Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder hybrid vs Hyundai Creta diesel vs Volkswagen Taigun GT vs MG ZS EV running costs explained: the choice is yours
Choice is good, right? There may be some debate around this in the larger scheme of things but in the car world, it sure is. Ask any prospective SUV buyer in India currently. Yes, the sub-four-metre segment makes this bodystyle quite accessible but the real core is now the bigger C-segment. The scale has grown quickly but it is the maturity that has come brisker still. Aside from all the features and tech, you can now choose to get yourself a family SUV that is a turbo-petrol, a diesel, a hybrid or an EV, seen here with the Volkswagen Taigun, the Hyundai Creta, the Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder and the MG ZS EV.
Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder hybrid vs Hyundai Creta diesel vs Volkswagen Taigun GT vs MG ZS EV: Styling
If you are breaking from the mould, you might want to show that off a bit. In that sense, the MG ZS EV identifies itself as being an EV easily. The blanked-out fascia is striking with the more conventional fascias of the other SUVs here. The asymmetric charge port adds to this, although it could have been a bit more seamlessly integrated as in the pre-facelift model. You even get some air-channelling inlets in the front, large EV badging and the now EV-staple snazzy aero wheel covers.
The ZS EV and the Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryer are the largest here, the MG a bit more than the Toyota. The Hyryder's face may be more appealing to a larger group of people with the intricate two-part detailing, and it too does well to drive home its green credentials with the hybrid fender and boot lid badges. Although we missed the blue-hued Toyota logo that usually accompanies this in their larger models.
The Hyundai Creta might have been around the longest here, and its divergent styling is still a point of debate, but despite being a touch smaller than the Toyota and MG it holds its own. There's nothing to point out the diesel from the other versions, a common trend now. As for the Volkswagen Taigun, it looks noticeably smaller in size than the other SUVs here, but it must be said that it is the cleanest design with a typically restrained but sophisticated look. The GT badging and blacked-out exterior panels make it look quite racy, as you would want a fast VW to be.
Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder hybrid vs Hyundai Creta diesel vs Volkswagen Taigun GT vs MG ZS EV: Interiors, features, space
The MG ZS EV's larger footprint translates into it having the roomiest cabin. The all-black cabin also feels the best appointed with its soft materials on the dash top and leather upholstery. That said, being based on an ICE-derived architecture, you don't quite get all the space efficiencies of an EV. Practicality is great in general, but you still have a central tunnel and conventional footwells. The rotary-style gear knob and the toggle switches for the regen and modes do their bit to remind you you're driving something different though
So at least from the front seats, the ambience these SUVs create boils down to more conventional metrics. The Volkswagen Taigun GT gives you fewer soft materials but the plastics look and feel of high quality, the Creta doesn't feel quite as solid but the light colour scheme brings about a good sense of space. Convincingly, that indestructible sense that you get from larger Toyotas is replicated in the Hyryder, its complex powertrain only showing through the small drive mode button. But we do wish the Creta had less cramped footwells, the Taigun had wider seats, the ZS EV more comfortable ones and the Hyryder used fewer shared parts from smaller Maruti Suzukis and a more substantial sunroof cover.
All the SUVs here will give you touchscreens sized between 9 to 10.4 inches, with the Hyryder and Creta making up each end. The Hyryder and Taigun have a further edge with their wireless Android Auto/Apple Carplay pairings, You further get 7-inch part-digital instrumentation, and the Taigun's a bit larger at 8 inches. The Hyryder's cluster is the most useful with its clear hybrid graphics, the extensive trip computer and numerous customisation options. The HUD is more than a gimmick, once you get used to it. The ZS EV could have done with a more customisable screen but it gives out clear energy consumption data which is a positive, although the small trip and regen level indicators can be difficult to read.
The Taigun may be the narrowest car here but it'll be most comfortable if you are tall. Its 2,651mm wheelbase is significantly longer than the 2,585mm of the ZS EV, the shortest of the lot here. So while three adults are a tight squeeze in the Volkswagen, you have the best headroom of the lot with the scooped-out roof(there's only a single-pane sunroof) and the most supportive seats here. The Creta comes a close second in terms of these parameters. Like most EVs, the MG could do better under-thigh support with the raised floor eating into the seat. But it is the widest bench here and also trumps the slightly longer Hyryder in leg space. The Toyota's hybrid gubbins have eaten into cabin space which also gives the Creta a slight edge in this parameter. Both these SUVs will also give you a reclining rear bench, a handy addition.
