It's been a while since we've seen competition in the compact hatchback segment. Things went a bit silent when Maruti Suzuki launched the new Ignis, a car that would be taking the battle to the likes of the Hyundai Grand i10 and even the KUV100. It did manage to dent the sales of both the cars but then, Hyundai came out with the updated Grand i10 and of course, it brought a new face and new features to the table. However, Mahindra has been waiting and watching from the wings as the story unfolded and decided that it was high time the KUV100 got its fair share of attention. The updated KUV100, then, is out there to prove a point, but it still has to go up against the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Ignis, before it poses to be a threat to the segment leader. So, we compare both the cars to find out more.
It's the battle between the retro and the NXT. Past versus future then? Mahindra has upgraded the KUV100 and calls it the NXT. The upgrade sees it getting a new front grille, new front and rear bumpers, LED DRLs and lot more on the inside too. The facelift has done good to the KUV100 making it a better looking car than before and they're subtle so, Mahindra has achieved a lot by tweaking less and the feature additions make it a better proposition now.
How Does It Look
The Maruti Suzuki Ignis looks retro or rather conventional and this makes it stand out amidst the crowd. However, it is a compact car and that's why cabin comfort is what matters the most. The Ignis is pretty roomy and because of the tall boy stance, there is enough head and knee room that you get in the car. However, the seats are not as supportive as the one in the KUV because it's extremely soft and though you might think that it's alright, well it's not really. You won't feel for short distances but you'll definitely feel the pinch.
The KUV 100 too has a tall boy stance and is good on space too. There are cubby holes all over the car, on the door and also under on the floor. In fact, there's a bit of storage under the front passenger seat too. The space at the back is definitely better than the Ignis and it's a very nice place to be in. Beside the many small well-designed storage areas across the cabin, it also gets a larger 260-litre boot. The all black interiors suit the KUV's style and we're glad that Mahindra has listened to customers and us as regards quality of material used is concerned, because the feel and the looks on this one is way better than before. What does stick out like a sore thumb is the fact that Mahindra claims it's a six seater.
Frankly, it didn't need it, because if the middle seat in the front row can only be occupied by a child because there isn't enough legroom for an adult. But then there's another problem, if a child does sit there, you'll be left elbowing the poor chap every time you want to change gears and this is when you start to wonder why Mahindra decided to have that configuration at all.
Features On Offer
The Ignis makes no claims of being a six seater but this does not mean that the Ignis loses out on any features. It gets LED headlamps, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, automatic climate control, keyless entry, an engine start-stop button, reversing camera, 60:40 split rear seats; all of which the KUV misses out on.
There's also ABS, EBD, dual airbags and Isofix child-seat mounts. But the KUV too gets these and even gets a larger touchscreen infotainment system than before with navigation. There are reversing sensors, electric folding mirrors but unique to this car are Eco and Power driving modes and an engine start-stop system.
What's Under The Hood
So it all comes down to how both of them drive. The Ignis is powered by the familiar 74 bhp 1.3-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. The performance is punchy and the car feels much faster than the KUV because of its lightweight construction. Yes, there's a bit of lag but shift down and the power's always there at your disposal. It is louder than the KUV which tells us that the NVH on the KUV is actually very good. Though the Ignis has a firmer suspension than the KUV, it's still quite comfortable in the city but it really shows its mettle on the highway as it stays planted to the ground and is very composed over bumps it encounters.
The KUV100, is the more powerful of the two and hence there were more expectations. The diesel engine is refined and the 77 bhp, 1.2-litre engine sees power delivery in a smooth way and boost comes in early, so driving around town is a breeze. Sadly the power dies after 3000 rpm and hence power is very limited, even in the Power mode, so it won't please those who enjoy their time in the fast lane. The five-speed manual gearbox, however, is superb, smooth and light to use. There's a bit of body roll though but it goes through potholes very smoothly and there is no wayward movement inside the cabin.
What We Feel
The Ignis has more to offer though as there's automated manual transmission is available on both the petrol and diesel variants. The price for the Ignis starts at ₹ 4.54 lakh for the petrol going all the way up to ₹ 8.08 lakh for the fully loaded diesel. The KUV 100 is cheaper than that with prices starting from ₹ 4.39 lakh and the top-end costing ₹ 7.42 lakh.
The KUV100 NXT offers more practicality than the Ignis but it is not as desirable and nice to drive however, it's the Ignis that wins this battle and that's solely because of the funky design, galore of features and it's just easy as also fun to drive.
Photo Credit: Pawan Dagia