitely more luxurious than that of expensive SUVs such as the Fortuner and the Endeavour. The Tucson—unlike bigger SUVs like the Fortuner that have a lot of body roll—drives like a luxury sedan. The cabin is very quiet, seats are very comfortable, space is very good, and there is no body roll. The steering feedback—mechanical signals that the front tyres send to the steering wheel—is so accurate that you feel every bump and dip on the road via the steering wheel. Overall, it’s a delight to drive on highways and winding roads, unlike full-size SUVs.
SUVs have an emotional function, too. Auto analysts and car designers say that people in India generally buy bigger SUVs not only because of more cabin space, but also because they want to flaunt these—so more buyers will choose a muscular and rugged looking SUV (like the Fortuner) over the one that looks elegant (Tucson or CR-V), even though the latter may be more value for money and more luxurious. The Tucson is priced from Rs 22.3 lakh to Rs 27 lakh (ex-showroom).
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