The things that pop up in our head imagining the Indian Roads are bumps, potholes and in the end no roads. On a positive note, no wonder SUVs are getting on everyone’s nerves lately. It takes much more than just high ground clearance to make an SUV good for the Indian roads. It is the suspension we are after here. So, here are the vehicles that offer really good ride quality over bad roads, or rather no roads at all.
Types of Suspensions
Before getting started let me tell you what difference does a suspension have on bad roads. For one, the most important factor is which type of suspension is used in the SUV. This can be divided into two categories:
Here in India, most of the vehicles come with independent suspension (McPherson Struts) in the front and get a non-independent (Torsion Beam) suspension setup at the rear. Well, it is the independent suspension that provides a better and plusher ride inside the cabin. Just for you to know, it is the McPherson Strut suspension in the front and torsion beam at the rear. On the contrary, non-independent suspension sure gives an un-compromised ride but there does exist a difference. That said, the important factor that the car manufacturers use non-independent setup is the ‘cost’. These are cheaper than their independent counterparts.
Now let’s begin and see which are cars tailored in India that have the suspension best suited for our road conditions.
Cars That Suit the Typical Indian Roads
Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza
Unlike any other vehicle, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is one of the most potent vehicles running on the Indian roads. This comes down to not just the suspension but also how they are tuned. The dampers and the springs are set in such a way that it absorbs most of the bumps and dampen the vehicle’s vertical movement. High ground clearance also gives the SUV more suspension travel that allows the engineers to tune it on the softer side.
There are vehicles on the Indian road that do not need any introduction whatsoever. Well, one such rugged companion is the Renault Duster. By its name, it gets quite clear about the nature of the car. That said, Renault Duster has plush suspension hardware that it just glides over the bad section of the road. When sitting in a duster you won’t feel any bumps or potholes. They are the larger ones that filter through, well no one can save you from them though. This was about the standard Duster but Renault had, exactly ‘HAD’, another trick up its sleeves. Renault Duster came with an AWD system. This is where the multi-link suspension does the talking. This is a type of independent suspension that allows precise tuning of the suspension and damper frequency coupled with the drivetrain.
Long story short, Nissan Kicks is based on the Renault Duster. So, it is super evident that both of them share similar dynamics. Both also have similar suspension and chassis stiffness. That said, Nissan with its even higher ground clearance, allows a little more suspension travel. You have to drive it before you believe it. Nissan Kicks handles like a dream and just sails over the bad patches of roads. For reference the Kicks boasts of a 210mm of ground clearance, well that is a tad bit more than that of the Mahindra Scorpio. That said, Nissan Kicks with the right power and drivetrain combo makes it a really good choice for the ones seeking adventure when going into the wild. For you to know, Nissan Kicks gets an independent suspension up front and a non-independent suspension at the rear.
The Koreans have a surprise entry into this list, as the Hyundai Creta is more of a sophisticated soft-roader rather than an off-roader. PS. it is not the serious off-roading we are talking about here. This so-called ‘SUV’ for the urban jungle does more than what it was tailored for. The high seating position and a suspension that is slightly on the plusher side makes it a decent package. Like most, Hyundai Creta also offers an independent suspension in the front and a non-independent suspension on the rear tyres. You may ask why Kia Seltos is not on the list? Well, In the Seltos the suspension is tweaked for better driving experience and tauter ride quality.
Talking about cars with good suspension for typical Indian roads, no one can forget Mahindra Scorpio. For starters, Scorpio is the only car that is based on a ladder on frame chassis instead of a monocoque. This is one of the prime reasons Scorpio has a really good ride that it can even cross over a footpath (we don’t recommend doing that though!). So, what do the chassis have to do with the suspension? You may ask. In simple terms, the suspension on a ladder on a frame chassis is mounted on the ladder and not on the body. This gives more leverage to adjust the suspension towards the softer side. This opens up more space under the wheel arch. All this combines to make Mahindra Scorpio a bad handler, at high speeds but more than meets the eye when there are no roads. After all, Scorpio is not meant for speeds in the first place. And it gets a multi-link suspension at the rear with McPherson struts in front.
The newest import with plush ride quality is the Volkswagen T-Roc. Before getting started, you might know that T-ROC is the vehicle straight from the European factory. Yes, this is a CBU unit and is more or less similar to the one sold overseas. One can associate the quality of the cars that come with such European tags. Volkswagen T-Roc is no different. This vehicle has a tough chassis and the suspension is also on the stiffer side. But a slightly raised ground clearance makes it possible to run on the Indian roads. This sure unsettles the car on shallow potholes but it is not uncomfortable. They are the high speeds where this SUV shines. For starters, due to the tough chassis, the body roll is well contained. On the contrary, having stiff suspension the body roll is even more controlled.
Jeep Compass surely has a small form factor but taking the design as an advantage, the vehicles pack quite a punch. This can easily smoke a couple of bigger cars or even the ones having similar power specs. But SUVs are not all about power or are they?. Or are the SUVs to just Glide over potholes, crevices on roads and the undulation on the roads? Well, be it anything, this Jeep just rolls over them as if there were a piece of cake. Another party piece with the Jeep Compass is that some variants still come with the 4X4 hardware.
Maruti Suzuki S-Presso
An unusual car with a good suspension setup for its price and structure is the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso. S-Presso though gets a raised stance for driving comfort but this is not the whole story. The trump card with the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso is the suspension as it adds a few off-road capabilities. With that, the amount of space that the car offers is also reasonable. As most of the cars including Creta, this also gets the same suspension setup, McPherson Struts in the front and torsion beam at the rear. This allows the car to have an uncompromised ride quality and also is not heavy on your wallet.
The Indian carmaker Tata is known to have a really positive history of SUVs in the domestic market. Tata Nexon was bound to have a really good suspension setup. With that, talking about hardware, Tata Nexon, like other so-called SUVs, gets an independent suspension in front and the rear is equipped with non-independent suspension. The difference lies in the tuning of these suspension systems. Tata Nexon has both the suspensions set to slightly on the softer side making the ride comfortable on rough roads and when driving on highway it is planted as well.
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Undoubtedly, the Toyota Innova is the king when it comes to riding comfort. This MPV is what set the benchmark in a family car. Talking about the chassis and the equipment, Toyota Innova checks the right boxes and simply glides over poor surfaces. Keeping that aside, Toyota Innova uses the conventional suspension setup but that too has been tweaked to take loads. After all, this is a 7-8 seater that transports the whole family together.
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