. MG Hector (Diesel top end)- Unfortunately the diesel top end had only a manual variant. The car looked spacious and as we all know tech-laden. A bit of soft touch materials at a few touch points. Not expecting much in a car of this segment. The manual gear shift was not smooth and I did not quite like the driving experience. Maybe it's because they did not maintain the test drive car well? Not sure. There was enough power delivered for a common man by the 2.0L Turbocharged diesel engine producing a max power of approx. 167 BHP and 350 nm of peak torque.
2. Kia Seltos and Hyundai Creta - The moment I got into these cars after the MG Hector , I felt like the whole world had shrunk on me. There was very little space being offered. I could not find any soft touch materials used. Tech-laden just like Hector . Has a slight edge over the Hector with the availability of an automatic gearbox. Also some will find the compactness of the cars to its advantage.
3. Tata Harrier - Over all a good car. Has adequate power from the Fiat engine. Good job with the design. Better looking than most of the SUVs out there. Definitely lags behind in terms of tech to its rivals. Lots of scope for improvement when it comes to fit and finish and attention to detail. When you look closer you will see what I am talking about in the exterior. Did not test drive the Safari as its just the matter of some more space and connected tech. And personally I prefer the design of the Harrier over the Safari.
4. Jeep Compass - Jeep has nailed the interiors of Compass this time. It was high time that the car needed an upgrade. Good to see the use of soft touch materials. Lots of connected tech. Same Fiat engine mated to a 9 speed automatic. You won't find much space inside. The steering felt heavy and the gearbox was not slick. I was not impressed with the driving experience delivered especially because it's a car with a hefty price tag compared to the rest.
5. Mahindra Thar - Felt nice to be seated in such a commanding position. Great job Mahindra with both the petrol and diesel engines. Very well refined engines and the automatic gearbox combination also works well. But definitely not a first car and you compromise heavily on the comfort and practicality front. I was sure that was not what I wanted.
6. Skoda Kushaq - First offering from Skoda in their India 2.0 programme with heavy localization. VW groups bread and butter 1.5L engine mated to 7 speed DSG version of the Kushaq performs well and is definitely a fun to drive car. It is compact. Full of hard plastics and felt like it was priced a bit high. Another downside is the absence of diesel engines with the whole Volkswagen group.
7. Volkswagen T-Roc - Really liked the car. Compact and highlights the German standards of quality. Typical VW design and it looked better than Kushaq for me from all angles. It is overpriced as it comes as a CBU, but the performance, ride and handling you get in the car is exceptional. The 1.5L engine mated to 7 speed DSG is a treat. For that price point, you might get disappointed with the usage of soft touch materials inside. Another downside is the absence of diesel engines with the whole Volkswagen group.
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