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Mahindra TUV300

What is it?

As for its roots, the new Mahindra TUV300 sits on a shortened version of the new Scorpio’s body-on-ladder platform. And therefore, compared to the Quanto, the TUV is lighter, more rigid and dynamically more capable. It also gets an improved engine with lots of friction reducing and lightened components, which should make the TUV significantly more efficient in the real world.

How is it inside?

Surprisingly good! It’s spacious, good on features and practicality, and the build quality isn’t bad either. The TUV300 is sold as a 5+2 seater, but with no seat belts for the jump seats in the boot, we’d label this only as a 5-seater, no more. Now, even though the TUV300 is sub-4m car, it has enough head, shoulder and knee room to challenge the likes of the Duster. And, that’s saying something! Plus, the seats - front and back - are firm, supportive and accommodating. And the ones at the front also get usable armrests.

Add to it enough storage space, cup and bottle holders, and charging points, not to mention Bluetooth telephony, steering-mounted audio controls and parking sensors, and the TUV300 makes for one convenient car to spend long hours in, driving or otherwise. But, it is the fact that one can opt for airbags and ABS on any TUV trim level which truly sets this SUV apart. This is forward thinking in our book, especially for its class of cars.

 

How does it drive?

…like a body-on-ladder SUV that thinks it’s a ballet dancer. We know Mahindra made huge improvements in the new Scorpio in areas like chassis, suspension and braking. And, that learning can be seen on the TUV300 as well. Moreover, because the TUV is lighter, and it has a more squarish footprint, this sub-4m SUV feels better still around a series of bends; it is more composed, lighter on its feet when making direction changes, and more stable and less wayward under hard braking. The steering feels more alive and sharper too.

But, among its class of cars, the TUV300 is still found wanting; I guess, there’s just no getting away from all that weight that comes from being a ladder-based SUV. The TUV300 rolls around - at times excessively - when driven hard around corners. And, because it has a blocky tread pattern, grip levels aren’t great either, especially in the wet.

But, the body-on-ladder construction has its advantages too. For one, having such an SUV means, one doesn’t have to bother with the potholes, the speed breakers, the waterlogged underpasses, or the end of the world, the TUV just sails through it all. It is hardy; it smothers almost everything in its way; and even though it has an underlying stiffness to its ride, not to mention, the jiggle characteristic of body-on-ladder construction, the TUV300 still makes for a planted and pleasing ride.

As with the TUV300’s ride quality, its engine - the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder diesel with 84bhp and 230Nm of peak torque – is agreeable too. It is refined for a three cylinder, and quiet. It has good low and mid-range torque which makes driving in the city a breeze. It doesn’t require frequent gear changes, for it pulls without hesitation even from as low as 1,400rpm.

Moreover, there’s hardly any turbo lag; the power delivery and throttle response is linear; and the TUV300 has a light, progressive and easy-on-the-calf clutch operation.

However, unlike other Mahindra engines, this one seems a bit weak when it comes to packing in performance, especially towards the top. In fact, if you like driving quickly, prefer quick overtakes, or even a healthy top speed, the TUV just won’t do it for you. Not only does the engine lose steam by the time it hits 3,500rpm, it also gets noisy. The best way to drive this Mahindra then is to short shift, and ride the mid- range.

Should I buy one?

If you can digest that styling, I don’t see many reasons why you shouldn’t. Sure, the engine could do with a bit more grunt, and the ride quality could be more car-like, but these are no way near poor to be deal breakers. Plus, it has its upsides: there’s space, features, safety kit, and the ability to take on the rough; in other words, it’s a quintessential SUV. The price at Rs 8.5 lakh ex-showroom for this the top of the line T8 version is tempting too.

Where does it fit in?

Mahindra believes the TUV300 is competition to the Ford EcoSport and the lower-specced versions of the Renault Duster. But, both the EcoSport and the Duster are monocoque SUVs and the TUV will find it hard to better the two when it comes to dynamics or fuel efficiency plainly on account of being heavier. It does have space, price and ruggedness in its favour, no doubt. But the question is, will it be enough?

 

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