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CLASH OF THE TITANS The four SUVs come face to face in the ultimate test
CLASH OF THE TITANS The four SUVs come face to face in the ultimate test

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.

Equipment

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.

Fuel economy

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.

Verdict

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

0-60: NA

0-100: 24.0secs

CFE: 12.15kpl

Fuel tank capacity: 55litres

Boot capacity: 780 litres

Length: 443.5cm

Width: 168cm

Height: 176.5cm

Wheelbase: 268.5cm

Weight: 1660kg

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

0-60: NA

0-100: 19.54secs

CFE: 10.6kpl

Fuel tank capacity: 65litres

Boot capacity: 981litres

Length: 481cm

Width: 191.8cm

Height: 192.5cm

Wheelbase: 265.0cm

Weight: 2040kg

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

0-60: NA

0-100: 16.53secs

CFE: 11.3kpl

Fuel tank capacity: 60litres

Boot capacity: 820litres

Length: 449.5cm

Width: 170.0cm

Height: 197.5cm

Wheelbase: 268.0cm

Weight: 1980kg

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

0-60: NA

0-100: 17.5secs

CFE: 11.5kpl

Fuel tank capacity: 55litres

Boot capacity: 758-1128litres

Length: 455.5cm

Width: 177cm

Height: 175.5cm

Wheelbase: 275.0cm

Weight: 1590kg

Ground clearance: 17.6cm

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