Spicing Up The Sub-Compact SUV Segment

Review First Drive May 2019 Spicing Up Sub-Compact SUV Segment
Spicing Up The Sub-Compact SUV Segment

Unlike some of the mid-to-high-end SUV segments, UV major Mahindra & Mahindra’s product introductions in the compact and sub-compact SUV segments haven’t had much of a bull run in the Indian market. The Quanto, introduced in 2012, failed to attract the desired market response, while its smallest product – the KUV100 – didn’t have too many admirers as well. The company needed to find a strategy to capture a sizeable chunk of this ever-growing segment, and turned to its subsidiary SsangYong Motor with the idea of bringing the highly successful Tivoli to India. Almost three months after its launch, the XUV300 – built on the Tivli X100 platform – has continued to excite customers with its strong credentials.

INTRODUCTION

Based on the Ssangyong Tivoli, the new XUV300 is a sub four-meter compact SUV that competes against the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Ford EcoSport and the Tata Nexon. Mahindra is offering the XUV300 with two powertrain options and has packed in a multitude of features to ensure its offering ranks at the top of the list. But setting aside the basic checklist, Mahindra strode out to reinvent benchmarks in this segment. The XUV300 offers customers impeccable quality, segment-leading safety features and an incredibly robust powertrain performance. Auto Tech Review ran an exhaustive review of the XUV300 and here is what we made of the latest baby SUV from the Mahindra family.

The XUV300 looks modern and dynamic from the rear with unique looking tail lamps

PLATFORM & POWERTRAIN PERFORMANCE

Built on Ssangyong X100 platform, the XUV300 offers a robust construction and is capable of performing under varying conditions. While the Tivoli is longer than the XUV300, it was Mahindra’s endeavour to build this compact SUV as a sub-four meter model. Mahindra has carried forward the same wheelbase of the Tivoli on the XUV300, but in length the latter is shorter. This also results in a rather stout and flat front and an abrupt rear. All in all, the XUV300 does look proportionate but it’s a different story when looked at individually.

Looking closer at the dimensions of this SUV, we observed that the XUV300 is the widest among its competitors. The width of the SUV stands at 1,821 mm, while its length stands at 3,995 mm and the height stands at 1,627 mm. The wheelbase on the XUV300 measures 2,600 mm, which is one of the best in this segment.

While the vehicle offers impressive build quality and handling characteristics, the ride is complimented by a mildly stiff suspension set-up that grapples well with rough roads and bumps. The suspension system features a MacPherson Strut with an anti-roll bar for the front axle and a twist beam suspension with coil springs for the rear axle. The suspension has been finely tuned and aides in better handling dynamics. As a segment first, Mahindra has added driving modes for the steering set-up on the XUV300. While the steering does feel wooden, users can experience three steering modes – Normal, Sport and Comfort. The three modes are readily differentiable and one can choose between them as per the requirement. We found the Comfort mode most suited for city driving, while on the highways, drivers can opt for the Sports mode. In this mode, the steering weighs up well and has a slightly enhanced returnability.

The 1.5 l diesel engine is highly refined and sporty to drive, offering best-in-class power and torque

The XUV300 has been kitted with two engine options and Mahindra in its own right has developed the motors to perfection. The petrol engine, a 1.2 l, four-cylinder, turbocharged unit comes off the KUV and gets forced induction to offer premium performance. The diesel (which we had for the review) gets the 1.5 l, four-cylinder, turbocharged unit from the Marrazo, and quite like the Marazzo, offers very good refinement and performance. The diesel mill churns out a healthy 115 bhp at 3,750 rpm and 300 Nm of torque from 1,500-2,500 rpm.

The specs might sound good, but wait till you get behind the wheel. The performance is enough to catch you off guard and the engine is capable of revving freely upto its peak output. The meat of the power lies in the mid range and a heady dose of torque gets the compact SUV rolling in a hurry.

Mahindra has mated the engines in the XUV300 to a 6-speed manual transmission. While being smooth and hassle-free, the transmission has moderately short legs; this translates into more gear shifts in city driving conditions. Throws of the gear are reasonably short and the clutch leans to the lighter side. Overall, our experience with the transmission was quite seamless and effortless. The powertrain has been optimised to dish out an exhilarating performance and offers decent mileage figures in the city as well. We were able to extract 15-16 km/l in city driving conditions with the air-conditioning on. For highways and long drives, the fifth and sixth gears have enough room to accelerate to achieve high speeds and one doesn’t need to downshift to perform overtakes. While the XUV 300 accelerates with ease, Mahindra has offered a great deal of control by adding disc brakes on all four wheels. The system along with ABS and other driver aides offers good amount of control and reassuring stopping power.

The dashboard boasts of dual tone colour scheme and robust build quality; the instrument cluster has design elements reminiscent of the XUV500; a sunroof adds value to the XUV300’s lifestyle appeal

COMFORT, CONVENIENCE & PRACTICALITY

While the powertrain on the XUV300 offers great performance, this sub-compact SUV also comes with a truck load of features that sets it apart from its rivals. Mahindra has incorporated multiple safety features that offer customers more than any other compact SUV. To begin with, Mahindra has added seven airbags on the compact SUV. The top variants also get ESP with Roll-over Mitigation, Hill Hold Assist, ABS with EBD, Corner Braking Control and parking sensors for the front and the rear.

While the XUV300 has topped the charts on the safety front, the SUV also offers ample convenience and comfort features to make the driving experience even more pleasurable. The long list includes features such as keyless entry, push button start/stop, electric sunroof, power windows, cruise control, electrically operated & retracted ORVMs, heated ORVMs, auto dimming IRVM, dual zone climate control, micro hybrid technology, tyre tronics, rear parking camera, touchscreen infotainment with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, automatic headlamps and rain sensing wipers.

Seating on the XUV300 is quite comfortable and along with the segment’s largest wheelbase and width comes impressive interior space. The vehicle can easily seat five adults , with generous amounts of headroom and shoulder room on offer for all passengers in the cabin. The driver gets a height adjustable seat, while the front seat has a decent amount of padding to keep occupants well ensconced. While there is a lot of storage room for bottles and other goodies, we felt the boot space was a bit compromised and seemed smaller than some hatchbacks.

The XUV300’s boot is smaller than that of competitor offerings

ROUND-UP

The Mahindra XUV300 is one of the most anticipated compact SUVs that has come to the Indian market this year. With a great deal of hype around it, buyers and consumers alike would not go wanting for more, as it offers a one-stop package that is well rounded, robust and better than its competitors on many fronts. We feel that the top specification diesel W8 (Optional Pack) variant being offered at ` 11.99 lakh (ex-showroom) is a steal and Mahindra’s latest contender in the compact SUV segment is a force to reckon with.

TEXT: Joshua David Luther

PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay