Most new buyers must have this question, hatchback or mini SUV? When it comes to deciding on which family car to buy, we consider several things before selecting a particular model. Generally we decide our new car based upon style, space, practicality, maintenance and finally safety (most Indians consider this to be an optional feature), then comes your requirements and choice and the dealership experience which finally drives you to put your bucks.
But there’s been a huge hue on SUVs lately, making this an opportunity manufacturers have set out several cross or subcompact/mini SUVs. Now if you are in the market and confused between those jacked up hatchbacks vs. a hatchback, I will quickly divulge the facts and figures to make your decision easier and also break the jinx with the SUV moniker. Let us begin by defining hatchback and mini SUV,
What is a hatchback?
Hatchback is a car body configuration with a rear door that swings upward to provide access to a cargo area. Hatchbacks may feature fold-down second row seating, where the interior can be flexibly reconfigured to prioritize passenger vs. cargo volume)-source: Wikipedia, the swinging rear door is generally a single unit forming the 5th door which gives access to the boot.
What is a mini SUV?
Mini SUV, also called subcompact SUV or subcompact crossover is a class of small sport utility vehicles with a length under and around 4,200 mm (165.4 in))-Source: Wikipedia. Basically when you jack up the ground clearance of a hatchback, you have a mini SUV or simply a hatchback on steroids.
Now that you know what we are talking about, let’s look at certain features of hatchback and mini SUVs. There can never be clear advantage or disadvantage against each other, instead I shall mention the features of both, if your personal requirements match those features your decision to settle between a hatchback and mini SUV shall be clear.
Features expected from hatchbacks:
- Fun to drive/Performance/Comfort: Hatchbacks have lower centre of gravity, restricted body roll, lower kerb weight aiding for a pleasurable handling and dynamics which can get the enthusiast in you alive. They provide some insane power to weight ratios (Abarth Punto), which can give SUVs competing twice/thrice the money sick sinus syndrome and you can get these without making a compromise to your derrieres, they have some of the segment best straight line stability.
- Updated Products: They are generally the technological and design test beds for the manufacturer, like the feature Connect Next from Tata Motors making its advancement first with hatchback/sedan, and the increasingly creative and more stylish concepts introduced with hatchbacks.
- Fuel efficiency: Petrol and diesel powered hatchbacks have always been more frugal than their SUV counterparts by a greater margin, proof being the most efficient cars retailing in India are hatchbacks.
- Cheaper: You can get the best of hatchbacks loaded to the gills, for a price you might buy an entry level mini SUV, complimenting the price tag is easier cost of ownership and maintenance.
- Parking/Manoeuvre: Hatchbacks have a smaller footprint, with excellent turning radius, making it a breeze to drive in traffic and aiding you to park at your will with its minimalistic dimensions.
Features expected from mini SUVs:
- Go anywhere ability: Do you frequently take roads less taken, with regular merry hills? Then the sprung up coils/suspension adding the ground clearance and better approach/rampover/departure angles should entail your driving to new freedom and complete peace against thuds and thaws which might be a concern on a hatchback on these roads.
- Space: There is nowhere you might be able to seat three abreast comfortably, Ecosport will be an exception. The amplified proportions of a mini SUV, graciously welcome you with a feeling of spaciousness and hauling capabilities which is far from the claustrophobia you would suffer in a hatchback.
- You sit high: If you need that commanding position when you drive, where you know what are your fellow drivers up to, also planning your overtaking manoeuvres in advance then hatchbacks should be a sore to you.
- Desirability/Image: If you are driven to nuts by those auto rickshaw and taxi drivers with their imperative reflexes, if you want to be recognized as the macho guy who is the next hero of the tinsel town then you should not lend a second thought before booking your mini SUV.
Debunking Myths, Why do Indians love SUVs?
The psychological reasons could be because of perceptions we have in terms of size, safety, practicality and image.
- Myth 1, Because of its Size:
Amplifying proportions makes most of us believe that an SUV offers more space than a hatchback, but this is not entirely true. We believe that the greater size translates into huge space enough to carry Chand Nawab, his camera man along with his camera, his Luna and what not? The truth is space differs greatly between models, for example a Honda Jazz offers more cargo room than you’d get from a Toyota Land Cruiser. Most the times, hatchbacks come with similar or a little difference in cargo space when compared to their subcompact SUV counterparts, so next time you jump to the decision, make sure you compare the cargo size with competing hatchback models.
- Myth 2, SUVs are Safer:
Safety is a very important factor, which you might consider or not, but it should be the first parameter while deciding your family car. Knowing that all the occupants will be safe in case you meet with an accident while you buy a car is important, but if you believe the gigantic proportions of an SUV is going to keep all of you safe because the bulk of the car will save you against impacts, then you are completely wrong. To clear your doubts world’s safest car is a hatchback (Volvo V40), and an impact occurs due to driver error, technical error, construction error… Considering we are a part of science, defying the laws at or against one’s will can only put you in distress, in situations like that a hatchback provides the most co-operating conditions against any kind of deviation leading to impact, due to their footprint. An SUV can prove to help you with its bulk only when you suffer a head-on-collision, buyers living with this thought kindly revisit your safety expectations.
- Myth3, They are Practical:
Planning for the night-out, long distance departures, and sudden trivia on adventurism makes you think that hauling your kapda, bister, tamboo, and rason AKA daily essentials is absolutely required to fit into your family car and quickly this translates as your definition for practicality. When practicality is defined according to the previous sentence, you end up choosing an SUV, truth is far from that except when you live far off the vile, called as city. In actual essence practicality should be breezing through city traffic, squeezing into tight parking spaces, handle the traffic with a sure footed charm and not worry about manoeuvring with elephantine structure, the above bill fits the hatchback tag perfectly, unless you want to try and get in a bit of off-road driving on the weekend. If you observe most people buy SUVs to only spend more time dealing with it in city traffic, the best possible option would be to buy a hatchback, save the difference money you would have spent on an SUV upgrade and during your weekend adventures choose an appropriate rental car. Your worst fears on getting souped during your off-road dairies would not worry your car rental service at least.
- Myth 4, Image:
Well when you compare all the above myths you end up thinking yes SUVs are the ultimate thing that can do anything for you, and that is how we created this illusion/image. Debunk the above myths and trust me you shall not regret.
If you’re still indecisive on choosing between a mini SUV and a hatchback then there’s very good reason for it, the car buying experience finally depends upon your choice and if you still feel that you need to go for specific ones despite the differences, I bet, you will not regret listening to yourself. Happy buying, hope that the above features might help you distinguish with your wants, and people with experience are welcome to guide new buyers with your response in the comment section.
Both the segments are growing and manufacturers are launching products which are essentially hatchbacks but look like SUVs, a good example is the Renault Kwid. This trend is increasing and the next in line is new Mahindra KUV100.
Depending on the priorities you should choose a hatchback or a mini SUV.
Article by Chitrajit Ganguly