Ignis Vs KUV 100 NXT: Mahindra’s is a practical car, but not as desirable as Maruti
Mahindra has brought out a facelift for its KUV100 cross-hatch and has added an NXT badge. The refresh includes a number of cosmetic changes on the outside and inside, and some new kit in the form of a new touchscreen infotainment system and more. We have pitted the diesel KUV100 NXT K8 (₹7.42 lakh) against its natural competition, Maruti's Ignis 1.3D Alpha (₹7.54 lakh), to find out if the facelift is enough for the Mahindra to outdo its rival (prices, ex-showroom, Delhi).
The Maruti's design is unconventional and there are some bits that feel very premium, like the body-coloured door handles, climate control unit, steering wheel switches. Build quality, however, could have been better and many bits feel flimsy too. The light colour on the bottom-half of the cabin makes the cabin feel brighter though. The seat cushioning is a bit soft and should have been firmer. On the NXT, an all-black theme replaces the grey interior and it's much nicer now. The design of the dashboard is unconventional but appealing, and small changes like the touchscreen, air con controls and silver trim give it a lift. The plastics are hard but feel robust and built to last. It remains the only car of its kind to be available with a six-seating option.
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Despite being half a size smaller than the KUV, the Ignis is cleverly packed and spacious. The front seats are contoured well and are supportive but compared to the KUV, these are low-set, which means you don't enjoy the KUV-like raised driving position. Space at the rear is good, with ample head and knee room. There are many small well-designed storage areas across the cabin and it also gets a larger 260-litre boot.
Interiors on the Mahindra are more spacious in comparison to the Ignis and the seats feel a bit more supportive. In the absence of a third front passenger, the backrest doubles as a comfy armrest. The space at the rear is more than the Ignis', and there's also an armrest at the back. It gets a few covered storage areas, like the one under the floor. The boot, however, is smaller than the Ignis and the opening is narrower too.
The Ignis may cost ₹12,000 more than the KUV but it does have a lot more. It gets LED headlamps, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, automatic climate control, keyless entry, an engine start-stop button, reversing camera, 60:40 split rear seats; all of which the KUV misses out on. It also gets ABS, EBD, dual airbags and Isofix child-seat mounts, which are present on the rear seat.
With this update, the KUV100 is better equipped than before. It gets features like a touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, reversing sensors, electric folding mirrors and 15-inch wheels, all of which the Ignis is equipped with. In addition, unique to this car are Eco and Power driving modes and an engine start-stop system. It also gets ABS, EBD, dual airbags and an Isofix child-seat mount.
The Ignis is powered by the familiar Fiat-sourced 75hp 1.3-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. Performance is punchy and the car feels much faster than the KUV because of its lightweight construction. There's a bit of lag off boost, but then power comes in strong once the motor spins. It is much louder than the KUV's at idle and makes quite a din when you rev it. The five-speed manual is smooth and clutch is light to use. Though the Ignis has a firmer suspension than the KUV, it's still quite comfy in the city and smoothens bad sections well. But where it really shines is on the highway; it stays flat and more composed over bumps. The steering, however, is very vague and feels disconnected from the front wheels. It doesn't return well to the centre either, and that spoils what otherwise is quite a sorted car to drive.
The 78hp, 1.2-litre three-cylinder diesel on the KUV100 is very refined. Power delivery is smooth and boost comes in early, so driving around town is a breeze. There's adequate pep at city speeds, but it isn't very punchy or free-revving, and the band of power is limited, even in Power mode, so it won't please those who enjoy driving fast. The five-speed manual gearbox, however, is superb, smooth and light to use. The NXT is tuned to be soft and comfortable for driving in the city, so potholes and bad roads are rounded off very nicely. But a trade off is that the rear tends to bounce at high speeds, especially over wavy surfaces. There is body roll as well, and that doesn't inspire much confidence. Also, the steering is a bit heavy, and it's vague and inconsistent.
While the KUV100 NXT's option of a six-seater configuration (it also comes as a five-seater), its spacious cabin and comfortable ride are some of the model's key positives, it is let down by the fact that its handling is rather soggy and that the hatchback is a bit rough around the edges. The KUV100 NXT offers more practicality than the Ignis but it is not as desirable and nice to drive as the more mainstream Maruti.
Maruti's Ignis scores high in terms of equipment levels and its strong, Fiat-sourced diesel engine is another highlight, especially when coupled with the its light-weight body. However, its interior build quality is lacking for a car at this price point and the refinement levels could be better - the engine's diesel clatter filters through even at idle. The highlight of the Ignis, and the main reasons to buy one, include a unique, funky-looking design, premium features and kit, and the fact that it is both, easy- and fun-to-drive.