Motoring

Ready to drive Mahindra's XUV300? Here are a few things you should know!

The XUV300 is the first vehicle developed by Mahindra and SsangYong’s joint-venture. Sure, we have the Alturas G4, but the SUV only gets Mahindra’s grille, with everything else being all SsangYong. The XUV300, on the other hand, isn’t just a minor cosmetic rework of the Tivoli. What Mahindra has done is retained the hard points of the Tivoli’s X100 platform but re-skinned the car entirely.

So the grille, bumpers, bonnet, fenders, doors, hatch and the roof are all different from the SsangYong. That is not all; to ensure it looks every bit an SUV, Mahindra has raised the ground clearance, and to put it below the all-important 4m mark, the car-maker has cut down the front and rear ends as well. The wheelbase, however, has been left untouched. For the powerplants, Mahindra has ditched the Korean units and used its own diesel and petrol engines.

Its SUV look

The first thing you notice is that the XUV300 is large. It may be under 4m in length, but it is wide, something that is further accentuated by the narrow grille and headlights. The headlight-fog lamp cluster is where Mahindra has linked it to the XUV500. The outer edges of the headlights flow down into the fog lights; a design inspired by the tear lines on a cheetah’s face. The bumper’s lower intake is pretty large and it gives the car the SUV look.

From the side, the wheel arches look quite flared, with the rear ones being done more prominently; meant to resemble a cheetah’s haunches. The 17-inch alloys are smart and look quite aggressive with sharp cuts and chrome-and-black finish. The contrast-finished roof also looks great. It’s also from the side that you can see that the rear looks quite sharply cut off due to the length restrictions.

It’s inside that the XUV300 is more Tivoli. Mahindra has carried over a lot of bits like the dashboard, steering and switchgear. This is a plus point because the quality of parts is good, with the switches all having a quality feel to their operation. Although the slim, red HVAC buttons on the centre console are too narrow to operate comfortably.

At 1,820mm, the XUV300 is significantly wide — wider than the Brezza, EcoSport, Nexon and Creta too; and while the rear seat is set inwards, there’s still enough shoulder room inside, and seating three isn’t an unwelcome affair. Rear legroom is also decent, but the rear seats aren’t very comfy, and the lumbar support feels excessive.

Generous with equipment

Mahindra has been quite generous with equipment. The XUV300 features dual-zone climate control, a tyre pressure monitoring system, front parking sensors, rear camera with dynamic parking line assistance, auto headlamps and wipers, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, cruise control, heated outside mirrors, a sunroof and a twin-pod instrument cluster with a 3.5-inch screen that not only displays trip computer information but also which side your tyres are pointed at before you set off.

As for safety features, the XUV comes with seven airbags (front, side, curtain and knee), three-point seatbelts and height-adjustable head restraints for all five passengers, ISOFIX mounts, ABS, ESP and hill-start assist.

The XUV300 will get the option of choosing between a 1.2-litre petrol engine and a 1.5-litre diesel motor, mated to a six-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. We drove the diesel XUV300 and, like in the Marazzo, the engine impressed us with its refined performance.

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. Post 2,000rpm, there’s a further step up, and that stays until about 3,500rpm, after which power simply drops. This strong mid-range means in-gear overtaking performance is really good.

The engine doesn’t have adjustable drive modes. However, a small party trick is the adjustable steering mode that can weigh up the steering, though it doesn’t offer any real feedback in any mode. Ride quality is very good.

While it may use the same platform and a number of parts on the inside, the XUV300 is certainly not a rebadged Tivoli, as Mahindra has put a lot of effort into re-engineering it. The car isn’t perfect — the steering feel, or rather the lack of it, is a fly in the ointment in what is otherwise a brilliant drive experience; the boot is small, and the dashboard buttons are a pain to use; but in every other respect, Mahindra has really done an excellent job.

Promises potential

The styling is dynamic and exciting. The insides are spacious and loaded with features; quite a few of them are segment unique too. The engine is refined, very driveable and has a terrific mid-range, the steering effort is low, the clutch is light and gearshifts are smooth and easy.

It certainly delivers against the standards of the urban yardstick; it is far better than the TUV and well stacked up against the Brezza and EcoSport. What remains now is for Mahindra to price it well, and if priced closer to the EcoSport, its breadth of talents should make it a winner for Mahindra. In fact, given the segment size, the XUV300 has the potential to be Mahindra’s biggest seller to date.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 3:45:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/motoring/for-the-wide-ride/article26248584.ece

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