Tata Nexon to Kia Sonet and more: Why India loves compact SUVs


Tata Nexon to Kia Sonet and more: Why India loves compact SUVs

Compact SUVs have been driving the growth of the utility vehicle segment in the Indian passenger vehicle market a big time over the last couple of yea

Compact SUVs have been driving the growth of the utility vehicle segment in the Indian passenger vehicle market a big time over the last couple of years, prompting auto OEMs to bring new and updated products into the category.

The SUV craze is a worldwide phenomenon and India being one of the fastest-growing passenger vehicle markets globally, is witnessing a surge in demand and sales of SUVs. Buoyed by the rapidly rising demand, all the passenger vehicle manufacturers in India have launched their respective products in the SUV segment. Overall, the demand for SUVs is fuelling the growth of the Indian passenger vehicle market big time.

In 2023, more than 20 lakh SUVs were sold in India and compact SUVs contributed a large chunk in that. The reason behind the popularity of compact SUVs over other body styles as well as large SUVs is multidimensional. From affordable pricing to assertive appeal, compact SUVs have been fuelling the aspirations of consumers who want a lot more for a lot less.

Also Read : India central to global expansion plans of Skoda, all eyes on sub-compact SUV

Here are the reasons why Indian car buyers are in love with compact SUVs.


Affordable pricing is a key factor fuelling growth in the compact SUV segment in India. The SUVs in this space come priced between 5 lakh and 15 lakh (ex-showroom) slab. The compact SUVs come priced closely to the premium hatchbacks or compact sedans, which give the SUVs a pricing advantage considering the overall package they offer to customers. Besides fulfilling the buyers’ aspirational value, the compact SUVs also offer a value-for-money package.

Tough look and aspirational value

Compact SUVs come with rugged, assertive and muscular designs, irrespective of their manufacturing brands. Compared to other body styles like hatchbacks or sedans, compact SUVs bring a large and high-riding bodyline that gives these vehicles a strong road presence, which is impactful. Design elements such as muscular lines, skid plates, bold radiator grille and overall boxy look note the rugged appeal of the compact SUVs. Mixed with this is the aspiration value. Instead of buying an entry-level hatchback as the first car, many consumers prefer compact SUVs as these vehicles come as symbols of prestige and material success in a society like India.

More practicality

Compact SUVs are known to offer great practicality, which is one of the key elements behind the unprecedented growth of this segment. A major advantage of compact SUVs is the tall and high bodyline, which is highly practical considering Indian road conditions. While outside the high-riding stance means the compact SUV can tackle bumps, potholes and uneven terrains easily, inside the cabin, this translates to a higher seating position offering a better driving experience with a commanding view of the road ahead. Both the advantages at the exterior and inside of the cabin offer benefits over hatchbacks and sedans. The compact SUVs offer longer wheelbase than most hatchbacks, which means they offer greater space for occupants and luggage.

Feature-packed cabins

Compact SUVs come with cabins packed with a wide range of advanced technology-aided features. As the segment is highly competitive, all OEMs try to offer as many features as possible in their respective products in this space in an attempt to make the product more attractive and appealing to consumers. Contemporary compact SUVs come equipped with features such as automatic climate control, keyless entry, push start button, rear armrests etc. These features enhance the value for money of the car by enriching the feature-to-price ratio.


Besides the creature comfort-focused features, the compact SUVs offer a host of safety features too. Coupled with a strong monocoque chassis, the compact SUVs come loaded with safety features such as multiple airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC, hill assist, rear parking sensors, reverse camera etc. Some models come built on ladder-on-frame chassis and offer features like a 360-degree camera, TPMS, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlamps etc.

Balanced performance

Compact SUVs in India come available with some of the best engines the carmakers in the country have in their portfolio. These engines range between 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre. Available in both petrol and diesel options, the engines include peppy turbocharged units and refined naturally aspirated motors. Transmission options available in this segment too are pretty attractive. The transmission technology available in the compact SUVs in India includes manual, CVT, DCT, iMT and AMTs. All these powertrains and transmissions are highly reliable and efficient as well, making the compact SUVs appealing to consumers.

First Published Date: 27 Mar 2024, 10:24 AM IST

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