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Why Is India So Obsessed With Compact SUVs?

If you take a stroll any time of the day(of course with your mask on) and look; you’ll see that 7 out of 10 cars on the road are sub-compact SUVs. The trend is grown so much that every single carmaker is focusing on making their best version of the baby SUV. Companies that were not really known for SUVs in India like Honda(as compared to Mahindra) also have the WR-V as their warrior. But why is the case? Why is the segment taking over the whole nation? We had GoMehanic are here to explain; why do Indians have a love affair with compact SUVs?

Suggested Read: India’s Undying Love For Hatchbacks

Hyundai Venue IMT Review
Hyundai Venue IMT
  1. How it all started…

    Dial it back 15 years from now; sedans and hatchbacks were used to sell like hotcakes in India. Cars like Premier Rio and Ford Fusion tried their luck to change the automotive scenario but were absolutely rejected by the Indian car market.

    But then in 2013, something amazing happened. While hatchbacks were seen as entry-level cars, sedans usually used to be costly and not really practical for city driving. So what would an Indian with 7-8 lakhs on his hand do? Ford had the answer.

    Why do Indians have a love affair with sub compact SUVs
    Ford Ecosport

    They launched the ‘Ecosport’, a brand new class of car with all the practicality of a hatchback, all the comfort of a sedan and the rugged image and sense of ‘alpha-ness’ of an SUV. It was like a 3 in 1 combo pack, and we sure know how Indians feel about combos.
    People went absolutely bonkers when they first saw it on the roads and were astonished that they are so versatile. The Ecosport became one of India’s best selling cars. This success was followed by carmakers launching excellent sub-compact SUVs, the most recent case being the new Tata Nexon and the Hyundai Venue.

    How Subcompact SUVs Took Over Sedans With Time

  2. Compact SUV Advantages

    Its not just the alpha image that comes with these cars(no offence people cars are not gender-specific, my sister drives a Gloster) but there are actual advantages of these cars over other segments-

    • High ground clearance

      In India where most of the roads are filled with potholes; you need a car that has high ground clearance. And this is where the sub-compact SUVs come in. They have higher ground clearance than the sedans and hatchback in their price range, making them a more practical choice on Indian roads.

      Top Indian Sub-Compact SUVs With The Best Road Presence!

    • More Comfort

      We are not saying that sedans are not comfortable, but because of a higher stance they usually have better headroom and since they have a softer suspension setup than a sedan, they feel less bumpy especially on rural roads.

    • Similar or better specs

      Hyundai Venue

      Since the market is dominated by these SUVs, companies invest heavily in R&D to make them better and to fight off the competition. The result? Better specs with every update. For example, no sedan saw connected car technology before a subcompact SUV, Venue, had it. You get the hint right?

    • More sporty

      Kia Sonet

      These SUVs usually get an engine from their sedan counterpart. Now obviously if you put a big engine in a smaller car, it will make the car more responsive and sporty. Case in point; the Kia Sonet. The turbo variant produces 118 bhp which is more than enough to have some fun!

      5 Ways the Kia Sonet is better than the Hyundai Venue

  3. Disadvantages

    • Poor driving dynamics

      XUV 300

      Compared to sedans, they don’t have impressive driving dynamics. They don’t feel as premium as sedans and they feel kind of chunky while driving on the highway.

    • The whole image

      They are often considered as pseudo SUVs and are laughed upon for being a wannabe. But that’s your perception. (We think, sub-SUVs are cool.

  4. Are they worth the money?

    In one word, definitely. They are good to look at, have all the features you need, gives a rugged feel and are fairly easy to maintain. Hell, sometimes they are even cheap than a hatchback look at the Renault Kiger and Nissan Magnite) so overall do make sense money-wise and we all know that value for money is the most important aspects among Indians.

    Top Selling Subcompact SUVs in India – Feb 2021

  5. Future

    While the automotive industry is a volatile one, where things can change overnight; it is safe to say that there the future of these SUVs is pretty bright. There is a shift towards ‘micro-SUVs’ now which will be the next step in the evolution.

    I believe now it will be much clear to you why these machines are selling like hotcakes. Share your opinion and experiences about sub-compact SUVs in the comment section below. Till then this was why Indians have a love affair with compact SUVs.

    Checkout-10 Subcompact SUVs In India With The Best Looking Alloy Wheels!

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Vatsal Tripathi
Vatsal Tripathi
Part-time human Full-time car enthusiast


  1. Why here in gomechanic you say ecosport started it all, it was duster that started it all. Please correct yourself.

    • Hi Richesh,
      To begin with both the cars sit in a very different segment. Where the Ford Ecosport is a sub-compact SUV, the duster belongs to the compact SUV segment. And yes both of the cars were among the first cars in their respective segments. Stay Pinned! 🙂


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