Not many know this but it’s the Mahindra Quanto that bucked the trend and kick-started the compact crossover rage among Indian buyers. With no signs of the EcoSport in Ford dealerships back then and the totally underwhelming Premier Rio as its only competition, the Quanto had it easy early on. However, Mahindra couldn’t capitalise its first-mover advantage as the Quanto’s sales dwindled over the following months, especially once Ford India brought out the EcoSport. Now with the NuvoSport, Mahindra is having another crack at a segment which, as we know, has evolved momentously in the last few years.
In many ways the NuvoSport is quite complex. Firstly, Mahindra has dropped the Xylo-derived ladder-frame in favour of a modified version of the Scorpio’s lighter and stronger hydroformed chassis. Having gone through the trouble of giving the NuvoSport a fairly new foundation, it’s surprising that Mahindra hasn’t done much to change both the exterior and the interior. Yes, the front-end is all new and it looks much nicer and agreeably sportier, but rest of the exterior and most of the interior looks more or less the same.
The NuvoSport is priced around the TUV300, Mahindra’s other crossover utility model. That said, It’s nowhere as rugged looking as the TUV. Instead, Mahindra is publicising the NuvoSport as a lifestyle vehicle, meaning it ought to look sporty and outdoorsy. In this regard, the NuvoSport does well thanks to its completely redesigned front-end. There’s the signature Mahindra grille design with vertical slats, a large bonnet scoop (first in this segment) and flared wheel arches. This new look, however, is spoiled slightly with the oddly positioned daytime running lights sitting separately above the headlights. In profile, the NuvoSport retains the high-riding stance of the old Quanto but adds more street presence via some nice looking 16-inch alloy wheels. The rear-end again is pretty much the same and continues to feature a neatly mounted spare wheel over the tailgate.
The interior is among the least appealing bits of the NuvoSport. To begin with, there are far less changes as far as the design and the layout of materials are concerned. Mahindra has retained most of the Quanto’s dashboard though there are all-new bits like the instrument cluster, the TUV-derived switchgear and a new touchscreen infotainment system but that’s about it. The latter unit though has an awkward viewing angle and isn’t as nice to use as the one in the Scorpio. Dig deeper and you will find some more quirks like the lack of information on the instrument cluster (all of the driver-related data is shown on the mini display above the centre console) and the oddly shaped central air vents. In terms of features, the top-spec N8 variant is loaded to the boot with standard equipment including a 6.2-inch touchscreen Infotainment system, ECO/power mode, cruise control, driver information system and electric mirrors. More importantly, what’s really commendable is the fact that dual airbags and ABS with EBD are available as optional from base variant while they are standard from mid variant.
The interior may not be as stylish as some of Mahindra’s other offerings but it’s certainly both spacious and flexible. The NuvoSport is being offered as a 7-seater, however, the tiny side facing seats are hardly comfortable even for short journeys. What’s more, the lack of seatbelts renders them pretty much unsafe. Fortunately, things improve a lot as you move ahead onto the first and second row. As you may have guessed by looking at it, the NuvoSport is the widest and the tallest in its class, something which is apparent once seated in. The cabin is quite flexible as well with 60:40 split for the rear seats. Additionally, the second row of seats can be reclined for better comfort over those long journeys but to do that, one needs to fold down the third row seats to make room for the recline angle.
Underneath the revised exterior and the same old interior, the NuvoSport gets a 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine that delivers 100bhp of power and 240Nm of torque. It’s a lightened and cleaner version of the Quanto’s three cylinder motor. What’s entirely new here is the optional AMT gearbox that can be paired to this engine. The addition of an AMT will surely add to the NuvoSport’s appeal among urban dwellers. Chassis wise, the NuvoSport uses a modified version of the latest-gen Scorpio platform designed to offer better shock absorption. Look for our comprehensive first drive report to know how the NuvoSport feels out on the road.
The NuvoSport is now on sale with ex-showroom prices ranging Rs 7.35 lakh and Rs 9.98 lakh. This time around, it not only faces Ford India but also the biggest player in the business, Maruti Suzuki with their Vitara Brezza. Its familiar design and dated interiors may not impress all, but as a spacious and flexible utility vehicle boasting a certain degree of toughness all around, the NuvoSport is worth a look.