Comparo: Hyundai Creta vs Maruti Suzuki S-Cross vs Mahindra XUV500 vs Nissan Terrano vs Renault Duster

Halley Prabhakar  /
28 Sep 2015 18:16:15 IST

Whether you admit it or not, we are a country that likes to flaunt. 'Bigger is better' could well have been coined keeping us Indians in mind. How else could you explain the overflowing love for SUVs in this country! We love these big beasts. They have the road presence which turns heads, gets that nod of appreciation from some and that look of longing from the rest. And the lunar crater-esque state of our roads only adds to the endless list of reasons as to why you should own a SUV.

But a few years back ago, you wouldn't be really spoilt for choices with the few old-school ladder chassis-based SUVs available. But now, manufacturers are realising that offering car like creature comforts in an SUV-shaped shell is an ingenious formula and the masses are lapping it up.

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Which is why India recently has been witnessing a sudden influx of compact SUVs and crossovers. The Renault Duster can claim brownie points for being the pioneer in this field but now there are many more players in the market. Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai are the top two carmakers in the country but they were conspicuously missing from this segment. Until now when the 'light bulb' moment of realisation occurred and they couldn't stay away from this lucrative, fast growing category of vehicles. So can the Hyundai Creta and the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross stand up against the proven heroes? Let's size 'em up.

Design and styling

All the five vehicles that you see here are appealing in their own way, which means that the buyer has a lot of options. Between the Creta and the S-Cross, the newest members of the lot, the latter toes a simpler design line. The face has a lot of detail and the large headlamps are eye-catching as well. However, the sides are bland while the rear is more hatchback than crossover. That said, it still is a proportionate design and draws attention. The Hyundai on the other hand shouts out from every angle - the design is its biggest USP and it looks like a proper SUV. The Santa Fe-like front along with those large vertical fog lamps adds to the overall presence. The edgy design theme does well in grabbing a lot of eyeballs. There's a lot of detail even in the alloy-wheel, the 17-inch multi-spoke unit, in fact, looks the most premium.

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The XUV500 has been around for a long time but the recent facelift adds a bit of freshness to an already smart design. There are a few places that have been overdone, like the extra chrome around the fog lamps and the busy rear end. That said, this Mahindra is still quite appealing and thanks to the larger footprint, is high on road presence as well. Renault's Duster too has been available for a few years now but hasn't received any exterior updates. There is, however, a facelift planned very soon. It still is in demand thanks to its butch character. The simplistic styling actually makes it unique and helps it stand out from the rest. The flared fenders add to the muscle, an important trait for an SUV.

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For those who however prefer a more stylish approach, there is the Nissan Terrano. It is based on the Duster but gets an entirely different face similar to the more premium Nissan SUVs available internationally. The sides are like the Renault so it still is muscular while the rear end is slightly more contemporary thanks to the angular tail lamps. But if asked to choose at gunpoint, I would say the Creta is the best looking of the lot while the Duster is still the most rugged. The S-Cross gets good marks for its looks but being a crossover that is more of a hatchback, it isn't as imposing as the rest.

Interior and space

Step inside a Creta and you will agree that the Hyundai offers the best-looking cabin. The dual-tone interior uses a modern approach and the entire design looks very SUV-and very car-like at the same time. The door handles merge well with the centre section like on premium SUVs and you even get that feeling when seated inside. It definitely feels a class above when compared to its rivals. The fit and finish is much better too and the quality of materials used is top-notch. The only other car that comes close to the benchmark set by the Hyundai is the S-Cross. The all-black cabin is well laid out and gets a soft touch centre section with good detailing. Silver finished inserts and surrounds contrast well with the black interior, giving it a more sporty character. There are a few parts that have been borrowed from its siblings and the plastics feel built to last. However, overall fit and finish isn't as good as the Hyundai despite it being positioned as a premium crossover.

Hyundai CretaCreta interior is a class above the rest. Fit and finish is top notch. Large centre console features a touchscreen system and controls are well placed

Kneeroom in the Creta is good but rear seat could do with better support. Note rising window line that hampers rear visibilityKneeroom in the Creta is good but rear seat could do with better support. Note rising window line that hampers rear visibility

Mahindra meanwhile have taken feedback positively and improved the XUV500 cabin. The design has always been smart but then gone is the weird purple/brown combination and in comes a more elegant beige/black interior. The attention to detail has improved and so has the quality of materials used. There are a lot of buttons in the car but operating them could have been easier and more positive. It's an improved SUV but it still isn't on par with the rest of the pack in this department.

