Despite a seven-vehicle strong SUV portfolio, Mahindra struggled to make its presence felt in compact SUV terrain. Its attempts to crack this segment bore little fruit as both Quanto and TUV300 failed to garner positive response. However, things seem to have changed positively with launch of KUV100. This latest Mahindra baby has struck chord with customers and now enjoys the luxury of waiting period stretching between 2 to 6 weeks depending upon the variant and color chosen by the prospective buyer. In fact, the success of the Mahindra is good enough to push a panic button in the camp of market leader; Ford EcoSport. Ford has long held to its leadership position in compact SUV segment thanks to the undiminishing success enjoyed by EcoSport. Even today after the arrival of number of new entrants, EcoSport still generation healthy cash-flow for its Blue Oval. That said, the rising demand for KUV 100 has now drawn a clear battle lines between these two players as no one is ready to be pushed into dead end. Now to settle this supremacy debate once and for all, we at ECARDLR decided to pit both these contenders right against each other. Read on further to find out which way the balance ultimately tilts.
Design & Style & Interiors
Looks of the new Mahindra is polarizing as we are split open on its design. The KUV100 has got a bit of extra jazz in the way the car has been designed. Of course, inspiration from the larger XUV5OO is very much apparent though tiny dimensions of KUV has made the design elements a bit exaggerated. Overall, the design will find a favor with young enthusiasts though could put off conservative buyers.
Ford EcoSport, on the other hand, is far more balanced in its usage of integrating designing cues. It looks macho, has got imposing stance but doesn't overplay its hand. Its design has a unique air of sophistication which KUV feels heavily. Further, Ford gets the extra marks on fit and finishing. The facelift that EcoSport has got last year has also infused some freshness; helping the Ford to feel fresh even after been here for quite some time.
Inside the cabin, both Ford and Mahindra match equally on space. Front seats of both the cars are spacious and comfortable though we found bolstering a bit more comfortable on the Ford. Mahindra offer KUV with bench type front row in some of the variants though people still prefer the higher variants with captain seats. EcoSport is wider and taller than KUV and its wheelbase is significantly longer too. This space advantage is very much apparent at the back bench where Ford wins hands down on the space aspect. Further, Mahindra's decision to put rear door handles on the pillar has also made the cabin a bit claustrophobic.
Qualitatively Ford has used better material to lay out its cabin. Grain feels plusher in EcoSport than the very crude feel associated with the KUV. Ford also comes better equipped as its top-end trim has six airbags compared to two offered in top K8 variant of KUV. Automatic climate control in EcoSport works very efficiently compared to manual rotary knobs available in Mahindra. Other differentiating virtues of Ford include tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, driver and passenger vanity mirrors, front and rear parking sensors and leather upholstery.
EcoSport: ***** KUV1OO: *****
Engine, Transmission & Driving Dynamics
Powered by 1.2-litre 3-cylinder D75 diesel mill, KUV puts out 77 PS and 190 Nm of max power and max torque respectively. EcoSport on the other hand, draws on bigger 1.5-litre TDCi diesel motor with output rating of 100 PS and 205 Nm. The difference in the capacity is very much apparent on the road performance of the cars as Ford feels very nimble and agile compared to KUV. In isolation, performance of KUV is not at all bad though when compared against Ecosport, it pales into insignificance. The limitation of being powered by three cylinder motor is glaringly evident on highway as KUV struggles to keep up pace with very torquey Ford.
TBoth SUVs come with 5-speed manual transmission though Mahindra's positioning of gear-lever on the console comes across as a very nifty arrangement. Shifts are precise in KUV though it can't match the very assuring nature of EcoSport. Gearbox of EcoSport is very precise, direct and pinpointed and can be easily counted among the segment benchmarks. The deficiency on the power front has manifested in terms of excellent fuel-efficiency figures this Mahindra has put out. KUV comes with ARAI rated figure of 25.32 kmpl compared to 22.7 kmpl of EcoSport. Still it is Ford EcoSport that strikes a very fine balance between performance and mileage without sacrificing on either aspect.
Ford has championed Indian roads like nobody's business. EcoSport despite being having 200 mm Ground clearance rides and handles excellently. It allows the driver to push the car to its limits without losing the control. Of course, ride quality is on a bit firmer side, still it won't interfere with occupants comfort. Mahindra has learnt a lot since the days of its first generation Scorpio threatening to lose its track to new KUV which is decent kn dynamics. Still a lot of learning curve is ahead of the company before it matches the cars like Ford EcoSport.
EcoSport: ***** KUV1OO: *****
If ther is one area where KUV beats EcoSport decisively, it is on value for money. EcoSport range starts from Rs 6.80 lakh and culminates at pricier Rs 10.44 lakh for top Titanium plus diesel variant. However, KUV100 retails in range of Rs 4.45 - 6.84 lakh (all prices, ex-showroom, Delhi). Undoubtedly, Mahindra has upper hand in the price war but then Ford make up for the loss with its all-around performance and quality interiors. It feels more spacious too and way ahead of Mahindra in driving dynamics. So if you are looking only for maximum bang for your buck then Mahindra KUV100 is a way to go otherwise Ford EcoSport is still a better option by a huge margin.
EcoSport: ***** KUV1OO: *****