The Tavera, Scorpio, Safari and Innova have been at battle for a while now. In the ultimate test, OUSEPH CHACKO finds out which reigns supreme
The SUVs in this contest should be easy to handle and comfortable for long journeys, as they will be used both on city roads and highways. In terms of seats, the Tavera’s seat height and short bonnet make it easy to drive. This car is actually the easiest to drive of the four. The Safari and Scorpio also have high seats and offer a good view of the road. The Innova’s driving position is most car-like but rear visibility needs some improvement. What the Innova has to its credit is its interiors. It is easily the best car to sit in, especially the quality of switches is superior. In contrast, the Tavera and Safari interiors are not really great. The Tavera’s interiors are tacky and it is the only one among the four that does not even have slider controls for the air con. The Safari’s interior quality if below satisfaction, the parts don’t look sturdy either. The driver’s seat in the Scorpio does not have height adjustment facility and lumbar support. But the seats are high. This makes driving easy.
Space and practicality
The Tavera and Innova have a seven-seat configuration and the Scorpio and Safari have a bench for the middle row and side-facing ‘jump seats’ at the rear. Though the Tavera’s third row folds forward to provide space for luggage, getting this done is a task as moving the row requires quite a bit of strength. The Innova’s seats on the other hand are split 50:50. So it is a far simpler system.
With regard to space, the Safari has the largest boot and is also the widest and its middle seats are the most comfortable. All four SUVs have several cubbyholes. The Tavera has big bins with a soft lining at the bottom between the front seats, so you don’t have to worry about your mobile phone or CD covers getting scratched. The Tavera and Scorpio have cup-holders between the front seats. The Tavera, however, has no storage space for rear passengers — no door pockets, none behind the front seats either.
The Tavera, Scorpio, Innova and Safari, all come with standardised power windows, steering, remote locking and air-con in their top-end models. The Scorpio SLX is the cheapest in this group and it comes with a CD/MP3/USB player, body-coloured bumpers and internal manual adjust mirrors. The Tavera SS-D1 has all of the above plus alloy wheels and fog lamps but no electric mirrors. The Innova V comes with a dashboard- integrated CD player, electric mirrors, alloy wheels, airbags for the front passenger and driver and ABS. The Safari VX comes loaded with a reversing camera, DVD player with LCD screens, two airbags, ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and alloy wheels.
Drive and handling
The key to city driving is to have a responsive engine; however, since the cars in this contest will be used on the highway as well, the engine needs to be powerful too. The Scorpio is the best performer of the four and the Scorpio and Safari both employ common-rail technology. No matter what gear you are in, the Innova briskly moves forward at a mere tap on the throttle. Furthermore, the Toyota gearshift is easily the best of the lot with a crisp shift quality. The Tavera puts out 80bhp and is even slower than the Safari and runs out of breath on the highway, especially if it is fully loaded.
The ride of the Innova is outstanding and low-speed ride is good with very few irregularities entering the cabin. As speeds increase, the Innova has an amazing ability of go over even large potholes without throwing the passengers around. The low stance also helps the handling — there’s far less body-roll than in the Scorpio or the Safari.
The Scorpio SLX will hurt you the least financially; it returns 11.3 kpl (overall) and comes with a two-year/50,000km warranty. The Innova is the most expensive car in this competition and gives 11.5 kilometres to every litre of diesel it comes with a 3-year/1 lakh kilometre warranty. The Safari comes with an 18-month/unlimited mileage warranty and returns 10.6 kpl overall. Like the Scorpio, the Tavera too comes with a two-year/50,000km warranty and delivers 12.1 kpl.
The winner of this competition is the Toyota Innova because as an overall package, it is the best of the four despite the fact that it has a high price tag. Though the Tavera is the easiest to drive, it has poor equipment levels for its price. The Safari has loads of features but the build quality is inferior and the fuel economy isn’t great either. The Scorpio is reliable but its ride is too bumpy.
TECHNICAL DATAChevrolet Tavera SS-D1Price: 10.77 lakh (On-road, Mumbai)
Engine layout: 2499cc, 4 cylinders
Max Power: 80 bhp at 3900 rpm
Max Torque: 19 kgm at 1800rpm
Top Speed: 135kph
Fuel tank capacity: 55litres
Boot capacity: 780 litres
Ground clearance: 18.4cm
Tata Safari VXPrice: 11.73 lakh (On-road, Mumbai)
Engine layout: 2956cc, 4 cylinders
Max Power: 115bhp at 3000rpm
Max Torque: 30kgm at 1600rpm
Top Speed: 144kph
Fuel tank capacity: 65litres
Boot capacity: 981litres
Ground clearance: 20.5cm
Mahindra Scorpio SLXPrice: 9.76 lakh (On-road, Mumbai)
Engine layout: 2609cc, 4 cylinders
Max Power: 115bhp at 3800rpm
Max Torque: 28.3kgm at 1700rpm
Top Speed: 152kph
Fuel tank capacity: 60litres
Boot capacity: 820litres
Ground clearance: 18.0cm
Toyota Innova VPrice: 12.18 lakh (On-road, Mumbai)
Engine layout: 2494cc, 4 cylinders
Max Power: 102bhp at 3600rpm
Max Torque: 20.39kgm at 1400rpm
Top Speed: 146kph
Fuel tank capacity: 55litres
Boot capacity: 758-1128litres
Ground clearance: 17.6cm