Mahindra and Mahindra, the utility vehicle specialist, is betting big on its all new compact sports utility vehicle called Mahindra XUV300 to be a volume grosser in the growing SUV market in the country.
It is a new vehicle jointly developed by Mahindra and Korean brand SsangYong which it bought nearly a decade back. The company had introduced the SsangYong Rexton SUV in the fiercely competitive Indian market where it did not make any dent.
But late last year it rebadged the new-generation Rexton as the Mahindra Alturas G4. One of the changes was the grille to carry the Mahindra vertical slotted design and most of the car was all SsangYong.
However, the company’s approach to the XUV300 is quite different. While retaining the hard points of the popular Tivoli’s X100 platform, Mahindra has re-skinned the car entirely. Thus, to be sure the grille, bumpers, bonnet, fenders, doors, hatch and the roof are all different from the SsangYong. Mahindra has also used its own diesel and petrol engines.
Undoubtedly, the Mumbai-based auto maker has extensively re-engineered on the vehicle to crack the growing sub-four-metre SUV segment in India. Although the TUV300 and NuvoSport are technically both sub-four-metre vehicles, but they did not make a dent in this segment in the country.
I drove the monocoque-based Mahindra XUV300 extensively in picturesque south Goa to find out if buyers would make a beeline for this new SUV.
On the outside, XUV 300 is large and wide even though it is under four metres in length which is accentuated by the narrow grille and headlights. The headlight-fog lamp cluster is where Mahindra has linked the XUV300 to its elder sibling the XUV500. The bumper's lower intake is pretty large and it gives the car the SUV look. Overall, the front is well done and attractive to catch attention.
The wheel arches look quite flared with the rear ones being done more prominently to resemble a cheetah's haunches. The 17-inch alloys are smartly done and look quite aggressive with their sharp cuts and chrome and black finish. The sun roof given to this car looks great. The rear of the car is also done stylishly with the tail-lights carrying a neat oval signature line. The windscreen is topped by a spoiler and the bumper features a rather large, stylistic skid plate.
Inside, the XUV300 looks like Tivoli. The dashboard, steering and switchgear look neat and the quality is also very good. There is plenty of storage in the car like the door pockets are large enough and there are a few cubbyholes, a centre console box, and a glovebox with a wide storage shelf above it. You also get seatback pockets that are actually elastic bands and though they look unique but are not really practical. As far as the boot is concerned, for this size of the car, it is cool.
This SUV stands out when featuring its dual-zone climate control, a tyre pressure monitoring system, front parking sensors, rear camera with dynamic parking line assistance, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto lamps and wipers, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, cruise control, heated outside mirrors, a sunroof and a twin-pod instrument cluster with a 3.5-inch screen that displays info from the trip computer, and also a tyre direction indicator that tells you which side your tyres are pointed at before you drive off.
The vehicle’s safety equipment includes the seven airbags (front, side, curtain and knee), three-point seatbelts and height-adjustable head restraints for all five passengers, Isofix mounts, and ABS, ESP and hill-start assist.
The XUV300 will be sold with the option of a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel engine, both mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. The petrol is a turbocharged version of the 1.2 unit from the KUV, while the 1.5 is from the Marazzo MPV.
I drove the diesel Mahindra XUV300 and like in the Marazzo MPV, the performance of the engine was rather refined. There are no vibrations and the sound levels are fine. The car feels very energetic, and turbo lag is well-managed thanks to the electrically controlled variable geometry turbocharger, with performance being available from very low down in the rev range. The ride quality is smooth and the long drive just soaks up bumps and irregularities on the highway without any hitch up. The tyre grip is great and the suspension good. It is very drivable vehicle for short or long distance and for daily or weekend use.
Should I buy one?
Overall, Mahindra has done really well to engineer an attractive car from outside and inside with a good and responsive engine. The car is dynamic, spacious and loaded with features with quite a few of them are first in the segment in the country. On the whole, the XUV300 is a driver’s delight as it is light and easy to drive. In fact, it competes well against the Maruti Vitara Brezza and Ford EcoSport, and, in a few areas, the Hyundai Creta.
With an aggressive price tag of Rs 7.90 lakh for the base W4 petrol variant and Rs 8.49 lakh for the base W4 diesel variant it is likely to be a winner and bring volumes for Mahindra.