Shootout: Hyundai i20 Active vs Fiat Avventura vs Toyota Etios Cross
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 7.11 – 9.39 lakhs (Toyota Etios Cross), Rs. 7.67 – 10.34 lakhs (Fiat Avventura), Rs. 7.58 – 10.71 lakhs (Hyundai i20 Active)
These might be pseudo crossovers but they all possess completely different qualities
We have said this numerous times that Indians love SUVs and anything that looks like an SUV. So while full-sized SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner are selling in huge numbers, the market also has smaller SUVs like the Ford EcoSport and Renault Duster for those who can’t afford the giant ones. But what happens when one wants an SUV for the price of a premium hatchback or a compact sedan? Bang! The new pseudo crossover segment takes birth. Fiat ventured in to this segment more than a decade back with the Palio Adventure which although a fantastic looking car (even today) remained a sales dud. Then, Ford launched the EcoSport (more true to the crossover concept) while Toyota introduced the Etios Cross. Not wanting to stay behind, Volkswagen launched the Cross Polo while Fiat launched the Avventura and Hyundai brought out the i20 Active in this segment.
Motor Quest: The crossover segment was kicked off in India more than a decade back with the Fiat Palio Adventure. The vehicle found hardly any takers at that time but now automakers are again investing in this segment and coming up with new offerings. The i20 Active sells in good numbers while the Etios Cross too gets a good amount of enquiries at showrooms. The Cross Polo and the Avventura are the ones that are almost non-existent on our roads.
Styling – All the three vehicles here have one thing in common, that they are very similar to their hatchback counterparts and come with a lot of cosmetic additions to make their styling look more rugged. The Avventura is a great attempt by Fiat and it looks so darn good. The vehicle is also not too common on our roads and hence it always attracts lot of glances from on-lookers, many of them who mistake the car to be a modified Punto Evo. The i20 Active on the other hand looks very mature and sporty and this is the one that also sells the most in this segment. Hyundai has designed the vehicle nicely and the styling isn’t very loud either.
The Etios Cross seems like a half-hearted attempt by Toyota since the external body-cladding is the only noticeable change over the regular Etios Liva. Still, the Etios Cross does look like the best styled car from the Etios family. The i20 Active is the only one out here that comes with projector lights and all three of these crossovers come with only one reverse light. We rate the Avventura as the best looker here (with that spare wheel mounted externally giving it lots of presence) while the i20 Active follows closely behind. The Etios Cross doesn’t really appeal as much as the other two but compared to the Etios Liva, it certainly has better styling.
Interiors – The i20 Active comes with similar interiors as the Elite i20. The dashboard trims get two colour options – Light Blue and Orange. We prefer the orange shade since it looks much more subtle. All controls fall within easy reach of the hand and the instrument cluster is also easy to read and displays a lot of info. The Fiat Avventura has nicely built interiors and it feels solid too but fit and finish is far from satisfactory. There were a lot of uneven panel gaps in our test car. The ergonomics are also messed up. The interiors of the Etios Cross are a big letdown. Cost-cutting is evident everywhere and the materials of the centre console look like they will come off anytime. The quirky design of the dash and the centre-mounted instrument cluster isn’t really fancied by many people and we are among them.
The i20 comes loaded with keyless go, push button start, rear AC vents, 1 GB storage for the audio system, tilt and telescopic steering, reverse camera, aluminium finish pedals, daytime running lights, projector headlights, cornering lights on the top variants. The Avventura gets features like audio system with Blue&Me (no audio streaming!), steering-mounted audio controls and the likes. The dashboard gets a different colour scheme than the Punto Evo and the centre console also gets three new gauges which display compass, forward-backward incline and left-right incline. Toyota’s equipment list isn’t generous and the Etios Cross misses out on a climate control system that is present on the other two cars here. The i20 Active (285-litres) also has the biggest boot here while the Avventura (280-litres) is marginally behind (the boot takes effort to open) and the Etios Cross (251-litres) has the smallest trunk here.
The i20 Active has good seats which are well contoured and offer decent support. The seats on the Avventura, however, are very comfortable but Fiat could have done with slightly softer cushioning. The seats in the Etios Cross are big and offer good comfort but there could have been more support to the sides. Space is also very good and the cabin has a nice airy feeling. The Etios, however, has the best AC out of all these crossovers and it was a boon in Mumbai’s heat. But among these three cars, it’s the Hyundai i20 Active which has the highest equipment and also the best looking interior with the best quality. The Etios does have the most space while the Avventura has the best build quality.
