Mahindra has been making utility vehicles for four scores and more now. With changing times we have seen M&M badged vehicles adorn the contemporary attire to stay relevant. Take a look at the XUV300 we have here for example. When it was introduced in India a couple of years ago, it had an arduous task of locking horns with well-established rivals like the Ford EcoSport, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, and the homegrown Tata Nexon. Yet, it carved a place for itself in the competitive segment and stayed relevant even when the newer crop of sub-four metre SUVs popped up.
Marching on with a petrol and diesel engine options despite the BS6 transition, the XUV300 also had an option of automatic for the diesel – only a handful of cars offer this combination. Now, Mahindra has updated the XUV300 line-up with an automatic for the petrol engine. We have driven it and you can read our first-drive review by clicking here. Now, we take a deeper look and tell you five reasons you should get yourself the XUV300 Petrol AutoShift, and two reasons why you should look elsewhere.
1. Handsome Looking
Looks can be subjective, but there won’t be many who would disagree with the fact that the XUV300 has a handsome looking fascia. Yes, the rear doesn’t match the macho, squared-jaw look of the baby XUV but it isn’t exactly pug-ugly. Its upright nose, long bonnet and well-defined rear haunch add to its charm. It’s a sub-four metre SUV you’d take seriously, rather than dismiss it as a raised-hatch.
2. Five-star NCAP Rating
With growing concerns of safety amongst Indian car buyers, Mahindra has a trick up its sleeve for the XUV300 – Five Star NCAP Safety rating. Last year, the XUV300 also bagged Global NCAP’s first-ever ‘safer choice’ award, an accolade reserved for achieving the highest levels of safety performance for cars sold in India.
The XUV300 achieved five stars in rating for adult occupant protection and four stars for child occupant protection and also scored the highest combined occupant safety rating of any car tested under Global NCAP’s ‘Safer Cars For India’ campaign. That can be the sole reason for getting yourself the XUV300.
3. Long equipment list
This top-spec W8 (O) we have here has a long list of features. In terms of safety, the XUV300 is equipped with seven airbags, hill-hold function, four disc-brakes, front parking sensors, TPMS, and child-seat anchoring. Other features include push-button start, leather seats, sunroof, cruise control, navigation, heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control with its own set of memory function, LED DRLs, and projector headlamps to name a few. The seven-inch touchscreen is well-placed and has a simple interface to work around with. It is good to touch and operate too and comes with all the smartphone connectivity options available.
4. Convenience of a two-pedal setup
Paired to the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine is a five-speed AMT which Mahindra likes to call AutoShift. We know by now that this is a pretty refined engine which puts out a healthy 109bhp and 200Nm of max torque. Paired with an AMT, you get a creep function here – pretty useful while driving in traffic.
There’s a good amount of grunt to keep ambling at slow speeds but once the tachometer crosses 2,000rpm, there’s a noticeable surge in power. Moreover, the automatic holds on to the gear close to 2,500rpm thus helping you carry on a moment after an upshift. Although all of the power is at disposal close to 4,000rpm, the motor revs freely to redline. But, at sedate speeds, the engine sits comfortably under 2,000rpm and responds nicely when the need arises for accelerating swiftly. Shift to the manual mode, and the AMT response is good and fairly in control, holding on to the gears and only downshifting when absolutely necessary.
5. BlueSense - New Connected Car Tech
To keep up with time, Mahindra has also introduced their BlueSense Connected car technology in the XUV300 line-up, but it’s only available in this top-spec model. As we have seen in the competition before it, the connected tech comes with 40 connected car features including location-based services and control for various other car features. Not only do you get detailed information directly on your smartphone, you can even control some of the car’s features remotely. The information it gives out includes tyre pressure monitor, fuel level, door ajar warning, distance to empty, average fuel consumption and periodic maintenance details. And you can control the air-con and music through the mobile app too.
We tried the BlueSense firsthand during our time with the XUV300 and we found it to be seamless, quick to respond, and giving out detailed and fairly accurate data. Even smaller details such as – AC turned on, car is idling, whether or not the driver is wearing seatbelts, how long has it been on, trip details – are shown on the app, some of which are sent through notification. The app in itself has a simple interface with vibrant colours used and is easy to navigate through. On the downside, there were a few glitches (as we were using the pre-launched version) which could easily be fixed through an update. And continuous notifications on your phone about what the car is up to might not be ideal for some users.
1. Needs an update
The XUV300 hasn’t been in the market for long. But given the rising competition – there are already seven direct rivals for it in the segment with many more on their way – the XUV300 needs to keep up rather than soldier on for longer. It is tough vying in a segment with no sympathy, but that’s where Mahindra wants the XUV to succeed. In order to do so, a mild update would go a long way in pulling customers to the showrooms. It could be anything, a nip here or a tuck there, some feature additions which could be first-in-segment or a new paint scheme in the least. That’s all the XUV300 needs at the moment.
2. AMT is Jerky
Some might wonder why Mahindra has stuck with an AMT in the sub-four meter segment whereas other manufacturers are offering either a torque converter or even a DCT in this segment. But, when we experienced the AutoShift paired with the diesel engine we were impressed by how minimal and controlled the AMT shift-jerks were. But here, with the petrol engine, they are discernible to a great extent and sometimes rob you of the refined nature of this engine. Moreover, the creep function in the AMT works well, but load up the car to the brim, or try ‘creeping’ on an incline (like a traffic-stalled flyover) and it starts to falter. Although these setbacks aren’t deal-breakers, we’d have loved the XUV300 even more without them.
Since its introduction, the Mahindra XUV300 has remained a capable, yet an understated player in the cut-throat sub-four meter SUV segment. It has everything one could wish for – good looks, well-laid out and feature-loaded cabin, practicality and ruggedness – meanwhile, being a Mahindra it rides well and has a robust engine to go with it too. Moreover, the carmaker never left the buyers wanting for more. Now with the automatic paired to the petrol engine and the new connected car tech, it completes the line-up. And you simply cannot overlook the fact that it is one of the few cars sold in India to flaunt the five-star NCAP safety rating. So the XUV300 is perfect for someone looking to buy a good looking, spacious and comfortable compact SUV which is easy to drive has superb ride and handling combination and is also safe to live with.
Pictures by Kapil Angane