The updated Duster interior is better than before - fit and finish has improved too. The dials are new but chrome outline is loud. Centre touchscreen is offered as standard and features various functions including navigationThe updated Duster interior is better than before - fit and finish has improved too. The dials are new but chrome outline is loud. Centre touchscreen is offered as standard and features various functions including navigation

Another SUV that gets an improved cabin is the Duster. The Renault was criticised for offering a basic interior when it rolled out about three years ago. Today, all the variants get a slightly better looking cabin and a few soft touch materials added to the dashboard. The AWD version seen here even gets a black/grey interior combination with silver inserts. The design theme is still simple and hence one doesn't realise that the fit and finish is actually good. Nissan did a slightly better job at improving the Duster cabin a few years ago in the Terrano. Times have changed though and it's actually the Renault that offers a better interior today.

XUV500 gets updated interior that features a new dual-tone dashboard and soothing blue lighting. Quality has improved but still not on par with rivals. Twin-pod dials look funkyXUV500 gets updated interior that features a new dual-tone dashboard and soothing blue lighting. Quality has improved but still not on par with rivals. Twin-pod dials look funky

The XUV500's 702-litre boot is best in classThe XUV500's 702-litre boot is best in class

The XUV500 is the only SUV here to offer three-row seating but then the last row is good enough only for two adults on short drives. The front and second row seats are, however, large and comfortable. There is adequate support and thanks to a flat floor, the second row seat is comfortable even with three adults seated. Fold the third row and it's the XUV500 that offers the largest boot. There are quite a few storage points too but there could have been more since the cabin is larger than the rest.

Nissan updated the Duster cabin to give it a more premium feel but is now beginning to look dated. Dials are basic while the steering gets no controls. Dual-tone interior  and mock wood inserts are elegantNissan updated the Terranocabin to give it a more premium feel but is now beginning to look dated. Dials are basic while the steering gets no controls. Dual-tone interior and mock wood inserts are elegant

The Creta in comparison offers more storage points and excellent front seats that offer great comfort and support. The rear seat could have offered more support but also good for three adults. The rising window line, however, reduces visibility as the passenger sits quite low - like in a car. Kneeroom is slightly more than the Duster/ Terrano despite featuring a smaller wheelbase. The boot too is a bit more spacious. The Renault-Nissan siblings have never been short on space but the front seats could do with more support. A front centre armrest is missing while the rest of the pack gets it. The two-step driver seat height adjustment is a bit crude. It also makes the seat move back and forth under braking.

S-Cross features an all-black interior with silver inserts to give it a sportier look. Dials are easy to read and offer a lot of information. Centre screen is great to use. It's also one of the first cars in India to offer Apple CarPlay connectivityS-Cross features an all-black interior with silver inserts to give it a sportier look. Dials are easy to read and offer a lot of information. Centre screen is great to use. It's also one of the first cars in India to offer Apple CarPlay connectivity

The S-Cross is a real surprise, there's plenty of room for all passengers. Rear kneeroom is the best of the lot but the floor isn't fully flat. There are quite a few storage points too. The seats offer good support, both front and back and are as good as in the Creta. Boot space though is not the best when compared to the rest but is usable.

Engines and performance

While most of the competition features an engine capacity between 1.5 and 1.6 litres, the XUV500 comes equipped with a larger 2.2-litre diesel motor. We will, however, come back to why it still isn't the quickest of the lot. The S-Cross features the much-awaited 1.6-litre DDiS engine sourced from Fiat. The newest engine of the lot produces 120PS of max power and a whopping 320Nm from as low as 1,750rpm. The peak torque produced is comparable to larger diesel engines and it is surprising to see a smaller engine produce as much power. Crank the engine and it's silent inside the cabin.

On the road, the Suzuki gets calmer but there is prominent turbo lag until 2,000rpm before all the torque kicks in to catapult the car ahead. The DDiS 320 is a powerful motor but features a small powerband and short gear-ratios. This makes it hard to keep the car in its sweet spot, especially while driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic. It does take time getting used to driving this car smoothly in town and to make it worse the clutch is heavy. Get on to the highway and she cruises effortlessly at triple digit speeds and overtaking is effortless. The motor is efficient too, overall efficiency is surprisingly the highest at 16.5kmpl. A 6-speed transmission does duty and is smoother in operation when compared to the rest except the Hyundai.

