Who Wins The Tech Battle Among Sub-Compact SUVs?

Technology August 2019 Comparison Tech Battle Sub-Compact SUV Tata Nexon Hyundai Venue Mahindra XUV 3OO

India has been witnessing a gradual shift in customer preference towards sub-compact SUVs. Having sub-compact SUVs in its line-up has become a ‘must-have’ for OEMs looking to capture a piece of this ever-growing market pie. Hyundai was the latest to add its name to a list of manufacturers offering sub-compact SUVs in India, and has left no stone unturned to ensure its success. But how does it compare to its competitors – the Tata Nexon and the Mahindra XUV300? Let’s find out.

The latest entrant in the sub-compact SUV club is the Hyundai Venue, a product that seems to be defying market trends to set new sales records. The Hyundai Venue not only offers the highest power figures among its competitors, but also offers all this on a smaller engine that is stated to be more efficient. Adding zing to the car, the company has offered a host of connected features that set it apart from the herd.

To assess the capabilities of the Hyundai Venue we decided to test it alongside two sub-compact SUVs that offer triple digit power figures. For this comparison we lined up the Tata Nexon powered by a 1.2 l, three-cylinder, turbo petrol engine and the Mahindra XUV300 with a 1.2 l, three-cylinder, turbo petrol engine alongside the Hyundai Venue with a 1.0 l, three-cylinder, turbo petrol engine. We conducted multiple runs to assess the acceleration and braking performance of all three sub-compact SUVs. Further, we also measured the air-conditioning performance of the Nexon, XUV300 and the Venue.

ENGINE & PERFORMANCE

It is interesting to note that all three manufacturers have made use of an in-line three-cylinder layout on their turbocharged petrol motors fitted to these compact SUVs. But where the 1.0 l petrol engine on the Hyundai Venue is different from the larger 1.2 l mills on the Nexon and the XUV300 is the fuel delivery system. While the engines on the Nexon and XUV300 use multi-point fuel injection (MPFI) systems, Hyundai has opted to use the gasoline direct injection (GDI) technology in the 1.0 l unit powering the Venue. The primary difference being a multi-point injection of fuel in the intake tract or cylinder port versus a high pressure direct injection into the cylinder at a much higher pressure for better combustion efficiency and lesser emissions.

While the Hyundai Venue is quicker to reach a 100 km/h, the XUV300 is the fastest off the line

With its 1.0 l turbo petrol GDi engine, the Hyundai Venue offers 118 hp at 6,000 rpm and roughly 171 Nm of torque from 1,500-4,000 rpm. On the other hand, the Mahindra XUV300 and the Tata Nexon both with 1.2 l mills offer roughly 108 hp at 5,000 rpm. But while the Tata Nexon’s motor delivers 170 Nm of torque between 1,750-4,000 rpm, the 1.2 l unit on the Mahindra XUV300 offers 200 Nm between 2,000-3,500 rpm. The GDi engine in the Hyundai Venue produces the most power out of the three motors. However, the 1.2 l turbo petrol engine on the Mahindra XUV300 boasts of the highest torque figures. In the 0-100 km/h acceleration test, the Hyundai Venue was the quickest, which accelerated to reach the triple digit mark in 11.93 s. On the other hand, both the Nexon and the XUV300 took over 12 s to achieve 100 km/h. The Nexon recorded a time of 12.64 s, while the XUV300 was able to accelerate to a 100 km/h fractionally quicker at 12.47 s.

The Mahindra XUV300 is the quickest off the line and touches the 10 km/h mark in just 0.67 s, followed by the Venue and Nexon. But the Hyundai Venue is quicker to 60 km/h than the Nexon and the XUV300. While the Venue took 5.11 s to attain 60 km/h, the Nexon took 6.03 s and the XUV300 recorded a time of 5.57 s. During these tests we also evaluated the braking performance of all three compact SUVs. It is interesting to note that while the XUV300 is quicker to bring the speed down from 100-50 km/h, the Hyundai Venue was the quickest to stop from 100 km/h, recording a time of 4.36 s. The Venue was followed by the XUV300 at 4.60 s and the Tata Nexon at 4.61 s.

While acceleration on all three sub-compact SUVs was smooth, we appreciated the crisp gear shifts in the Venue and XUV300. In the Tata Nexon, we found the suspension to be more adept at handling broken roads and potholes than the other two contenders. The steering on the Venue was light and zippy. However, the XUV300 with its unique steering modes system was better than the rest, in terms of drivability and handling. In our performance evaluation, the Hyundai Venue came out on top and with its GDI technology it also proved to be a little more fun to drive than the other two contenders.

Hyundai has also surpassed competition when it comes to braking performance

AIR-CONDITIONING TEMPERATURE PERFORMANCE

In this comparison review we also tested the air-conditioning performance of all three compact SUVs. Both the Hyundai Venue and the Tata Nexon come with rear air-conditioning vents, while the XUV300 misses out on that feature. All three vehicles were left under the sun for 30 min, after which we measured the surface temperatures in four seating zones of the cabin. The highest average surface temperatures were recorded in the Hyundai Venue standing at 53.3 °C, followed by the Mahindra XUV300 at 51.15 °C and then the Tata Nexon at 49.55 °C.

Within two minutes of the air-conditioning running at its optimal capacity, the average surface temperatures in the seating zones of each cabin fell to 41 °C. We recorded the lowest average in the Mahindra XUV300 that was noted at 41.12 °C, followed by the Tata Nexon at 41.42 °C and finally the Hyundai Venue at 41.57 °C. However, within four minutes of this test, we noted that the Hyundai Venue was performing better than the Tata Nexon, but the Mahindra XUV was still comparatively better than both.

By the time we concluded this test at the 10th min, we noted that the Mahindra XUV300 had the lowest average surface temperatures in the four seating zones of the cabin. Average surface temperatures in the seating zones recorded in the Tata Nexon stood at 31.37 °C, while in the Hyundai Venue these were recorded at 27.95 °C and marginally better than the Venue was the XUV300’s performance at 27.22 °C. However, this is not indicative. Once the test had concluded, we noted a difference of nearly 3-4 °C in the front seating zones of the Mahindra XUV300 in contrast to the Hyundai Venue. We concluded this test with the XUV300 coming out on top. If the XUV300 had a rear air-conditioning system, it would be a sure shot winner.

SUMMARY

All three sub-compact SUVs have a lot to offer to its customers, but each carry their own unique traits that make them special. In terms of features, Hyundai, Tata & Mahindra have loaded up all their offerings with adequate tech to keep users connected and comfortable. But Hyundai has gone above and beyond with features such as remote engine start/stop, remote air-conditioning and even remote engine immobalisation in case of a theft. We also measured headroom and shoulder room in all three cabins and found that the XUV300 offered the most headroom for front seat passengers, while the Hyundai Venue offered the most headroom for rear seat passengers. The Tata Nexon offered the most shoulder room in front as well as rear seats.

TEXT: Joshua David Luther