SUV for Rs 23 lakh: Buy Kia Seltos or extend budget to Mahindra XUV700

The SUV will be an upgrade to my 2015 Volkswagen Vento.

BHPian The Alchemist recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Prelude

I’m currently driving a 2015 Volkswagen Vento and it has served me well over the years. I have taken it to places where you normally won’t take a sedan, and it did amaze me during every one of those trips. At the same time, I had an itch to upgrade to something bigger and I held on to that itch for more than a year. Finally, I think it is time to upgrade and hope that I can get back to long road trips once again, which were on hold since lockdown days – partially due to Corona and partially due to the arrival of the little one to the family. I was a bachelor going on joyrides when I bought the Vento, but the family has grown since then. Now we are a family of 3 (the little one is 2 years old), and also, occasionally I am in situations where I have to accommodate parents, in-laws, or siblings. Vento simply cannot accommodate 5, especially since the little one is using a relatively big baby car seat (OT: I recommend Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 if anybody is looking to buy one). I want to buy an SUV/Crossover this time, considering various parameters. Vento was an excellent handler and it put a smile on my face whenever I pushed it hard. While I can’t expect an SUV to handle the same way, I would like to pick the best one possible.

Priorities

  • Safety: Our highways are getting chaotic day by day and having active and passive safety features brings some peace of mind.
  • Performance & Handling: I enjoy driving and while I can enjoy any car, a powerful engine & tight handling capabilities would make it even more fun.
  • Automatic: I still enjoy manual transmission and believe it gives even more control on winding roads, but my left leg is not so happy these days. I intend to keep this purchase for long, and hence automatic is the way to go.
  • Comfortable seating for 5: As I mentioned earlier, I need to accommodate at least 5 people in comfort occasionally.
  • Solid & lasting build quality: I intend to keep this purchase for at least 10 years, and hope that it ages gracefully during that period. While new-gen cars are full of electronics and software niggles are a given, I expect the car to be mechanically solid and reliable.
  • Features: Not a top priority, but wouldn’t want to downgrade from the comfort features I’m currently used to such as automatic climate control, cruise control, etc. Any other features to stay updated on the current car scene are welcome.
  • Headlights: This is one other thing I’m very particular about. I had to upgrade the lights in my Vento and despite spending good money, I was not happy with it. Good factory-fitted headlights would save trouble.

The hunt so far

I started my search with a budget of 20-23 Lakhs and almost finalized on Kia Seltos more than a year ago. I had gone over the forum and youtube videos multiple times and decided this is the best choice available. That is when GNCAP crash testing results were released for Seltos. All the confidence I had was washed away, and I was not so convinced anymore.

That is when I heard about Kushaq. I was eagerly following the build-up to the car launch and all was good until I saw the car. There were 2 major causes for the disappointment. First of all, it didn’t really feel like an upgrade from Vento. And secondly, the space available in the second row was best suited for 2. That meant that if you are using a baby car seat, the second person itself would feel the lack of space. I checked out the Taigun as well, but the same story repeated, although it was obvious.

I wasn’t following XUV700 until its release, to be honest. One fine day in August last year, I came across some youtube review videos, and it got my attention immediately. I casually made some inquiries on their website and the SA got in touch with me. Long story short, I’ve got a booking of XUV700 AX7L AWD Diesel AT, which is slated to arrive in July or August, although I wasn’t looking to book one initially. It was just a placeholder booking considering the waiting list and I didn’t want the waiting period to be a parameter during the final shortlisting. The downside? This would cost me close to 30 lakhs on road, despite having price protection. Taxes in Kerala are way too high.

The dilemma

I’m starting to realize that my original budget of 23 Lakhs may not get me what I want in the current market. Unfortunately, it is a seller’s market now and is expected to continue the same way for a couple more years. Inflation doesn’t seem to ease out in near future either, driving up the cost of cars further. 30 Lakhs still seem like a lot of money.

Are there any cars that match my requirements? Apart from the one I already mentioned above I have considered Harrier, Safari and Compass. Harrier/Safari’s driving dynamics didn’t appeal to me during my short drives in the car and I felt the steering is counter-intuitive. Don’t get me wrong, I like tight steerings, but the Safari that I drove had steering which became lighter as the speed increased. Is it a one-off case or a standard trait of the Harrier-safari duo? Compass felt way too overpriced for what is essentially a compact SUV.

Did I miss anything on the lower budget levels? I obviously liked the XUV700, so should I go ahead with it if and when one gets allocated to me? Or should I try something else?

Thank you for reading. Please share your thoughts & thanks in advance.

Here’s what BHPian saisree had to say on the matter:

Looking into your priorities, and the complaints on the seating at the rear bench along with that big baby car seat, You should be looking at XL6 or Kia Carens. No Pseudo SUV in our market can seat three comfortably on the rear bench. The other option is to get a smaller baby seat and look into a sedan like CITY which is a benchmark in rear-seat comfort, left side of 20 Lakhs.

Here’s what BHPian MegaWhat had to say on the matter:

I was in the same boat till a few months back. I drive a Polo – and just like in your case – the car has taken me places where you would not expect a Polo to go. I was looking for an upgrade as well and tried out some “High seating cars” where my shortlist included the Seltos, Compass, Taigun & Nexon. The one that struck the chord as close as the Polo did was the Compass. Even the base model is quite capable and feels like an upgrade.

I ditched the plan to buy though considering current rates and plan to hold on to the Polo for a couple more years. But if I could have bought a car now, it probably would be the Compass. I know I would’ve enjoyed the car – despite the rattles that many owners have mentioned.

Here’s what BHPian Shreyans_Jain had to say on the matter:

Car prices have increased tremendously since you bought your Vento. For any meaningful upgrade, you will have to spend close to 30L. Cars like City and Carens and XL6 will feel like a downgrade to a person used to Vento. If you are finding the Compass cramped and are not impressed by the driving dynamics of the Safari, then by elimination you are only left with the XUV700. The direct upgrade from your Vento is the new Octavia, but that will be 30+.

Two possible alternatives. The new Scorpio-N. Bookings open on the 27th but expect another long wait. And the usual niggles that come with a brand new Mahindra. Else, wait for the upcoming new Hyundai Tucson. Always better to go for a genuine international model, they are sorted in a way no desi car ever is.

Here’s what BHPian SoumenD had to say on the matter:

You have already booked the correct car mate. No point in thinking anymore. XUV700 is the best you can get under 30L today for your needs of safe, FTD & spacious crossover

The only other alternatives are Safari & Innova. The former isn’t GNCAP tested yet and the latter isn’t as fun as what general consensus is.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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