Mahindra XUV300 DRIVE REVIEW: Gets It Right This Time!

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Mahindra XUV300 is the latest entrant into the sub-four-metre SUV segment and it romps into the scene with plenty of promises. But how does it stack up? Find out here!

Mahindra & Mahindra is on a roll lately with the introduction of brand new vehicles such as Marazzo and Alturas G4 as they have brought forth a new breed of exuberance into the domestic lineup. Both the models have been well-received among customers and enthusiasts alike putting more pressure on the volume-based XUV300 that has officially gone on sale on February 14 with starting price of Rs. 7.90 lakh (ex-showroom).

We got our hands on it to tell you what it feels like as the XUV300 was put through its paces in Goa. It is positioned in the most competitive segment outside of the entry-level space as the sub-four-metre SUV class has established rivals in the form of Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon and Ford EcoSport. Kudos to Mahindra for having another go at the segment as it has laid its hand on the sub-4m space with the ladder-on-frame based Quanto, NuvoSport and TUV300 already.

However, unlike the above three, the XUV300 is a completely different vehicle with lightweight monocoque construction and abundance use of high strength steel for higher toughness. But have they made any big impact on the way the XUV300 drives or is it the best of the latest crop of Mahindra vehicles with a distinctive character and not being a typical workhorse as its older siblings? Let us find out right here:

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Mahindra has apparently positioned the XUV300 as a premium offing in a price bracket not as aggressive as its competitors due to the contrast list of standard features. There are many reasons behind the decision including the upmarket cabin heavily influenced by the SsangYong Tivoli and packed features spewed across the range with high levels of occupants’ comfort and convenience in mind.

Exterior: Compact And Influential

The Mahindra XUV300 has been spawned out of the same lineage as its popular sibling XUV500. The nameplate it would carry was subjected to discussions for a long time and unlike the unique identity given to the flagship Alturas G4, Mahindra opted to stick by the traditional route and use the XUV300 name instead and it was indeed a step in the right direction.

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Its impact could even be seen on the exterior as the XUV300 has been crafted to bear several resemblances with the XUV500. While Mahindra considered a pool of design themes for the production version, it eventually went with a XUV500-based front fascia that has unique stature on its own with its very sharp and compact attitude as the SsangYong Tivoli.

Having striking similarities to the XUV500, the exterior possesses an edgy stance with sleek projector headlights and LED Daytime Running Rights dripping down to connect with the fog lights. Taking styling inspiration from Cheetah, according to Mahindra, the XUV300 has the muscular bonnet lines and rear quarter influenced by the Big Cat.

Adorning six-slot front grille, wide air inlet with horizontal chrome bars, black side cladding, contrast roof rail, aluminium skid plate, 215/55 17-inch machine cut alloy wheels, and blackened pillars, the XUV300 has a compact rear end just as the front with the Alturas G4 influenced horizontal LED tail lamps, black protective bumper with aluminium skid plates and single pipe exhaust, Mahindra emblem fitted in the middle of the tailgate and XUV300 badge at the right corner.

Dimensions: Allows For Enough Spacious

The compactness is due to the fact that the XUV300 is a sub-four-metre SUV based on the X100 platform as the SsangYong Tivoli that measures nearly 4.2 metres long. In comparison, it is taller by 27 mm and wider by 26 mm compared to the Tivoli but shorter and not as wide as the TUV300. It is wider than its main rivalling trio though with lowest booth space (257-625 litres) and fuel tank capacity (42 litres) in the segment.

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It also has 2,600 mm wheelbase, which is 100 mm longer than Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, 102 mm more than Tata Nexon and 81 mm in excess compared to Ford EcoSport as Mahindra emphasised on interior space. Overall, Mahindra has taken a different approach to the XUV300’s design which makes it unique when compared to Brezza, Nexon and EcoSport and it will be down to the matter of customers’ preference as each has a different flavour on its own.

Interior and Features: Sits Atop The Rivals

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The piano black finish on the interior adds a neat premium touch while good quality beige leather seats just as the Marazzo offer good side support. Mahindra has loaded a lot of features in the XUV300 right from the base W4 variant and they do separate it from some of its key competitors including the segment-leading Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza.

Equipment list includes dual front airbags with ISOFIX child seat mounts, electrically adjustable wing mirrors, gearshift indicator, different steering modes, audio system with 3.5-inch display, four speakers in diesel variant, 16-inch steel wheels as well as body coloured bumpers, door handles and mirrors. They make the XUV300 a good place to be even in a tight budget.

