Mahindra intends going the Maruti way with its affordable range of SUVs. How else would you explain the company bringing back its first sub-4 metre SUV, albeit in a new form to the market, which already has the well-selling TUV300? Say hello to the NuvoSport, a better looking and newer iteration of the erstwhile Quanto. Mahindra says the NuvoSport is based on a newer, lighter ladder frame platform compared to the Quanto. And it is. Underpinning the NuvoSport is the same ladder platform that made its debut in the new Scorpio and then made its way under the TUV300. So, is the NuvoSport a whole new proposition, as Mahindra would have us believe?
The Mahindra NuvoSport does look decidedly different and better than the Quanto, no doubt. It gets a completely different face with a new grille, new fenders, new hood and a new bumper. It gets new headlamps too and an LED eyebrow, which doubles up as daytime running, lights.
The NuvoSport also runs more side cladding, gets newly designed 16-inch alloy wheels and though things remain more or less the same at the rear, the tail lamps are new. Otherwise, it’s Quanto all the way. Since it is expensive to redo the shell, the NuvoSport uses the same roof and doors from the Quanto and even the outside skin for the latter hasn’t changed much.
Since the shell continues unchanged, Mahindra hasn’t bothered to redo the interiors wholeheartedly either. So, the dashboard, the door paneling and even the overall layout of the NuvoSport interiors continue unchanged from the Quanto. Mahindra hasn’t even updated the quality of plastic or fit and finish for the new SUV and compared to its own sibling the TUV300, the NuvoSport falls short in the quality and build stakes. Even the way the dials and knobs for the aircon (which are in fact borrowed from the TUV) or the ORVMs or the light and wiper stalks operate leave something to be desired.
In terms of equipment, the NuvoSport misses out on some crucial gear like climate control, rear AC vents, a cooled glovebox and there’s no reversing camera either; which we thought was a must at this price point. Instead it gets front and rear armrests, a touchscreen audio with Bluetooth, USB and AUX connectivity and a multifunctional steering wheel; most of which its competition also gets.
Where the Mahindra NuvoSport scores high, is space. It comfortably has more head, shoulder and kneeroom both front and back, and with the rear jump seats folded, there’s good luggage space at the back as well. The seats are comfy too. These are soft, large and not short on support either. Plus, the rear bench not only splits and folds to liberate more luggage space, it also reclines, albeit only with the jump seats folded down. Meaning only if you have five occupants can you use the recline feature in the second row.
The NuvoSport might be based on the same platform as the TUV300, but it gets a more powerful engine. The mHawk 100 - as it is christened - makes 100bhp and class-leading torque of 240Nm. It is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. There’s also an option of an AMT setup, by the way. The manual meanwhile isn’t the best in terms of shift quality but Mahindra has done well to space out its gearing. So, even though the 1493cc, three-cylinder turbodiesel has some lag under 1500rpm, the short gearing ensures the SUV rarely falls under the 1800rpm mark. So, unless you go looking for that lag, you won’t notice it is there.
The engine works well on other fronts too. It is torquey, refined and it isn’t exactly lazy revving either. It might not help the NuvoSport clock the fastest 0-100kmph times in its class, but driveability wise, it gave us no reason to complain; then be it keeping up with traffic in the city or out overtaking cars on the highway.
The engine also comes with two driving modes. The default is called the Power mode. Here, one gets all of 100bhp, progressive and reasonably quick throttle response and an rpm range that cuts off at 4,500rpm. In the Eco mode, the engine power drops to around 72bhp. The throttle is duller and the engine struggles to rev past 3,500rpm. As you can tell, it’s not the mode for adventure seekers - the NuvoSport’s target audience. However, if you decide to buy one as a taxi, it should prove helpful in delivering better kilometres to the litre figures.
When it comes to ride and handling, meanwhile, the NuvoSport’s ladder base turns out to be its Achilles heel. Because of this construction, the NuvoSport is naturally heavier than its competition. And this means when subjected to some serious cornering, it struggles to manage its weight. The turn in is slow (also thanks to a slow steering rack), the body roll is pronounced (all that height, weight and longer travel suspension does take its toll), and around tighter corners, it loses its battle to understeer, and quite frequently at that.
The ride quality isn’t anything to write home about either. It takes on the most severe road conditions in its stride, yes – it never crashes or thuds loudly or behaves skittishly. But, it lacks the pliancy and composure of its monocoque-based competition. The NuvoSport has noticeable side-to-side movement over uneven roads at slow speeds and high, and its rear tends to bounce uncomfortably if not loaded when exiting undulations at speed. There’s also constant jiggling to its ride.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||100 @ 3750|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||240 @ 1600|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||60|
|Tyre size||215/65 R16|
|Touchscreen infotainment system||Yes|
|180mm ground clearence||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Engine Capacity||1.3-litre||1.5-litre four-cyliner||1.5-litre|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||89 @ 4000||99 @ 3750||100 @ 3750|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||200 @ 1750||205 @ 1750||240 @ 1600|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||48||52||60|
|Tyre size||215/ 60 R16||205/ 60 R16||215/65 R16|
Mahindra could have done a lot more with the NuvoSport given it is targeted at the urban buyer. Having gone for a new ladder frame has helped, of course, but not having upgraded its interior in terms of design, layout and quality, wasn’t the smartest of moves. From what we can tell, Mahindra had a product it could use to add to its kitty of sub 4-metre SUVs, a segment it feels will grow significantly, and that’s exactly what it has done with the NuvoSport.
So, is it a whole new proposition? No. And honestly, given that the TUV300 looks fresher, more modern and better built on the inside, not to mention it comes with a lower price tag, we’d say the TUV300 still makes a better buy; its lower power and torque figures notwithstanding.
Photo Courtesy By : Kapil Angane