The Mahindra XUV300 has come a long way. With very little being changed since its inception, it shows the original car’s package is exceptionally beyond relevant. When the BS6 transition happened, Mahindra continued with the petrol and diesel offerings, however, only the latter got the automatic gearbox option back then. Now, it’s the petrol model’s turn to give some left-leg freedom to its users. So without any further ado, let get going with what there’s to know about this petrol automatic.
Over the years, Mahindra hasn’t messed around with the XUV300’s styling as such. This is proof enough that it looks contemporary even today, especially with the advent of newer segment entrants. But truth be told, XUV300’s nose is a handsome one with all the detailing. At the same time, the rear section looks more like an afterthought. One that doesn’t gel well with the front, but certainly is far from ugly. All things said and done, this is one compact SUV that you wouldn’t mistake for being a raised-hatch.
For starters, the XUV300 hasn’t seen any updates since its launch. So as a recap, the dual-tone interiors lend a fresh, attractive, and airy ambience unlike some of its dark-cabin segment contenders. Not only is the quality of materials good, but it feels robust enough to take on the test of time head-on. We took a special liking to the lavish use of silver trim to highlight the centre console and steering.
Likewise, the large comfortable front seats combined with favourable ergonomics and good all-around visibility make for a soothing experience. Although space isn’t a concern in the front, the same can’t be said about the rear. Having the longest wheelbase in the segment hasn’t translated into the best knee- and head-room. Sadly, it’s just acceptable, so to say. Plus, the 257-litre boot isn’t as accommodating as you’d want it.
A first for the XUV300 is the BlueSense Connected car technology that gets 40 connected car features including location-based services and control for various other car features. Meanwhile, there’s a seven-inch touchscreen with a simple interface to work around with, leather seats, sunroof, cruise control, navigation, heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control, and projector headlamps with LED DRLs. Safety is taken care of by the dazzling five-star NCAP safety rating, seven airbags, ABS with EBD, hill-hold function, four disc-brakes, front parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring, and child-seat anchoring.
At launch, the XUV300 only had manual gearbox options for its petrol and diesel engines. Shortly thereafter, the diesel received an AMT automatic gearbox, and late last year, it was the petrol model’s turn to witness its share of self-shifts. This AutoShift AMT box is mated to the 109bhp/200Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol motor. Surprisingly, there’s hardly any buzz from this motor at idle.
But above all, it’s the gear shifter’s queer design that requires some studying before you get on the move. The shift stick moves in a ‘+’ pattern, with A (Auto) and M (Manual) options to the left, N (Neutral) to the right, R (reverse) just below it, and pull it back and forth over the + and - to take care of the up-and down-shifting chores. Agreed that it needs some getting-used-to, owing to the lack of ‘D’ (drive) and ‘P’ (Park), but it feels intuitive overall.
Tapping the gearstick once to the left slots the box into Auto mode, after which, letting go of the brakes will get have the XUV300 creep ahead without any throttle inputs. This comes in handy in stop-and-go traffic. Nonetheless, applying some throttle is advisable if you’re on an incline as it tends to stutter otherwise. On the go, there’s more than enough grunt for most slow speed stunts and once past the 2,000rpm mark, there’s a noticeable gush of usable power that flows in till the 5,000rpm redline.
But you can’t term it as an interrupted power delivery on account of the AMT pause that occurs each time the gears shift. They’re even more pronounced when the throttle is fully depressed. Yet, given the system’s soft-spot for shifting around the 2,500rpm mark, we were able to contemplate these pauses for the better. Alternatively, tapping the lever twice to the left for M (Manual) mode allows one to shift gears themselves; like for emergency overtakes. Overall, this motor lightens the work of both city and highway duties while still maintaining convenience for the left foot.
Since no other mechanical tweaks have made it to the XUV300 other than the addition of the AMT gearbox, the ride and handling is the same deal. Just to remind you, regardless of the speed, the XUV300 offers a plush ride owing to good damping from its shock absorbers. Better still, even the harsh bumps are well subdued, with only acceptable levels of NVH felt inside. To sum it up, the unfazed ride invokes peace-of-mind motoring, an experience that’s amplified by the solid stopping power from having discs on all four corners.
Sure, the steering may sound slow as a consequence of it having almost three turns from lock-to-lock, but its response is governed by three settings - Normal, Comfort, and Sport. While you may need to rewire your brain-ware to detect the minute differences between the first two, they make the steering light and reasonably direct. In contrast, ‘Sport’ adds extra heft to the steering, which although feels artificial, makes spirited driving around bends fulfilling.
With the competition heating up persistently in the compact SUV segment, it’s better off late than never, that Mahindra ventured into the petrol-auto slice of the pie. Plus, the fact that it also throws in some connected-car tech into the brew will undoubtedly work for those folks who love owning all the latest features. The only real drawback is the restrictive space at the rear. So, will the two-pedal turbo-petrol XUV300 penetrate the market the way Mahindra sees it? Well, we certainly feel so.
Pictures by Kapil Angane