The Creta, as we had expected, has borrowed its powertrain from the Verna. The 1.6-litre mill may not be the torque king on paper but the impressive 128PS on tap still makes it the quickest in this test. Power delivery is more linear and the engine is the most refined and silent of the lot. The clutch is the lightest when compared to the rest and shifting gears doesn't require much effort making it a boon to drive in town. On the highway, the motor is relaxed and higher speeds are reached in no time. Even overall fuel efficiency is impressive at 16kmpl. Hyundai produce one of the best diesel units today and the Creta takes full advantage of it.

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One cannot rule out the 1.5 dCi engine found under the hood of the Duster and Terrano. It is a lot more audible but has its strong points too. On paper, this diesel motor is the least powerful both in terms of power and torque. But on the road, it's quite involving. There is a hint of turbo lag but as speeds rise, a strong surge of power comes up, making it an ideal mile-muncher. In town, it's the heavy clutch that is a letdown. I have gotten used to it since Team OD has practically lived with a Duster. The good news is that the AWD version features a slightly lighter clutch. This makes it easier to shift gears but the shorter ratios mean one has to change gears more often. Top speed also takes a hit and it's the Terrano with the longer gear ratios that boasts a higher top speed.

The 2.2-litre mHawk engine in the XUV500 is a refined and quiet unit. 140PS and 330Nm of torque even makes it the most powerful motor in this test. But the Mahindra weighs almost 700 to 800 kilograms more than the rest. It still is pretty quick for its size and impressive on the highway. The 2015 update has improved driveability at lower speeds and one can feel it especially in town. It is a lot more responsive and is in fact better suited to drive around in heavy traffic than the S-Cross and Duster/Terrano. Turbo lag isn't a concern and the clutch isn't as heavy. The gearbox though is still crude to operate and doesn't go well with the refined motor. Overall fuel efficiency of 13.1kmpl is the least of all but total range is as good as the rest thanks to a larger fuel tank.

Ride and handling

The Duster AWD and the XUV500 are the only SUVs here that offer a fully-independent rear suspension. However the Duster AWD makes better use of the suspension. The Mahindra is happy only on a smooth highway. In fact, the Terrano that uses a torsion beam setup like the regular Duster is better off at gliding over potholes and rough sections. Where does the Creta and S-Cross fit then? The Hyundai is as good as the Duster and Terrano but since the suspension setup is softer, it rides better at slower speeds. The S-Cross is setup more towards the firmer side and though it doesn't ride as well, is balanced well.

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In terms of handling, the Duster and Terrano are still the most involving to drive. The steering is most precise despite the strong kickback especially over undulated surfaces. High-speed stability is spot on while braking is impressive. The Creta's steering is light and good at slower speeds but as speeds rise, the feedback that one expects is missing. There is more body roll too and it isn't well planted at high speeds. Since the S-Cross is the successor to the SX4 internationally, one expects the car to shine in terms of dynamics. However, the electric steering isn't as direct and at higher speeds the chassis doesn't feel well balanced. Bodyroll is however controlled and braking is good. The XUV500 feels heavy around corners and displays the most body-roll. High-speed stability is better when the vehicle is fully loaded.

Verdict

While every model you see here is available in various trims, we decided to compare the top-end models. The XUV500 and Renault Duster you see here are both AWD variants. While both aren't hardcore off-roaders, the system still lets one venture out into terrain where the others wouldn't. Priced at Rs 20.06 lakh, on-road, Mumbai, the XUV500 is also the most expensive of the lot. It is Rs 3 lakh more than the Duster AWD but offers two more seats, a lot more space and extra comfort features including a sunroof, electric driver seat, projector headlamps and leather seats. But if these add-ons aren't really important to you, the Duster AWD is the better choice and is a more capable off-roader too. It also makes sense over a Terrano as it gets more features and AWD for a premium of just Rs 75,000. The top-end Creta is priced at Rs 16.93lakh, that's about Rs 10,000 less than the Duster AWD. The S-cross at Rs 16.03 lakh is the most affordable of the lot but it's also overpriced, as it is essentially a large hatchback. The Suzuki is feature loaded and the 1.6-diesel is impressive but the Hyundai is a real SUV that offers a lot more features and a better diesel for a small premium.

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This battle eventually boils down to the Creta and Duster AWD. The Renault is ideal for those looking for proven SUV credentials and good dynamics, but that's where its advantages end. The Creta offers so much more. This Hyundai features better styling - both inside and out, interior quality is a class above the rest, the diesel engine offers excellent performance and refinement. Not to mention, the long list of comfort and safety features that are offered as standard equipment.

What this unmistakably indicates is that Hyundai may have entered this segment in India only recently but the Creta takes it right to the top.And needless to say, this is one SUV you would love to flaunt.

