Today most of the automakers are working towards introducing developing new compact SUVs, which are just under four metres. This is one of the fastest growing segments, and today most of the automakers are working on it. However, Mahindra had different plans. The company did introduce the TUV300, which is a compact SUV but it has even got an SUV under that. This is the KUV100 and this is the smallest Mahindra passenger vehicle ever made. We lay our hands on the smallest Mahindra for a quick spin and tell you how good it is.
The KUV100 might be marketed as an SUV, but it is essentially a pumped up hatchback; one that will compete against the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Swift, the Hyundai Grand i10 and the newly launched Ford Figo. So, it has a monocoque chassis, a transverse mounted engine and front wheel drive. But, because it must be referenced as an SUV, the KUV100 naturally has high ground clearance too; 170mm of it. It isn’t very large though. At 3675mm in length, it is the shortest in its class. And its 2385mm wheelbase is the least as well. But the KUV100 stands tall at 1655mm (with roof rails) making it the tallest.
As far as styling goes, the front of this pumped-up hatchback has a sleek front grille, a buff bumper, and large pulled back headlamps with LEDs KUV100 embossing. The side profile looks aggressive thanks to the shallow greenhouse area. It also has its rear door handles integrated into the rear window panel aka Chevrolet Beat. The rear meanwhile is less aggressive, looks palatable and decently modern. The KUV100 is available in seven colours, Pearl White, Aquamarine, Dazzling Silver, Flamboyant Red, Fiery Orange, Designer Grey and Midnight Black.
Mahindra has done a good job with the KUV100’s interiors. The flowing dashboard design layout is simple but unique for its class. The new Mahindra steering wheel on the KUV100 looks nice and is good to hold too. The instrument cluster is easy to read and it even has driver information system with a gear-shift indicator. The centre console has a subtle design with AC vents, a simple looking in-dash music system, vertically stacked AC controls and a gear shifter alongside. The fit and finish and look and feel of the materials is acceptable but the build quality could have been better.
The KUV100 comes with two seating options: one with five seats and the other that can seat six. The six is a 3+3 seater with a bench like seat at the front while the five-seater version gets proper buckets seats up front. In the former, the driver and passenger gets three-point seat belts and airbags (airbags as an option unless one settles in for the top of the line K* version). But the front-middle passenger doesn’t get either; there’s only a lap belt and very little legroom.
For two people the space upfront is good. And at the rear, with three abreast, things don’t get too tight or uncomfortable. Helped of course by the class leading width of the KUV100. And because it is tall, head room is great too. Plus, the KUV100 has a smart cabin with lots of stowage spaces, thoughtfully positioned cup andbottle holders and some storage under the seats as well. The boot at 243 litres, however, is a little small. It has a high loading lip as well.
Features and equipment is one area where you can’t fault the Mahindra KUV100. The top of the line K8 has most bells and whistles. It gets dual airbags, ABS with EBD, keyless entry, in-dash music system with Bluetooth, USB and aux connectivity, steering mounted audio controls, electrically folding mirrors, daytime running LEDs, puddle lamps for all four doors, micro-hybrid technology, Power-Eco Mode (only for diesel engine), power outlet in the second row, ambient lighting, foldable rear seat and even ISOFIX child seat mounts.
The KUV100 comes with two engines with exactly the same capacity. The mFalcon G80, the petrol engine, is an all-aluminium three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol unit. It gets variable valve timing at both intake and exhaust sides. It makes 82bhp at 5500rpm and 115Nm of peak torque at 3500rpm.
It’s not the smoothest of engines. It has harsh vibrations at idle and it only really begins to pull after 4000rpm. As a result one has to work really hard to get the best performance from it. The power delivery though is linear and should be well suited for city driving given you aren’t in a hurry to get anywhere. It has an ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 18.15kmpl.
The mFalcon D75 is the diesel engine and makes 77bhp of power at 3750rpm and 190Nm at 1750-2250rpm. As is typical of diesels, the D75 is a bit noisy too. But again, power delivery is linear and usable. There’s no real kick that comes in once the turbo spools up and like the petrol, this one too should work well in the city. Both these engines are mated to a five-speed manual transmission which have crisp, short shifts. The clutch travel too is short and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.
As far as dynamics go, the Mahindra KUV100 isn’t the quickest handling car in its class but then that was expected given the height and weight of the KUV. The brakes though worked well and the steering wheel is light enough to make city driving convenient.
|Torque in Nm/RPM||115/3500||190/1750|
|Gears||5 Speed Manual||5 Speed Manual|
|Gross Weight Kgs||1080||1080|
|Turn Radius||5m 3s||5m 3s|
|ABS with EBD||Yes|
|Power Windows||Four of them|
|Outside Mirrors||Electrically Adjustable|
Competition All Specs
|Power in bhp/RPM||69 / 4000||70/4000||74/4000|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||115/||160/5000||190/2000|
|Gears||5 Speed Manual||5 Speed Manual||5 Speed Manual|
The KUV100 is a unique proposition as no other vehicle at this price point offers high ground clearance and an SUV-like stance. It has decent engines, is easy to drive and the fit and finish – though not best in class – isn’t bad by any stretch. But what really works for the KUV100 is the fact that it gets ABS as standard across all trims. And even then, it is priced superbly. It is a great value for money offering. The K8 is the best option and if you cannot afford it, then the K6 is a good value proposition as well.