Only a while ago, an entirely new class of vehicles started gaining popularity in our market. This new class was compact SUV. These vehicles come with small but fairly powerful engine, high ground clearance, capable suspension, hatchback like dimensions and attractive price tag. These compact SUVs are giving competition not only to the low end SUVs but also some of the diesel hatchbacks and compact sedans.
The reason this new class is becoming popular is because they tick just the right boxes. The road conditions in our country don’t really allow low ground clearance vehicles to survive for long and the compact SUVs offer high ground clearance. A small engine, in most cases a diesel under 1500 cc is efficient but has enough power to serve the vehicles. And then the sub 4 metre length is another factor that helps manufacturers save on excise duties. Longer vehicles attract a higher excise duty and by keeping the vehicles under 4 metres, they can bring down costs by transmitting the excise duty benefits to the customers.
Ford Ecosport is one popular compact SUV being sold in our market and it will soon by joined by many other vehicles like VW Taigun, Maruti XA Alpha and the Mahindra S101. The S101 will be Mahindra’s entry in this popular segment as they try to go against the big guns. Recent spy shots reveal that it will carry design cues from their popular model XUV 500. The spy shots show the car covered in camouflage so minor details aren’t revealed but still they give a very good idea of the overall vehicle profile.
It has a flat roof and the rear windscreen is slightly tapered towards the end. The dimensions are similar to Quanto. Some other spy shots revealed that inside the car, it has a dashboard mounted gear lever. This would free up space on the floor which might find some other uses. Mahindra is working on developing a petrol engine for this vehicle. We will see a 1.2 litre engine developed jointly with their South Korean subsidiary, SsangYong Motors. It is expected to be a three cylinder engine. Obviously it will come with a diesel engine option as well. The engine would be the same engine that we see on the Mahindra Quanto.
The engine inside Quanto is a 1500 cc turbocharger unit. It develops an impressive 100 bhp of peak power and a peak torque of 240 Nm which is spread from 1600 to 2800 rpm. We expect the S101 to come with this engine offering similar performance numbers. For this new vehicle, it is rumoured that they have developed an entirely new platform. It is a monocoque construction similar to the XUV 500. This improves the vehicle dynamics as compared to a body on ladder or semi monocoque type construction. The vehicle is still being tested by Mahindra and is expected to be launched somewhere around the mid of 2015 or maybe even later. For now, Mahindra is planning to launch the refreshed version of Scorpio soon.