Performance – All these crossovers are offered with both petrol and diesel engine options. The i20 Active gets a 1.2-litre petrol engine while the Avventura gets a 1.4-litre mill. The Etios Cross is the only one out here that comes with two petrol engines – 1.2-litre and 1.5-litre. The i20 gives out 83 PS of power and 115 Nm of torque and the Avventura produces marginally more power at 90 PS while torque remains the same. The Etios Cross with the 1.2-litre engine (80 PS and 104 Nm) has enough pep for city use while the 1.5-litre engine with 90 PS of power and 132 Nm of torque is just way more fun to drive. The i20 Active also drives well and power delivery is very linear. The engine isn’t suited for performance at the top of the rev-range but the car does respond with urgency when you give it the beans. The Avventura misses out on some low-end torque but has good performance in the mid-range. The lack of low-end torque can be felt while taking inclines and the motor really has to be revved hard. ARAI-claimed fuel efficiency figures for the petrol i20 Active, Avventura and Etios Cross 1.2 and 1.5 are 17.19 km/l, 14.4 km/l, 17.71 km/l and 16.78 km/l respectively.
The Fiat motor has the best mid-range, amplified by the low-end turbo lag
The i20 Active and Etios Cross come with 1.4-litre diesel engines while the Avventura comes with the famed 1.3-litre Multijet oil-burner. The Etios produces the least power and torque (68 PS and 170 Nm) but it drives very well and power is always available on tap with turbo lag being quite non-existent. The i20 Active diesel that churns out 90 PS of power and 220 Nm of torque offers good drivability with the power surging in at 2000 RPM, going all the way to a hint more than 4000 RPM. The Avventura with 93 PS of power and 209 Nm of torque gives out an addictive rush when the turbo kicks in but there is too much lag which robs away city performance. ARAI-tested fuel efficiency figures for the diesel i20 Active, Avventura and Etios Cross are 21.19 km/l, 20.59 km/l and 23.59 km/l respectively. The Hyundai is the quickest to 100 km/hr from standstill at 11.94 seconds while the Avventura and Etios Cross have very close figures at 14.64 seconds and 14.04 seconds respectively.
All the cars here are mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, except the i20 Active diesel which comes with a 6-speed manual ‘box. The Etios Cross has the best gearbox having very short and slick throws while the i20 Active closely follows the Cross. The Avventura has a notchy feeling to its gear shifts. An automatic tranny is sorely missed in this segment. The clutch on the i20 is the lightest along with having a fairly short travel while the clutch on the Etios Cross also has a short travel but it is heavy and hence it feels a bit tedious in heavy traffic. The clutch on the Avventura is also light but has a very long range which makes it not so impressive when driving in the city.
Driving Dynamics – The i20 Active is slightly higher than the Elite i20 but Hyundai has stiffened up the suspension of the former, meaning that the Active offers great ride quality over various types of road surfaces. At low to moderate speeds, it just glides over potholes without losing a breathe and it remains fairly composed even at high speeds. The Avventura has even more amazing ride quality and it easily remains the best here. The vehicle is planted at all speeds and this is where Fiat really trumps over its competition. The Etios Cross also boasts of very good ride quality and tackles potholes with ease. Ground clearance is more than enough on all three vehicles.
Talking about handling, the i20 Active doesn’t feel as involving to drive as the Avventura. Its steering is very light and doesn’t weigh up much at high speeds. Its handling is also pretty much neutral and regular buyer won’t have any complaints. The Avventura on the other hand offers sharp handling and the hydraulic steering offers immense feedback too. It feels composed while taking corners at high speeds. The Etios Cross is a decent handler (better than the i20) but its steering lacks feel and is lifeless at certain speeds, which doesn’t really appeal to the enthusiast. Braking performance is very good on all these cars here but the Avventura feels the most sure-footed when braking very hard. Fiat is a clear winner when it comes to dynamics.
Safety and After Sales Service – The i20 Active comes with ABS and dual front airbags as standard only on the top variant while the mid S variant gets a driver side airbag and ABS. The Avventura gets ABS as standard on all diesel variants while dual airbags are standard only on the Emotion variant that comes with a diesel engine only. The petrol Avventura misses out on both airbags and ABS. The Etios Cross gets dual airbags on the top V variants while the base G variant misses out on these but Toyota does plan to make ABS and airbags standard on all trims. Moving to after-sales, Toyota and Hyundai both excel here and it is a close tie between them. Fiat although the oldest car maker of the three in India, simply lags behind both of these but is trying to catch up.
Verdict – It is very difficult to choose a winner out of these three. The Toyota Etios Cross is not a bad car at all, but then there is nothing spectacular about it either. The Fiat Avventura on the other hand offers excellent highway performance and handling along with amazing ride quality but it lags when it comes to city drivability, ergonomics and sales/service. The Hyundai i20 Active isn’t involving to drive but it offers a complete package of features, comfort and service. Hence, even though it is the most expensive vehicle here, the i20 Active is our pick in the pseudo crossover segment. The Avventura closely tails the i20 and it would have been our winner if Fiat would have sorted the ergonomic niggles and city performance on their vehicle. The Etios Cross comes in at third position in this comparo.
Hyundai has truly loaded the i20 Active with lots of equipment and hence it is the perfect recipe to be a winner. The Etios Cross’ only USP is the cost factor while the Avventura is largely preferred by Fiat fans and enthusiasts. The Italian offering is by far the most fun to drive.
Pictures: Hari Kurup – ST[YOU]DIO
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