The launch of Renault Duster AWD and new Mahindra Scorpio have hit the gong of 4×4 wars again and we thought it fitting to do a price and specs comparison of the cheapest ‘family 4x4s’ you can buy right now.
The third contender is the Tata Safari (Storme) which holds the distinction of India’s first four-door 4×4. Also, at the outset, the Duster does not seem to be as good a mud-plugger like the other two vehicles here but it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Renault’s compact SUV…
Let’s take a look at the specifications and then analyse which one of these would be the best buy in the segment.
|Description||Tata Safari Storme 4×4||Renault Duster AWD||Mahindra Scorpio 4WD|
|Engine||2.2-litre diesel||1.5-litre diesel||2.2-litre diesel|
|Power||140 PS @ 4000 rpm||110 PS @ 4000 rpm||120 PS @ 4000 rpm|
|Torque||320 Nm @ 1700-2000 rpm||245 Nm @ 1750 rpm||280 Nm @ 1800-2800 rpm|
|Gearbox||5-speed manual||6-speed manual||5-speed manual|
|Front Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone Type with Coil Springs Over Shock Absorber||Independent, MacPherson with Coil Spring, Stabiliser Bar, and Double Acting Shock Absorber with Anti Roll Bar||Independent, Double Wishbone Type, Coil Springs Over Double Acting Shock Absorber|
|Rear Suspension||5-Link Suspension with Coil Springs||Independent, Multilink with Coil Spring and Double Acting Shock Absorber with Anti Roll Bar||Mutlilink Coil Spring with Anti-roll bar|
|LxWxH||4655 mm x 1965 mm x 1922 mm||4315 mm x 1822 mm x 1625 mm||4456 mm x 1820 mm x 1995 mm|
|Wheelbase||2650 mm||2673||2680 mm|
|Ground Clearance||200 mm||210 mm||180 mm|
|Tyres||235/70 R16||215/65 R16||235/65 R17|
|Turning Circle||5.4 m||5.2 m||5.65 m|
|Gross Vehicle Weight||2650||1874||2610|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||55 litres||50 liters||60 litres|
|Limited Slip Differential||Yes||No||No|
|PRICE (in INR lakh)||Rs 13.7||Rs 11.89 and 12.99||Rs 10.11 and 13.05|
The Duster has the best turning circle among the trio with the Safari taking the second spot here and the Scorpio being the vehicle that would require the most space to make a U-turn. The Renault is also the shortest of the three and its wheelbase is still much longer than the Safari and just a smidgen shorter than the Scorpio’s.
That naturally means that it is the Duster that has the shortest overhangs – a crucial factor while off-roading. The first look at the spec-sheet will tell you that it is the Safari Storme that has the clear advantage when it comes to power and torque figures with the Scorpio and Duster coming in at second and third positions, respectively.
However, when one factors in the weight of these vehicles it becomes obvious that it’s the Renault that boasts of the best power-to-weight and torque-to-weight ratios here. You’ll also notice that Mahindra has axed the Scorpio 4×4 Automatic and the new 5-speed manual gearbox does duty across all Scorpio variants. The Safari also employs a 5-speeder while the Duster comes with six cogs.
However, the Safari still stamps its authority when it comes to 4×4 running gear. It features a low range and also a limited slip differential – the Scorpio gets the former while the Duster has neither. But don’t even think for a moment that the Duster is just a pretender here; the truth is far from it, in fact.
To compensate for the absence of a low ratio, Renault has altered the gear ratios in the Duster AWD – and that would make it not much less competent than the other two in tricky off-road conditions that would demand a low range. In Auto and Lock modes the Duster’s crawling ability in the first two gears would not leave you wanting. Of course, only a rigorous test can prove it but I would still stick my neck out and say it might not be as good as the other two’s low ratios, but it should suffice.
What bolsters my confidence is the fact that the Duster trumps the other two in ground clearance stakes – from the ground, its lowest part is 10 mm higher than the Safari’s and 20 mm higher than the Scorpio’s. Plus, the Renault weighs almost 750-800 kg less than the other two, which is a good thing off-road, nine out of ten times.
Now here comes the most interesting part – whereas Tata only offers the 4×4 in top-end trim, the new Scorpio 4×4 can be had in both the base (S4) and top-end mHawk variants. The Duster AWD is offered only in the top two variants (RXL and RXZ); lower variants like Standard or RXE are not available. So, while the Safari Storme 4×4 still remains the most expensive in this group at INR 13.7 lakh, the top-end (RXZ) Duster AWD and Scorpio 4×4 are also not much behind as they both cost around INR 13 lakh each. However, the cheapest Scorpio 4×4 at around INR 10 lakh is still almost two lakh rupees cheaper than the cheapest AWD Duster!
I look at this way – if I want the best off-roader this side of 15 lakhs I would buy the Safari with my eyes closed. It offers the best off-road mechanicals and the luxurious seats will come as a bonus for my family. And I would choose the Duster AWD if I am not finicky about hard-core off-roading. Here also, the rest of my family members will appreciate the best on-road manners (in this group) of this compact SUV, helped in no small measure by the independent suspension all around, while its massive ground clearance and all-wheel-drive system will keep me out of sticky spots.
Everything being said, it is extremely hard to ignore the oh-so-awesome value-for-money proposition the Mahindra Scorpio S4 4×4 is. I would be getting an accomplished off-roader in the Scorpio (hoping that the engineers would have done something by now about the vulnerable solenoid) and since the chassis is all-new the dynamics would have become a lot better too.
A new gearbox, new interiors, amazing road presence, better-than-before ergonomics (and everything else too – yes, I am a part of that minority that likes the new Scorpio’s styling), and the fact that it is the most improved vehicle of this trio and is still the cheapest wins this battle on paper for me! Time for an actual shootout between these three then…