A fun-to-drive SUV for under Rs 25 lakh

It will be my only car. So, it needs to handle the non-existent roads of my locality, be good for city commutes, as well as occasional highway trips.

BHPian vinodvaddi recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I'm a 37 year-old male from Bengaluru. I currently own a Hyundai Eon which has been serving me well since the last 7 years. I'm now planning to upgrade to an SUV.

It will be my only car. So, it needs to handle the non-existent roads of my locality, be good for city commutes, as well as occasional highway trips.

90% of the time it will be used as a two seater (me and my wife) and will be driven in the city. But I do hope to do some trips to explore the beautiful scenery of Karnataka. The rear bench may have occasional guests.

Coming to the requirements, I would like:

  • Good ride quality and driving dynamics
  • Solid mechanical package (Tank like build, all-round suspension that can take care of bad roads and highway speeds with equal aplomb)
  • AT (for my wife, and to be frank even I prefer this convenience over driving fun, if that's what it takes to avoid knee pain and ankle pain)
  • Good sound system (A must)
  • Would like to have all 4 disc brakes (just for looks, if nothing else), panoramic roof

I've done my research and shortlisted the below.

Mahindra XUV300:

It's a baby Compass. Comes with all four discs, built like a tank and it's torque to weight ratio is the best in this list (better than SUVs from a segment above). I was ready to compromise on the boot space and take the plunge but I noticed in one of the test drives that the front suspensions is noisy. On slow speeds it hit a pot hole and made a loud noise as if something broke. The interiors, especially the unit below AC vents, looks like it's lifted from cars of the previous decade. The sound system is mediocre.

Jeep Compass:

It's a tank. It's beautiful.

Solid mechanical package with all four discs and electronic parking brake right from the base variant up.

But it's pricey. Also the AT is out of my budget. At the best-case, I can get the Sport Diesel Manual or the one with the Sunroof. But then it'll be a pain in city traffic because of the MT.

Tata Harrier:

Solid build. Great sound system.

I took the test drive of a manual variant. It's an ergonomic nightmare. My knee hit the dashboard and the steering column multiple times. Blind spots scared me once when I was turning the car.

The ergonomic issue may not be problematic in an AT but the blindspots are still a concern. It doesn't have rear discs though and that parking brake is gimmicky. But having said all that, it ticks most of the boxes and the top-end AT with panoramic roof and good sound system sits in the budget.

Also, the car looks stunning. As someone who appreciates good looking cars (I was a fan of Fiat; Linea, Abarth, and Avventura), this seems like the right choice.

Skoda Kushaq:

Elegant design.

Ticks most of the boxes.

Waiting to test drive 1.5 TSI.

But the downside is cost-cutting in the interiors and Harrier seems better VFM.

Hyundai Creta:

I took a test drive and immediately understood why it is the number one on the sales chart.

  • It is easy to drive in the city. It took me no time to adjust from my toy car Eon.
  • Good enough for highways.
  • Offers plenty of features.
  • Surprisingly it is as capable off-road as the other car I test drove on the same day (Duster). The approach and departure angles made me feel it did better than the Duster.

But the design has no character/emotion. Build quality is questionable too.

Tata Safari:

Seriously I don't need a 7-seater. Just considered to avoid that gimmicky parking brake of the Harrier and to get all 4 disc brakes.

Volkswagen T-Roc:

Happened to see one on road and that 1.5 sounded sweet. But the 2021 has dropped some of it's unique features such as the lane assist and also lack of cruise control at this price-point is unacceptable. But on the other hand, it comes with panoramic roof, electronic parking brake, and all four discs. So it seems like a better VFM than Kushaq, provided ride quality on bad roads is bearable and if I can live without cruise control. It is the perfect size too.

Wildcard entry:

Mahindra XUV700

I'm not looking for a 7-seater but 450NM of peak torque! If it comes at the same price range of the above cars, then it is worth a consideration.

Also the cross blade multilink suspension with frequency selective dampers is Jeep compass territory, if not better.

Now on the downside, it can be too big for a daily driver for 1 or two people.

Also from my previous test drive of the XUV 300, I understood it's not about what the brochure says, it's about implementation. Waiting for the reviews to come out.

Let me know your thoughts.

Here's what GTO had to say on the matter:

Guess you don't need a lot of space then.

You're sailing in the right direction and your shortlist pretty much has all the fun-to-drive options in the segment. Good news is, the sheer choice we have today. The Compass (2.0 diesel), XUV300 (both engines), Kushaq & Taigun (MT & DSG are both awesome), Creta & Seltos (1.4 Turbo, followed by 1.5L Diesel) are all fun if the right engines & gearboxes are chosen. Test-drive all & go with the one that pulls the strings to your heart the most. It should be a car that makes you fall in love with it, and you feel right at home in the driver's seat with.

Larger SUVs (XUV700, Safari) offer a different kind of fun, but in terms of the pure-pleasure-of-driving, they cannot match the smaller, nimbler & more chuckable options listed above. I'm a big fan of small + fun packages.

Here's what BHPian CEF_Beasts had to say on the matter:

IMHO, if SUV/Crossover and fun-to-drive are written together then I would suggest the Jeep Compass without doubt. Feels the most premium out of all cars shortlisted, features list is very long and is a proper driver’s car! And the quality of the interiors and other bits make it feel it’s from a segment above.

Since mainly only 2 people will be travelling in the car, I don’t think you will mind the slightly cramped back seat of the Compass.

Other option could be wait for the XUV700 as well, check it out and decide on the 5 seater or 7 seater option. But I would suggest consider the XUV700 only by 2022/23 because initial batches are going to surely have niggles.

Here's what BHPian suhas_raj had to say on the matter:

Considering all of your requirements, Kushaq & Compass are probably best suited. Honestly I am a bit underwhelmed with Kushaq’s interiors, it feels very Un-Skoda on the inside, but once you crank the engine it’s some consolation. Somehow not a complete package, Skoda could have done better for sure! Heck, my 7 year old Rapid has better put together interiors.

On the other hand, compass seems to tick most boxes you need, it’s a great package if you love to be in the driver's seat. You’re getting what you pay for & the base variant offers good value proposition. If you can stretch go for the one with most safety equipment with at least 6 airbags, in the long run you won’t mind having spent a little bit extra for that peace of mind & that plush interior! Good luck with your car hunt.

Here's what BHPian Dr.AD had to say on the matter:

This means that a compact interior should not be a deal-breaker. And you mentioned "Fun-to-Drive" in the title itself which means that is the top priority. Given that, I would say that Compass, Kushaq and T-Roc are the right choices. These are fun to drive with good dynamics in their own right. Maybe XUV3OO too, but it has some compromises as you mentioned. Rest are more or less "soft SUVs" (with ride tuned for comfort than fun) with only "relatively" (compared to other SUVs) good driving dynamics.

I feel you cannot go wrong with any of the three (Compass, Kushaq, and T-Roc) for your requirements.

None of these cars will come under 25L in used car market in Bangalore, unless they are quite old (well beyond warranty period). You will only get about 7-8 years old X3 in 25L in Bangalore. And that will have its own headaches about maintenance (time and cost required to maintain it).

Unfortunately in Bangalore, the used car prices are as brutal as the new car prices.

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