The hybrid battery also compromises the Hyryder's boot space. It's the smallest here at 265 litres and the 60;40 split, available on all the cars here is the most difficult to utilize as a result. The Taigun is also small at 385 litres while the ZS EV and Creta do better at 433 and 448 litres.
Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder hybrid vs Hyundai Creta diesel vs Volkswagen Taigun GT vs MG ZS EV: Driving impressions, performance
No surprise, but it's the Volkswagen Taigun GT and the Hyundai Creta that feel the most familiar to drive. Both, the VW and the Creta here come with 1.5-litre engines. The Tagun is petrol with 150PS and the seven-speed DCT and the Creta is a diesel with 115PS and a six-speed manual, both put out 250 Nm.
Now you might not have the convenience of an automatic with this particular Creta but with a light, progressive clutch and precise shifter, this diesel is about as easy to drive as a manual gets. The torque output may be the same, but its accessed easier than in the Taigun, you don't have to keep shuffling between gears and a spurt of the throttle has you covered in most cases. The Taigun's motor feels like a good modern turbo-petrol, but the DCT just seems to bring the package together on a regular commute. It's usually picked the right gear before you even know it despite being quite efficiency-focused and it never quite lets the engine get too loud. The wider petrol powerband also comes in handy when you need to make faster overtakes
But what if you couldn't be bothered with how your car feels to drive, efficiency your bigger preference? That's where the Hyryder hybrid and the MG ZS EV come in. The Toyota again could have done with more pliancy at low speeds although, with a touch more suppleness, it's not quite as apparent as the Taigun or ZS EV. The steering on the Hyryder is very well balanced. It's got just the right heft and directness at slow speeds which is complemented by a sense of solidity that's got even Taigun covered. The Hyryder feels like it will take some beating which doesn't quite come through with the Creta or the ZS EV. The MG does well as long as the road surface remains smooth, but show it a rough patch and the EV tends to crash and bob over potholes and imperfections. The suspension having to shore up an added 250 to 300 kg over the others here has a part to play in this.
The hybrid system in the Toyota makes 115PS and will offer up a combined 180 Nm in most situations. With an 11.4s 0 to 100 kmph time it's about as quick as the Creta diesel. The Taigun GT is a quick car by any means with its 9.6s run to 100 kmph but it'll never match the ZS EV's instant torque. The electric is by far the fastest here with the 0 to 100 kmph done in 7.5s and with sub 2s rolling acceleration times. This is down to its 176PS and 280 Nm outputs. Consequently, the ZS EV makes overtakes the easiest and acceleration is quite an event. There's no noise or vibrations to bother you or shifts to get in the way. That said, Toyota has got this hybrid tech down pat and it shows in the way the Hyryder manages to translate its fairly complex system into a cohesive driving experience, bridging the gap with its pure EV and ICE rivals.
You start off in pure EV mode more often than not with the Hyryder, although the roughly 0.8 kWh battery quickly needs assistance from the engine. While the 1.5-litre Toyota three-cylinder petrol isn't the most refined, it's loud and clattery whenever it's working, but there aren't too many vibrations filtering into the cabin. In any case, at slow speeds, progress is smooth if not quite with the shove that the other SUVs here provide. The electric motor will also cut in to supplement the combustion engine when you need more power although the entire system isn't quite as reactive or punchy as a pure EV or ICE. It does however smoothen out the hesitation you might otherwise feel with a CVT-equipped car. The MG ZS EV and Toyota Hyryder also do great with visibility. You see the edges of the bonnet clearly, there are large mirrors and grainy but still useful 360-degree cameras. There's a B or braking gearbox mode with the Hyryder that dials up the regen and engine braking, somewhat similar to the most configurable three regen modes in the ZS EV, although none offer true one-pedal driving.
The ICEs claw back on the open road. The Taigun GT fully comes into its own here. Highway cruising is untiring with the motor ticking over just below 2,000 rpm, again quite similar to the Creta. The ride settles further and there's a sense of solidity to proceedings that make intercity trips easy. The Creta doesn't quite feel as solid here given there is a touch more slack in the suspension and steering but again the diesel's easy torque means you sail along quite effortlessly.
On a twisty bit of road though, the Taigun GT shines. Its compact size seems to shrink around you, the S gearbox mode holds revs longer significantly unshackling the engine and the taut suspension means that you feel confident and excited here. With the Creta, body roll is about as well controlled as the Taigun GT but there's not quite that sense of poise and directness that comes across with the VW.
