SUVs galore

Jeep! The minute I saw the word, my mind went into fast rewind. The first solo drive I ever had was in a World War II Jeep. A rugged, no nonsense, fighting machine where the only luxury was the canvas on seats!

SUVs  galore

MG Hector

H Kishie Singh

MG Hector

  • Fuel type: Diesel / Petrol and Hybrid 
  • Engine Displacement: 1956 cc/ 1451 cc
  • Transmission: 6-Speed MT, 6-Speed DCT, Manual
  • Capacity: Five 
  • Mileage: 17.41 kmpl/ 14.16kmpl
  • Price: Rs 12.18 lakh to Rs 16.88 lakh

Hyundai Venue 

  • Fuel type: Petrol/Diesel
  • Engine Displacement: 998 CC / 1396 cc 
  • Transmission: 5-Speed Manual, 6-Speed Manual, 7-Speed DCT
  • Capacity: 5
  • Mileage:  17 kmpl to 23 kmpl
  • Price: Rs 6.50 lakh - Rs 11.11 lakh

Jeep Compass Trailhawk

  • Fuel type: Diesel
  • Engine Displacement: 1956 cc
  • Transmission: 9AT
  • Capacity: 5
  • Mileage:  17.1 kmpl
  • Price: Rs 26.8 lakh to Rs 27.60 lakh

Jeep! The minute I saw the word, my mind went into fast rewind. The first solo drive I ever had was in a World War II Jeep. A rugged, no nonsense, fighting machine where the only luxury was the canvas on seats! It came neatly packaged in a wooden crate. My father spent a whole week putting it together. It was 1948 and I was allowed to drive the Jeep all over the farm. I took to four-wheel driving like a duck takes to water. I fell in love with the Jeep, a love affair that has endured. The Jeep taught me all about 4x4 and off-roading. The Jeep was my Guru. The Americans had left thousands of these behind, in crates, in mint condition. I inherited one.

General Eisenhower had said, “One of the reasons we won the War was the Jeep!” 

For me, the Jeep has been the quintessence of 4x4 and the latest offering, the Trailhawk, is the ‘top-top’ as Uncle Don would say. The engine is the Fiat Multi Jet Turbo 2000, tested and tried in a dozen vehicles. Its USP: You don’t have to open the bonnet for 10,000 kilometres.

Indicators on the dashboard will tell you the low level of windshield washer, coolant, engine oil, radiator, just about everything.  Normally you have to open the bonnet to check these manually. 

As a thoroughbred SUV, it performs above and beyond the call of duty.  This certification is in the form of a badge on the front right mudguard. It reads ‘Trail Rated’, earned for its off-road prowess. Select Terrain adapts to snow, sand, mud and rock (bajri)! All these surfaces present different driving characteristics and the sensor can differentiate between them. And if it can tackle these obstacles off road, be sure it will make smooth driving of city pot holes.

It has everything to make the car user friendly. Hill hold, hill start, hill descent, nine-speed ZF AT gearbox, 4 disc brakes, power adjustable and folding ORVM, engine stop-start system, which means engine cuts off at a red light, step on the accelerator, engine starts and off you go! It is probably the most serious off roader in the country. The Legend lives on!

Price: Rs 26.8 lakh to Rs 27.60 lakh

Along comes its half-brother or something like that. It is a strong relationship when you share the heart. It has the same engine as the Jeep Trailhawk, the Fiat Multi Jet 2 litre Diesel Turbo. This is the Hector from MG. The Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation, SAIC, who own the MG name, have resurrected this almost century old brand that was born in Oxford England.

There are three engine variants available for the Hector. The best option for fuel efficiency and environment-friendly would be the 1.5-litre Turbo-Charged Mild Hybrid with a 48-volt battery. This will give you 15.8 km.p.l. The same engine without Hybrid will give you 14.6 km.p.l. The 2-litre Turbo Diesel Multi Jet will give you 17.4 km.p.l.

This vehicle does not qualify as an SUV. No four-wheel drive. The manufacturer calls it the Performance SUV, otherwise Hector. Gadgets and gizmos are unlimited in the Hector. It has online navigation to give you maps, traffic updates and weather forecast. All this and much more is possible because of the 4G SIM embedded in the car, referred to as M2M, machine-to-machine with Internet Protocol. 

Unlimited music pop, rock, Hindi, western classical — all at your voice command. Yes, voice command! The Hector has 100 voice commands to run the car. Example:

Driver: Hello MG. (You must say this to activate the request)

Sweet voice: Hi! How may I help you?

Driver: Open the sunroof. (It slides open. But then it starts to rain)

Driver: Hello MG, close the sunroof! (Nothing happens)

Driver: Hello MG, please close the sunroof. The roof slides shut.

By this time you are wet and you have had a lesson in manners!

You can raise or lower windows, change AC settings, fan speeds, select music and make phone calls too.

Price: Rs 12.18 lakh to Rs 16.88 lakh  

Then there is the Wannabe! Wannabe what? Hyundai calls it the Unique Compact SUV. This is the Venue. It is sub 4-metre long. It is a sedan-cum-hatchback that is made to look like an SUV. And therein lies its appeal to the practical buyer. 

It is neat, good looking and compact. Actually, it is a Baby Creta. In other words, the build quality is top-notch. All the bits and pieces are good, which means what appealed to me was the design, the shape and the placing of lights, both rear and front, which are projector type. The front grill is well shaped. The finish is black chrome. The rims, 16-inch diamond cut alloys are spectacular. 

The interiors are typically Hyundai, practical and functional. Tilt steering, sunroof, airbags and two very comfortable seats in front. What is the most unusual and the first in the country is the Internal Rear View Mirror. It has Blue Links connectivity and connected cars are the in-thing today!

The Internal RVM has three buttons. One of the buttons is the SOS. In case there is a medical emergency or a crash, you can call an ambulance. There is a road side assistance button. This will connect to Hyundai. Great for women who need help to change a tyre!  The third button connects you to a call centre. 

Price:  Three engines are offered. A 1200 cc petrol gives 18 km.p.l and 17 km.p.l with auto gearbox. It is priced at about Rs 6.5 lakh. 

1000 cc Turbo petrol engine. Price Rs 8.21 lakh for manual. Rs 9.35 lakh for auto gearbox.

1400 cc Diesel Engine. Price Rs 7.75 lakh. This gives an average of 23 km.p.l. The auto gearbox is a 7-speed DCT.

There are SUVs galore but it’s not possible to change the Indian buyer’s demands. I asked a woman whose family was clambering in and out of the car, as to which vehicle were they planning to buy.

 Said she, “Pata nahi. Gaddi theek hai, pur average kuchch nahi!”


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