Since the inception of Small Car Rule in 2008, India has become a very diverse market with respect to sub-4 meter cars. We have so far seen 3 generation of Maruti Suzuki Dzire (earlier called Swift Dzire). Now, many people never really liked the idea of sub-4 meter sedans because they looked like after thoughts, with a boot painstakingly stuck to a hatchback. Obviously, we now have some of the better looking sub-4 meter sedans like the 3rd Gen Dzire and 2nd Gen Honda Amaze, which was launched very recently.
But as if the sub-4 meter sedans were not enough, we saw Ford come up with a sub-4 meter SUV, the Ecosport. At that time, Ecosport was a very important car for Ford, because that would ultimately decide Ford's future roadmap for India operations. Fortunately for Ford, the pseudo-SUV looks captured the mind and hearts of Indians and it became a success story. So much so, that it forced market leader Maruti Suzuki to come up with such a car. Maruti came up with Vitara Brezza in the year 2016 and expectedly, it became the segment leader. Tata too tried upping the game and launched Nexon last year. Apart from these sub-4 meter SUV's, we also have cars like Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster, Nissan Terrano, Renault Captur and Honda BR-V in the small SUV segment. In fact, it was Renault which created the segment of small SUV by launching the Duster.
But for someone who has seen cars like original Tata Safari and Mahindra Scorpio, these small SUV's look like hatchback on steroids! As if a hatchback decided to follow a fitness regime, went to gym, lifted weights, built a good physique and became an SUV (pun intended).
Tata Safari is a body-on-frame construction, and carries muscular looks, offers 4x4 and can withstand a lot of abuse. So is Mahindra Scorpio, Mahindra Bolero, Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour. These cars offer 4x4 capability and for someone who grew up in 90's, these cars appear to be real SUV's to him/her.
Now, a brief discussion about these small SUV's. They are monocoques, offer better road manners than their body-on-frame counterparts. Not to mention better ride quality and fuel efficiency numbers. Add the lower price tag and these cars (sorry, SUV's) offer much more over the body-on-frame SUV's!
But the question is, are these hatchback on steroids, sub-4 meter SUV's really SUV's? For me, no 4WD means its not an SUV! No two ways about it. More importantly, Body-on-frame SUV's offer street cred which these small SUV's totally lack. Infact, these small SUV's look like toddlers in front of those butch body-on-frame SUV's.
But hey, did I miss something here? Renault Duster offers AWD variant. In fact even the butch body-on-frame SUV's offer 4WD in their top trims only. But these body-on-frame SUV's have a charm of their own, dont they? Yes, they come with their own set of flaws. Not so sorted road manners, some ergonomic issues, quality issues are some of the inherent flaws that they possess.
PS I am not including Isuzu V-Cross, Tata Hexa and Toyota Innova Crysta. Reason? They don't look like SUV's, although I am not denying the fact that both V-Cross and Hexa offer amazing 4WD capabilities. Innova Crysta? C'mon, its a people carrier, not even close to being an SUV!
Also, I dont intend to offend people who own sub-4 meter sedans and SUV's.
What's your opinion about it? Do you like these sub-4 meter SUV's? or are you a body-on-frame fan?