The Hyryder stays fairly competent as far as the open road goes. The ride is far more compliant and the well-grounded chassis makes it feel stable. It's not quite as calm as the ICEs, with the engine working away quite hard and electrical assistance reduced. However, the Hyryder's soft suspension tune makes for quite a bit of rolling and diving, even though it's not any heavier than the pure ICEs here. It can also feel a touch skittish as a result of this around corners and with the powertrain not quite in its element, a steady hand serves the Hyryder best.
The ZS EV is still quick in these situations but as with most EVs, high-speed acceleration isn't quite as brisk. Its demeanour remains much the same as in the city, feeling fairly poised as long as the road stays smooth. The MG's suspension also fares similarly to the Hyryder but without the plushness or directness coming from the steering, somewhat negating an EV's advantage of having most of its weight placed lower in the bodywork. This could also be down to the high 40 PSI tyre pressures, there to reduce rolling resistance and scrape out range.
With their spurts of instant electric torque, the Toyota and MG can also suffer from wheelspin and torque steer if you get too excited with the accelerator around corners. Both, the ZS EV and Hyryder get drive modes which alter the pedal response and steering feel with the Hyryder also tweaking its gearbox's reactions.
Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder hybrid vs Hyundai Creta diesel vs Volkswagen Taigun GT vs MG ZS EV: Running costs, real-world mileage
The one you decide to bring home will probably rest on what makes the most economic sense for you. So with our real-world fuel efficiency figures, we've tried to narrow this down to a per km running cost metric. The mileage, and in the case of the ZS EV the range figure, takes into account a 75 per cent city and 25 per cent highway cycle. The fuel and electricity costs are from Mumbai as of February 21, 2023, as are the on-road prices. We've decided to not include maintenance costs for the sake of consistency as they might differ with your usage cycle.
The Hyundai Creta with its 15.86 kmpl mileage isn't the most efficient, the Toyota Hyryder's impressive EV intervention in the city that nets it a nearly 25 kmpl city number pushes it to a 23.83 kmpl overall number. But the Creta is priced attractively at Rs 21.04 lakh, over a lakh less than the DCT-equipped Taigun GT and nearly Rs 2 lakh less than the Hyryder hybrid. This and the closing but still notable gap in diesel prices mean that the other cars are playing catch up.
The Taigun GT's sophisticated drivetrain means that it's quite pricey. And while in isolation, the cylinder deactivation tech does work and you can see efficiency rise on the highway without interrupting your driving style, its low 12.57kmpl mileage and high cost mean that you won't be making savings over the Creta diesel. A caveat here is that the diesel automatic Creta not accounted for here is Rs 65,000 more than the Taigun GT, in which case the toss-up between the two is neglible over an ownership period.
It's also clear that while hybrids do make a strong case for themselves, there's still some time before they reach parity with petrol or diesels. The Hyryder will save you about Rs 1.48 per km over the diesel Creta, so your looking at a Rs 29,600 saving over 20,000 km. So while hybrids have a significant efficiency edge, the cost of the tech needs to drop a touch more still to negate the higher petrol price.
As for EVs, it's clear that there is still a ways to go before they can be seen as a straightforward alternative to ICE rivals. The MG ZS EV may match the others here in size and equipment but is vastly more expensive with its Rs 28.34 lakh price. If you can stomach that, there's the tempting Rs 1.35 per km running cost. You save a significant Rs 4.59 km over the Creta and nearly Rs 92,000 over 20,000 km. This will eventually help you recover the high intial price of the MG if you drive it long enough. The factors behind this high price are of course the sheer cost of the battery cells which boils down to their expensive manufacturing and raw materials. But this tech is still nascent and advancements to reduce costs through scale or breakthroughs are only a matter of time.
Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder hybrid vs Hyundai Creta diesel vs Volkswagen Taigun GT vs MG ZS EV: Your choice
So what should you pick? At this stage, and in this C-SUV segment, the toss-up still seems to be between petrol and diesel. While in this test, the manual Creta diesel is the most financially reasonable choice, the long-standing tip that you pick a diesel if you drive more remains when seen against two exact equivalents.
Hybrids do seem like the logical third option. You aren't making any significant trade-off as you will need to make an EV work for you, but if you spend a lot of time in urban conditions or rack up miles quickly this powertrain will be the most logical one. But with the BS6 Phase 2 norms around the corner, hybrids may just get the look in they need. You can choose an EV for much the same reasons, but you must be commited to the cause as an early adopter or be enamoured by the distinctive driving experience to pay significnatly more up front.
But then, for many of you reading this, what fun is picking a car that tugs at your head and not your heart?
Text: Tuhin Guha
Images: Sumit Gaikwad
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