If you are looking for a compact SUV that’s practical, efficient and good to look at, chances are you are on the same page as your next-door neighbour, your relative or your best friend. That’s precisely how well the supremacy of crossovers has exploded in recent times. So what do you buy? Well here we have Hyundai’s feature-rich Venue, Tata’s evergreen Nexon and the Ford Ecosport, the car that kick started the compact SUV segment back in 2013.
Starting with performance, all three cars come with a choice of petrol and diesel engines with manual and automatic gearbox options. Tata though has set a new benchmark by offering the Nexon as an electric vehicle also. For this comparison, we have included diesel manual versions of the Nexon, the Venue and the EcoSport since they are the biggest sellers in their respective range.
All three crossovers here are powered by three different 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel engines and in terms of output, the EcoSport makes 99bhp of power and 215Nm of torque whereas the Venue and the Nexon and slightly more powerful. The Nexon makes 108bhp and 260Nm of torque whereas the Venue gives you 99bhp and 240Nm of torque. The EcoSport is also down on the number of gears with its 5-speed gearbox. You get a 6-speed gearbox in both Nexon and Venue.
These outputs reflect on the on-road performance of these cars. The Nexon is the most powerful car of the three and as you would expect, it was also the quickest in our performance tests although by a tiny margin. It’s during roll-on acceleration where you will see a bigger difference in how these cars respond to throttle inputs. The EcoSport suffers from turbo lag more than the other two as it takes a good couple of seconds to accelerate from 20-80kmph in third gear. And the difference is even bigger in the 40-100kmph run in fourth.
|Performance||Tata Nexon||Hyundai Venue||Ford EcoSport|
|20-80kmph in 3rd gear||9.89||10.29||12.70|
|40-100kmph in 4th gear||13.92||14.05||16.20|
When it comes to fuel efficiency, it’s the Hyundai Venue that comes across as the most fuel efficient diesel manual crossover here. And when you look at our tested weight figures it’s not difficult to believe its lead over the Nexon and the EcoSport. In fact, it’s 50 kilos lighter than the Tata and the Ford and as a result, it’s fuel efficiency of 14.2kmpl in the city and 19.4kmpl on the highway is slightly more than the Nexon which will give you almost 14kmpl in the city and 18.7kmpl on the highway. The EcoSport is just as efficient in the city and despite lacking a sixth gear it does slightly better on the highway with a fuel efficiency figure of 18.8kmpl and that’s not bad at all.
|Fuel economy||Tata Nexon||Hyundai Venue||Ford EcoSport|
Buyers in this segment expect a lot more space and comfort than any traditional hatchback so it’s crucial that these crossovers deliver on interior space and comfort. If we look at our tested measurements, the EcoSport appears to be a clear winner at the front. It’s got a lot more shoulder room than the other two and the headroom is on par with the Nexon as well. The all-important legroom is also slightly more in the Ford and that’s something a lot of buyers will appreciate. But what’s surprising is that the front seats on the Venue are marginally bigger than the other two and that will come in handy for longer journeys.
|Interior measurements||Tata Nexon||Hyundai Venue||Ford EcoSport|
Things are a little different when you move to the second row. It’s a close battle between the Nexon and the EcoSport when it comes to headroom and legroom. While it’s the EcoSport that has the most amount of headroom but the Nexon clearly has more kneeroom and space to move around. It might not have the most accommodating rear bench but it’s quite supportive and overall rear comfort levels on the Nexon are among the best in this segment. The Venue, on the other hand, feels cramped in this comparison and its cabin is nowhere as spacious as the Nexon’s.
|Seat base length||490mm||510mm||490mm|
The Venue might not be the most spacious small crossover but it certainly has the biggest boot from the bunch. It has the most amount of usable cargo space compared to the other two which suffer from intrusive wheel arches. Unfortunately, the door-type opening for the EcoSport’s boot is not only unconventional but also impractical when you need to access the boot in tight spaces.
|Loading lip height||680mm||810mm||660mm|
Since their last updates, the EcoSport and the Nexon’s cabin have been refreshed to bring them in line with 2021 standards. The floating touchscreen on the EcoSport is still one of the best in business when it comes to user interface but we found the one in the Venue as the new segment benchmark. Where the EcoSport has an old-school instrument cluster with simple dials, the Venue’s detailed driver’s display has a lot of information available on the go. The digital display on the Nexon is also highly detailed but it looks gimmicky and it isn’t as well sorted as the one in the Hyundai.
Ergonomics-wise, these crossovers have got it spot-on and are also high on the build quality front. There are differences in the level of equipment though. Common features here include climate control, steering mounted controls, automatic headlamps, sunroof, infotainment systems with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, electrically fold-able mirrors and some more. And in terms of differentiating features, the Nexon gets a fully digital instrument cluster and connected car tech with voice commands in Hindi. The EcoSport, on the other hand, gets foot-well ambient lighting and six airbags on the top-end variant.
Now there was a time when the Venue had a big lead over its rivals when it comes to features but the updated Nexon has closed that gap by a fair amount. Still, the Hyundai is highly specced for the price and you do get some features like wireless charging and an air purifier that aren’t available on the Nexon or the EcoSport.
|Ex-showroom price in lakh||Tata Nexon||Hyundai Venue||Ford EcoSport|
|Diesel MT||Rs 8.50 to Rs 12.36||Rs 8.38 to Rs 11.71||Rs 8.89 to Rs 11.70|
|Diesel AT/AMT||Rs 10.09 to Rs 12.96||Not available||Not available|
When you compare the ex-showroom prices of these crossovers you will note that the Nexon diesel range is slightly more expensive than the Venue and the EcoSport. Now some may find that surprising for a Tata product but the fact remains that the Nexon scores higher on several important parameters. It’s the most powerful and the quickest of this lot and you cannot really fault its back seat experience. The Nexon is also the only diesel budget crossover that can be had with an automatic gearbox even if it’s basic AMT technology. However, if you are a keen driver and you like to row through the gears yourself then you are better off with the EcoSport and its solid ride and handling package.
Now if we are to consider real-world feel and impressions besides pure tested data then it’s the Hyundai Venue that makes for a better buy than the other two. For the same price it offers a far more upmarket cabin, better quality and a slightly longer list of features. The Venue is also the most refined of the three and refinement is something that many crossover buyers are going after when you consider the fact that they are generally upgrading from a hatchback.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi