Home / Home / Automatic Compact SUV Shootout – The Big Pretenders


The list of compact SUV models keeps growing and while they may be pint-sized all-road crossovers far from a true SUV, there is more than a little sense to their existence. We’ve pitted the latest entrants against one another.

AT Compact SUV Crossovers

Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

As much as I don’t prefer these compact SUV creations straddling segments — and they’re everywhere and across all price bands — there is some sense to them. In areas where consistently good roads are hard to come by or just wishful thinking, any low-riding vehicle doesn’t make sense. Especially if peace of mind and maintenance factors are included. Thus, these hatchbacks in heels or some with gumboots on, with some butch styling bits and accessories galore, seem to be taking the world by storm. India is no different. There was a first wave. And now there’s a second, with badge-engineering and platform-sharing being the new go-to solution to satisfy the masses’ craving for a budget, do-it-all runabout that packs a slew of features as well. Moreover, with growing traffic, the automatic transmission is carving a serious piece of the pie for itself and manufacturers are jumping for it with more tech and features per square metre than ever before.

AT Compact SUV Crossovers

One of the newest entrants in the compact SUV space is the Nissan Magnite. Built on the compact modular platform, it has a modern but hefty stance — far beyond its dimensions. The dominating face with LED lighting and muscular creases give it a purposeful demeanour. The proportions are generous and the lines are a fresh take on the compact crossover segment. The big wheel-arches and 16-inch wheels make it seem very next-decade and, all in all, it was a pleasant surprise.

AT Compact SUV Crossovers

The Toyota Urban Cruiser is the next new entrant and it is essentially a badge-engineered Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza with the necessary change of logos. ‘Why?’ you may ask. That’s not as easy to answer as you may think but I see it as a means of increasing sales numbers and decreasing wait time while better managing inventory, among other things. The Urban Cruiser shares platform, powertrain, part and parcel. The styling is straightforward and functional. It offers a high ride height, generous space, and decent boot volume.

The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza facelift along with the Hyundai Venue Sport facelift, together with its exciting contemporary and sibling, the Kia Sonet, complete our new crossover list. The segment has a lot more established names as well — the Ford EcoSport, Mahindra XUV300, Honda WR-V, and Tata Nexon — all of which have been updated to comply with BS6 emission norms.

Right. The new Venue is essentially a mild update with some red bits on the new Sport avatar we have here, a new diesel engine and updated petrol engines, and a new transmission, too. The iMT (or intelligent manual transmission) is a semi-automatic set-up requiring no clutch action from the driver but needing gear-lever operation. It’s an interesting addition to the already bustling list of choices.

The Brezza gets a sizeable update in the form of refreshed styling and a new petrol engine with an option of an automatic. The Sonet, like the Venue, has two petrol engine choices, but — unlike the Hyundai i20 — doesn’t have two different automatic transmission choices. Both have iMT and DCT (dual-clutch automatic transmission) options with the turbo-petrol engine.

AT Compact SUV Crossovers

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About the author: Jim Gorde


Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible immediate future until hydrogen FCEVs take over.

t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia/@jimbosez


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