The compact SUV segment is burgeoning in India with the Rs 8 lakhs to Rs 16 lakhs price bracket expecting to see maximum action within the next few years. Obviously, everyone wants in on the action with the latest player being Mahindra, who introduced this car that you see in the pictures- the XUV300.
While this is not Mahindra’s first foray into this group of cars, it appears to be the carmaker's most comprehensive effort in terms of design and features. The XUV300, in essence, is the SsangYong Tivoli but with compacted dimensions to fit our sub-4 metre rules and regulations.
The sub-4 metre SUV segment is one where design has been dictated by the rules and regulations of the game and this means a greater emphasis on design language to make the car an attractive proposition. The face is dominated by heavy doses of chrome. It’s in the signature Mahindra six-slat grille, bumpers and there is even some in the head lamps assembly but it is not overly done.
In profile, the hips of the car widen out as we move towards the rear while the blacked out pillars give the impression of a floating roofline. Of particular interest to me is the swirly design of the 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels that give the effect of the car being in motion all the time.
The design at the back can summed up in one word- Butch. Mahindra has put in chunky elements to beef up the appearance of the car. The wedge-like LED tail lamps sit on the edge of body lines while the rear bumper gets a dual tone setup and a minimal amount of badging. There is a nice thick waist line below the number plate slot and this adds a layered element to the overall design.
This top-of-the-line model that we have driven gets a white leatherette upholstery with a black and silver on the dashboard, centre console and steering wheel. Thanks to this colour combination, the cabin feels airy, light and very pleasant to sit in. Up front, the car gets side bolstering as a part of the seats and they do wrap around you well, but they aren’t as soft as we would have liked them to be.
The rear offers a similar level of padding but lacks the shoulder room thereby making three people sitting abreast a bit of challenge. In fact, when you look at the numbers in terms of the competition, the XUV300 offers 1300mm of rear shoulder room as compared to the Tata’s Nexon’s, Maruti Brezza’s and Ford EcoSport’s 1380mm,1340mm and 1310mm respectively. These might be small differences but when you consider three adults squeezed into the rear, this does come prominently into play.
Mahindra has loaded up the XUV300 with quite a bit of kit (which we have spoken about a few paragraphs down) and that’s all very impressive but there are a few things that we found could be better. Most of the plastic elements are hardwearing but are pretty much along the lines of what is offered across the segment. However, Mahindra has also used glossy plastics generously across the cabin and these do wonders to enhance the premium feel of the car.
Apart from the bottle holders on the doors, Mahindra has also fitted a front arm rest glove box, cup holders in the front and rear, an oddly-shaped open space on the front passenger side as well as an extremely deep glove with enough space to store a laptop.
One of the new and rather obvious approaches to this game (which is just heating up) is provide a large amount of equipment as a part of the car’s feature list. The car that we have driven is a top-of-the-line W8 (O) variant and it has got quite a few features for a (claimed) ex-showroom price of Rs 12 lakhs.
This list includes seven airbags, cruise control, heated ORVMs, dual zone climate control (first in segment), steering modes, 7.0-inch touchscreen system with Android Auto/Apple Car Play, front parking sensors, wireless charging and a sunroof.
If this list wasn’t comprehensive enough, they have added some little extra touches just to improve the ‘oomph’ appeal of the car. There’s mood lighting for the cabin as well as the instrument console, parking guides with reverse camera and even a system that tells you which direction the front wheels are pointed at when you start up the car. A few years ago, these bits of kit were the forte of cars closer to the Rs 20 lakhs price bracket, making it clear that Mahindra isn’t mucking about when it comes to taking on the competition at this end of the scale.
The Mahindra XUV300 is being offered with two engine options- a 1.2-litre turbo petrol producing 110bhp/200Nm and a 1.5-litre diesel producing 115bhp/300Nm. Both engines can only be had with a six-speed manual. We’ve got behind the wheel of the diesel and considering the various other cars in the segment, we expect that this one will be the more popular choice among buyers.
It’s the same engine found in the Marazzo and is down in terms of power but no change in torque figures. This is the first car in this segment to hit the 300Nm mark and having this large an amount available in the range of 1700-2500rpm is a major boon when it comes to mid-range driveability. At city speeds, quick overtakes in third gear can be done and dusted with hardly any effort while, out on the highway, this car can do 120kmph in sixth gear at just 2200rpm and this should no doubt translate into good figures for highway efficiency. In terms of the shift action, the throws are not smooth and having to tug on a notch to engage reverse can get tiresome as it feels very heavy. However, the clutch action is surprisingly light and very easy to engage.
The ride quality, while absorbent and cushioning, is very audible and makes you very aware of everything that you are passing over. At low speeds, one can hear everything but there’s hardly anything felt in the cabin. Simply put, this car calmly glides over the usual set of rutted paths, speed breakers and imperfections found on our roads these days.
One of the new bits of kit that Mahindra is offering with the XUV300 is three steering modes- comfort, normal and sport to give the driver a bit more involvement in the overall experience. We barely found any differences between normal and comfort mode, but in sport mode the steering did feel heavier but only marginally so over the other two modes.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||115@3750rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||300@1500rpm|
|Tyre size||215/60 R16|
Working in its favour is the fact that the Mahindra XUV300's features list is massive, the diesel engine has great driveability and all things considered it looks quite good from many angles. However, the quality of plastics, audible ride and rather glaringly the lack of an AT option do weigh strongly in the opposite direction.
This is an important car for Mahindra. It is right in the thick of action with regard to the new preference of car buyers who are upgrading from A-segment and B-segment cars or for those shopping around with a big budget. If Mahindra prices it, as they say, in the range of Rs 8 lakhs to Rs 12 lakhs, Mahindra is looking at a money spinner in its line-up and this is something that will be revealed on 14 February. The Mahindra XUV300 is a rival to the likes of the Tata Nexon, Ford EcoSport, Honda WR-V and the Maruti Vitara Brezza.
Picture Credits - Kaustubh Gandhi