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The top-end model we drove had notable features like push button engine start/stop, seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and navigation, leather-wrapped steering wheel, segment-first dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette interior, sunroof, cruise control and six way power adjustable driver seat.

The convenience features offered are nothing but top-notch and combining them with a good looking interior Mahindra has hit all the right chords. The headroom and legroom for driver and front passenger are adequate while the back and thigh support is particularly good mainly for the rear occupants.

Safety Features: Packed And Secured

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It must be noted that the XUV300 subcompact SUV is brimmed with safety features right from the entry-level W4 variant as dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, reverse parking sensors, high-speed alert, speed sensing automatic door lock and seatbelt reminder are offered as standard. Mahindra says the XUV300 is engineered for “torsional and bending stiffness” and the use of 68 per cent high strength steel is another safety advantage.

Apart from the standard kit, Mahindra has gone a step further in terms of high-level safety equipment including segment-first seven airbags (Knee and side airbags), ESP (Electronic Stability Program) with Hill Hold, TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System), reversing camera with dynamic guidelines, first-in-class heated wing mirrors, seatbelt reminder for all seats and front parking sensors as well as auto-dimming inside rearview mirror.

Engine, Performance And Mileage: Ticks The Boxes

The compact SUV derives power from two engine choices: a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel. The former produces 110 bhp at 5,000 rpm and 200 Nm of peak torque delivered at 2,000-3,500 rpm while the latter is the same motor as Marazzo but slightly de-tuned to generate 115 bhp at 3,750 rpm and 300 Nm between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm.

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Both the powertrains are mated to six-speed manual transmission as automatic gearbox will be introduced at a later time. Thanks to the e-VGT, when the turbo kicks in, you could feel the rush of the engine wanting to shift up the gear. The diesel engine we drove is the same unit as the Marazzo but detuned slightly in power.

The powertrain is impressive when cruising and within the torque range but in traffic situations, it does need to be worked out by constantly shifting down the gears. The transmission itself was quite smooth and responsive, and Mahindra has done a good job of setting it up as you could push it all along to three-digit speeds from 30s in third gear itself with ease. The claimed fuel economy of 17 kmpl for petrol and 20 kmpl for diesel are achievable as both the engines behave optimally on cruising speeds.

Ride, Handling And Comfort: Better Yet

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MacPherson strut with anti-roll bar front and twist beam with coil spring rear suspension system absorb the bumps very well on well-laid tarmac and on slightly beaten path. But, when the going gets tough and you end up channelling through gravel or off-roading, the suspension does give away and exposes itself to less-than-favourable comfort factor inside the cabin for the driver as well as occupants.

The first-in-class disc brakes on all four wheels do give confidence for the driver to push on open roads and while cornering the body roll is very minimal. Even taking the winding corners at high speeds, the manageable body roll and high responsiveness provided by the brakes allow you to have a good time behind the wheel.

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The steering wheel has different modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. The Comfort mode gives the best of both worlds in terms of responsiveness and feedback while the Sport is a bit too heavy. Normal mode can also be used in regular conditions especially for daily routine driving. The wind noise is well restricted inside the cabin but the vibration can be felt on steering wheel at certain speeds and it could have been avoided.

Verdict: Doesn’t Lack The Substance

Mahindra XUV300 is not a hurriedly put together SUV by any means and in fact it is one of the best you can buy in the domestic market currently. The wide track does allow the XUV300 to be a better handling machine and it ticks all the right boxes in terms of practicality and offering space inside the cabin for five occupants.

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Moreover, the plethora of segment-first features speak for themselves and the X100 platform from Tivoli with high strength steel construction coupled with seven airbags and other safety features make it a compelling buy for customers wanting to own a SUV with high safety standards.

Having sampled only the 1.5-litre diesel engine with manual transmission, we must say the class-leading torque figures do come in handy in more occasions than one. But we do feel it could have offered more in jammed up traffic conditions, let alone being a sublime performer on the highways.

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The suspension noise could have also been reduced off-the-road, it feels uncomfortable even during mild off-roading. Mahindra has priced the XUV300 W4 right up against Vitara Brezza VDi as there is no low-level W2 petrol variant to stand toe-to-toe against Nexon XE petrol for buyers on a very tight budget.