How dare you drive that?

Everybody hates sport-utility vehicles except the people who actually drive them. It’s no different in India, where there is now a legal definition of the SUV, the better to tax them with:

The government justified the move saying that SUVs occupy more space on the road, although the truth is that large sedans occupy more space than SUVs. A criteria was set and if a vehicle fits into all three, then it is classified as an SUV. Thus an SUV is a vehicle which is more than 4-metres in length, having an engine larger than 1.5-litres and a ground clearance of more than 170 mm. Indian roads are pathetic and you really need good ground clearance to prevent scraping the underbody on large and unmarked speed-breakers.

My own large sedan, 5 meters long with a 3-liter engine, meets two of the three SUV criteria, and it wouldn’t take much to jack up the suspension to meet the third.

Mahindra’s high-selling XUV5OO was hit with the tax, up to the tune of $550. What did the automaker do?

Mahindra went ahead and added a stone guard which became the lowest point of the vehicle, resulting in a reduced ground clearance of 160 mm (from 200 mm).

Which makes it a bit less roadworthy on pathetic Indian roads, but hey, this is what the government wanted, right?

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