Not long ago, the word SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) used to be associated with highly rugged purpose-built off-roaders like the Mitsubishi Pajero SFX. Now, the term SUV is regularly used for many car models that neither have an AWD/4WD system nor have a ladder-frame construction, which are the two pre-requisites for any utility vehicle that can easily venture off the road. The only traits working in favour of these vehicles include a high ground clearance and a bold exterior design. While the use case for such cars doesn't warrant the off-road hardware, it's interesting to see what the off-road-spec versions of such 'modern' SUVs could look like.
One of the highlights of the Tata Nexon is its unconventional design, which helps it easily grab eyeballs of other road users. That said, the Nexon doesn't look like a vehicle that can survive the harsh terrain, and we could hardly ever imagine an off-road-ready version until we laid our eyes on the above illustration.
The off-road version of the Nexon seen here has a custom bumper that holds a large scuff plate, winch and auxiliary lamps. Other highlights of the more rugged version of the Nexon include a snorkel, roof mounted fog lamps, custom rims shod with large all-terrain tyres and spare wheels and increased ride height.
Another sub-4-metre offering that is as popular as the Tata Nexon (avg. monthly sales volume of 4,234 units) is the Ford EcoSport. The EcoSport created the modern sub-4-metre SUV segment, and its powerful engines, feature-laden cabin, bold design and well-sorted dynamics have helped it win many hearts. While the standard variant is hardly any good off the road, the above rendering visualises a full-blown off-road-oriented variant.
As imagined by the artist, the off-road-ready Ford EcoSport features a metal front bumper that holds an integrated bull bar. The new setup should help the SUV withstand small impacts with ease. The metal unit features two tow hooks, a metal bash plate and aux lamps. The fenders have been redesigned to accommodate the larger wheels and tyres. The sub-compact SUV even benefits from a snorkel, a roof-mounted LED light bar and a roof-mounted luggage carrier. Other highlights include a yellow tint for the headlamps and matte black paint for the exterior.
Maruti Vitara Brezza
The Maruti Vitara Brezza has been the undisputed leader of the sub-4-metre SUV segment (avg. monthly sales volume between April - September 2018 - 13,173 units). That said, much like the Ford EcoSport and the Tata Nexon, it's not much capable off the road.
Here is a rendering of the off-road-ready Maruti Vitara Brezza by IAB’s automotive illustrator Shoeb Kalania. The rendered off-road ready variant has an increased ride height and new wheels shod with all-terrain tyres. The front-end is characterised by a giant bull bar that offers protection to the bumper and the headlamps. Other highlights include a set of auxiliary lamps, new fog lamps, a tow hook and a large bash plate. The rendering shows the Brezza with a roof-mounted luggage box and a dual-tone paint scheme.
The Mahindra TUV300 uses a body-on-frame construction and is the toughest looking sub-4-metre SUV, but it's not exactly meant to be taken off the beaten tarmac.
The rendering above shows a modified TUV300 that is capable even on the snow! Dubbed the 'Snow Warrior', this TUV300 seems to have looked at the battle tanks for inspiration. Its tank tracks help it gain traction on the highly slippery surface, while the diamond steel plats on the lower part of the doors protect it from the rough surroundings. The original grille has been replaced with a matte black grille with horizontal slats, and the stock bumper features two tow hooks. The wheel arches get a black plastic cladding. Another highlight of the exterior is the Zebra-inspired graphics.
With an average monthly sales volume of 10,554 units (between April 2018 and September 2018), the popularity of the Hyundai Creta is second only to the Maruti Vitara Brezza among B-SUVs. It offers bold looks, a comfortable and a feature-laden cabin, the segment's most powerful engines and an excellent ride quality. Unfortunately, isn't good off the road either.
Here is a rendering of an off-road-oriented Hyundai Creta by IAB’s automotive illustrator Shoeb Kalania. Dubbed Creta X, it features a two-tone exterior paint scheme in metallic light blue and metallic black shades. The rear doors sport rally car-inspired graphics with large 'X' logos. The front bumper, grille and ORVMs have a gloss black treatment that complements the overall two-tone theme. The 17-inch machined alloy wheels have been replaced with smaller wheels that are shod with meaty rubber. Another highlight of the Hyundai Creta X is the luggage box that is mounted on the cross-bars for the roof.
While none of the above SUVs would ever receive off-road-ready versions, it's interesting to see how modifications can transform these tarmac-only models to thoroughbred off-road vehicles.