SUVs have generated a lot of interest amongst buyers in India recently. The segment has been growing at a rapid pace and this has triggered the interest of the car manufacturers. No wonder we see a whole bunch of cars in this segment - the Renault Duster, Nissan Terrano, Tata Safari Storme and the Mahindra XUV and Scorpio.
Car makers though want to take the experience of driving an SUV to a whole different level and that's when the 4x4 variants come into to the picture and so we look at the two latest cars which have made things exciting. We do a specification comparo between the new Renault Duster AWD and the new Mahindra Scorpio.
Let's be frank here, Renault owes its success in India to the Duster. It is an ideal urban SUV - compact, good ride quality and can be driven with ease. The Renault Duster is on offer with both petrol and diesel engines. But let's talk about the AWD in specific here.
To begin with, it gets a unique set of alterations that sets it apart from the regular car. It gets what Renault calls 'Anthracite' alloy wheels, darkened head-lamp clusters and matte black B-pillars on the RxZ trim. Of course, the company was careful enough to give it some AWD badges at the rear, so there's no scope of confusion. The dimensions of the car too remain the same and the ground clearance of 210mm helps it sit up high enough, so scraping the belly is out of the question (unless you really want to).
Now, to talk about what the car is all about - the AWD system. There's the new electronically controlled 4x4 system, which Renault calls the i-Drive Technology. I am guessing your first thought was 'BMW?', but no, there is no relation. That said, the Duster AWD also receives independent suspension at all four corners.
When I first drove the standard Duster, I felt the clutch was slightly heavy, but the one in the AWD feels different. It is comparatively lighter and hence comfortable to drive. Renault has shortened the gear ratios on the 4x4; especially the first gear, which gives it a significant advantage. You realise how important this is, when you take the car off-road since it is now easier to crawl down steep slopes. Then there is the ESP and Anti-Skid Resistance that help you get out of slippery conditions.
The AWD selector knob: 2WD, Auto and Lock. While '2WD' keeps it permanently front-wheel driven, 'Auto' sends a part of the power to the rear wheels when the system detects that the front wheels are losing traction. 'Lock', on the other hand, keeps the hardware in 4x4 mode up to around 60Km/h, after which, it shifts back to 'Auto' mode.
So, yes, it does a fair bit of off-roading and the 1.5-litre diesel with 109bhp helps it wade through tough terrains but then again, it is up against a formidable off-roader, which for years is at the helm of affairs. Yes, I am talking about the Mahindra Scorpio.
There are already 2 lakh cars on the road and Mahindra has come up with a newer, beefier version. In terms of looks, the Scorpio maintains the meanness that it had. Most people have loved the new look of the Scorpio, however, opinions may differ. The new Scorpio is marginally smaller in size than the Safari Storme but considerably larger in proportions than the Duster, Terrano and the EcoSport. The new Scorpio comes in two diesel engine options - the 2.5-litre four-cylinder m2DiCr which is part of the base variant while the more powerful, tried and tested 2.2-litre mHawk engine powers the rest of the range which churns out 120bhp.
The Scorpio is an off-road machine and making it that is the independent suspension up front and the multi-link coil spring setup at the rear. Don't forget, that Mahindra had developed an all-new chassis for this next-gen model which is lighter and stiffer and then there are the anti-roll bars both front and back.
While the rest of the stats below clearly show that the Scorpio is a bigger car, in the scheme of things it is also a formidable off-roader. The choice is hence a clear one. If you already owned a Scorpio, you would love this one, because there is nothing understated about its looks. It seats 7 while the Duster seats just 5. The Scorpio also comes packed with technology and Mahindra uses that too as its USP. The Duster is new to this game while the Scorpio has a 12-year long fan following and experience.
These figures however, may or may not translate into the way both the cars perform in real world conditions. That review will be up as soon as we get our hands on both the cars but till then the figures are here to compare.