Hyundai Creta vs Maruti Suzuki S-Cross vs Mahindra XUV 500 vs Nissan Terrano vs Renault Duster


  
Hyundai Creta SX(O)
ENGINE
Type Inline-4, turbo diesel
Engine capacity(cc) 1,582
Valvetrain 4-valves/cylinder
Max power 128PS@4,000rpm
Max torque 260Nm@1,900-2,750rpm
UNDERPINNINGS
Suspension (F) MacPherson strut with coil spring
Suspension (R) Coupled torsion beam with coil spring
Brakes (Front/Rear) Disc/Drum
Tyres 215/60 R17
PERFORMANCE
0-100kmph 11.2s
Top speed 185kmph
FUEL EFFICIENCY
Highway(kmpl) 21.4
City (kmpl) 14.2
Overall (kmpl) 16
GENERAL DATA
LxWxH(mm) 4270x 1780x1630
Wheelbase(mm) 2590
Price (on-road Mumbai) Rs 16.93 lakh
  
Maruti Suzuki S-Cross Alpha 320
ENGINE
Type Inline-4, turbo diesel
Engine capacity(cc) 1,598
Valvetrain 4-valves/cylinder
Max power 120PS@3,750rpm
Max torque 320Nm@1,750rpm
UNDERPINNINGS
Suspension (F) MacPherson strut with coil spring
Suspension (R) Torsion beam with coil spring
Brakes (Front/Rear) Disc/Drum
Tyres 205/60 R16
PERFORMANCE
0-100kmph 11.8s
Top speed 189kmph
FUEL EFFICIENCY
Highway(kmpl) 23.9
City (kmpl) 14.1
Overall (kmpl) 16.5
GENERAL DATA
LxWxH(mm) 4300x1765x1590
Wheelbase(mm) 2600
Price (on-road Mumbai) Rs 16.03 lakh
  
Mahindra XUV 500 W-10 AWD
ENGINE
Type Inline-4, turbo diesel
Engine capacity(cc) 2,179
Valvetrain 4-valves/cylinder
Max power 140PS@3,750rpm
Max torque 330Nm@1,600-2800rpm
UNDERPINNINGS
Suspension (F) MacPherson strut with anti-roll bar
Suspension (R) Multilink with anti-roll bar
Brakes (Front/Rear) Disc/Drum
Tyres 235/65 R17
PERFORMANCE
0-100kmph 12.6s
Top speed 181kmph
FUEL EFFICIENCY
Highway(kmpl) 16.8
City (kmpl) 11.9
Overall (kmpl) 13.1
GENERAL DATA
LxWxH(mm) 4585x1890x1785
Wheelbase(mm) 2700
Price (on-road Mumbai) Rs 20.06 lakh
  
Nissan Terrano XV Premium
ENGINE
Type Inline-4, turbo diesel
Engine capacity(cc) 1,461
Valvetrain 4-valves/cylinder
Max power 110PS@3,900rpm
Max torque 248Nm@2,250rpm
UNDERPINNINGS
Suspension (F) MacPherson strut with coil spring
Suspension (R) Torsion beam with coil spring
Brakes (Front/Rear) Disc/Drum
Tyres 215/65 R16
PERFORMANCE
0-100kmph 12.7s
Top speed 172kmph
FUEL EFFICIENCY
Highway(kmpl) 21.6
City (kmpl) 13.9
Overall (kmpl) 15.8
GENERAL DATA
LxWxH(mm) 4331x1822x1671
Wheelbase(mm) 2673
Price (on-road Mumbai) Rs 16.27 lakh
  
Renault Duster RxZ AWD
ENGINE
Type Inline-4, turbo diesel
Engine capacity(cc) 1,461
Valvetrain 4-valves/cylinder
Max power 110PS@4,000rpm
Max torque 245Nm@ 1,750rpm
UNDERPINNINGS
Suspension (F) MacPherson strut with coil spring
Suspension (R) Multilink with coil spring
Brakes (Front/Rear) Disc/Drum
Tyres 215/65 R16
PERFORMANCE
0-100kmph 13.1s
Top speed 168kmph
FUEL EFFICIENCY
Highway(kmpl) 19.2
City (kmpl) 12.1
Overall (kmpl) 13.9
GENERAL DATA
LxWxH(mm) 4315x1822x1695
Wheelbase(mm) 2673
Price (on-road Mumbai) Rs 17.04 lakh
  

Images by Ishaan Bhataiya

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