In India, compact SUVs have become quite the vogue lately. And rightly so, considering the practicality it offers like more space, extra seating options, competitive pricing and of course, a commanding road presence. Most manufacturers have started to come up with their takes on this segment. However, Mahindra, a popular name in the utility vehicle segment, already has a strong contender in the form of the TUV300. This mile munching, old-school compact SUV can seat six passengers and one driver while gobbling potholes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Mahindra TUV300 is a popular name, especially in Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets. Over the years, the TUV300 has been subjected to a fair share of criticism, especially over its looks. The boxy design is not exactly a head-turner, but then, it is not bad looking either! When I first saw the updated model, the new five-slat grille and fog lamp inserts with piano black finish caught my attention along with the revised smoke finished head lamps that house the new white illuminated day-time-running lights. The bright red dual-tone top-spec T10 (O) trim comes with a black roof with roof rails and a rear spoiler. Also, the revised bumpers now get a faux skid plate and black cladding that runs along the sides of the car. The rear also looks fresh with the clear lens tail lamps and a simple yet distinctive X-shaped spare wheel cover.
Owing to the fresh styling updates, this TUV300 is expected to lure in more buyers as compared to its predecessor. Although the new update is not too distinct, it seems to be just enough to get the game going for Mahindra until it decides to launch a new generation TUV300.
The cabin of the TUV300 has a bright and roomy feel to it, thanks to the large glass area. Furthermore, the seats with the dual-tone quilted leather upholstery give it a premium feel. A 17.8cm colour touchscreen infotainment system replaces the older double-din audio system. The one we tested also featured a reverse parking camera, which performed quite well even in low light conditions. The touchscreen system, however, misses out on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Coming to the driving position, it is one of the best in the segment and offers sufficient amount of lumbar support while driving. Also, the new monochrome MID display is effortless to read and gives out all the necessary information.
In terms of space, the front seats offer enough legroom for the driver as well as the passenger. However, passengers seated in the middle and last row with jump seats would find it a bit uncomfortable. This is quite expected in a compact SUV with a third row layout. Sadly, the vehicle does not offer adequate boot space even with the jump seats folded up. The Mahindra TUV300 gets an open pocket on the dashboard to keep coins or parking receipts for easy access, however it would have been more convenient if the vehicle offered large cubby holes on the centre console. The door pockets offer sufficient storage spaces and can comfortably hold a litre water bottle.
The feature list further includes storage space below driver’s seat, driver and co-driver armrest, follow-me-home headlamps and electric mirrors. Being a top spec variant, the two 12V sockets with chrome inserts would have been better than the existing ones that come with a make-shift arrangement.
The updated Mahindra TUV300 continues to be powered by the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder mHawk 100 engine that puts out 100bhp and 240Nm of torque. Sadly, this time around, you don’t get the AMT option and it is only limited to a five-speed manual transmission. The mHawk 100 engine that drives the rear-wheels powers the TUV300 sufficiently enough to make that safe overtake. However, it misses out on the fun factor that car enthusiasts seek. That said, it is commendable how the vehicle accelerates with that small three-cylinder engine and heavy bodyweight. The clutch too is light and gearshifts are quite effortless, especially if you compare it with the older generation of Mahindra SUVs.
The Mahindra TUV300 further gets a tractable engine and picks up comfortably in every gear. Impressively, there is no turbo lag and one can sail through the entire day using just the third and fourth gear! Also, there is no clatter from the diesel engine even while idling or off-the-line. The power delivery and throttle response is linear and it sprints pretty well, especially from 1500rpm all the way up to 3000rpm. Although the engine revs until 4,800rpm, the power tapers off sharply beyond 3,500rpm. Nonetheless, the TUV300 gets one of the best Mahindra engines till date.
What’s more, the TUV300, being based on a body-on-frame platform, comes with a great suspension setup that literally absorbs every bump and broken patch with ease. This quality has made it a popular choice in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities where it is put to test everyday on difficult terrains with extra luggage and people. However, this body frame has a downside too; the body-roll is quite evident and it definitely does not feel as planted as its monocoque competitors. The steering too is a little vague and is slightly stiff, especially at lower speeds. But then, it is not something that is too bothersome.
The Mahindra TUV300 makes for a good choice for people who love going off the path once in a while. The vehicle also offers you a six passenger plus one driver seat layout unlike its competitors that offer four passenger plus one driver layout. Moreover, the compact SUV has a good build quality and one can rest assured that it will take on most tasks thrown its way with ease. And while the opinion on looks can be subjective, I found this car to be rather decent-looking. Also, this might not be the most refined compact SUV out there, but it definitely outperforms its contenders when it comes to off-road capabilities. Overall, the Mahindra TUV300 is a value for money package and a good people carrier.